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The United Thank Offering at Work in North Carolina

Lynn Hoke, ECW Historian & Archivist

We are winding up a year of celebration for the Bicentennial of the Episcopal Church in North Carolina. With history in mind, this year’s Annual Meeting provides an ideal time for a retrospective on the United Thank Offering. The UTO began with the first In-gathering at the 1889 Triennial Meeting of the Woman’s Auxiliary. A call went out to all churchwomen everywhere to collect their prayers and grateful offerings in thanksgiving for life’s many blessings. In time, the iconic UTO Blue Boxes became standard issue for our countertops, both at home and at church. Local collections were counted, recorded and sent off to swell the national Ingatherings.

This much most of you know by heart. Less well known is the return of blessings to North Carolina by way of UTO-funded workers and a variety of grants, large and small. We’ll take a closer look at these various UTO-funded personnel, programs and projects over the years. Among the documented female UTO workers in North Carolina between 1900 and 1940 were approximately 60 doctors, nurses, teachers, social workers, evangelists and missionaries. For some of these we have bits of information, but for many we have only their name and location of service.

Between 1910 and 1928, the first four grants came back to North Carolina for education: two to St. Augustine’s School in Raleigh, one to Valle Crucis School in Valle Crucis, and one to the Appalachian School in Penland. Since 1910 the cumulative number of UTO grants to the three dioceses is 107, amounting to a total of more than $1,967,000. During both the 1980s and the 1990s, each decade could boast of 26 grants for North Carolina. Since 2000 there has been a total of 30 grants, so it’s likely that many of you have had direct experience in grant requests and/or local support of the recipient groups.

The UTO provided annual program funding for the Bishop Tuttle Training School in Raleigh from 1926 until it was closed in 1941. Initially built in 1925 as a national project of the Woman’s Auxiliary, the Tuttle School was a unique institution that provided training for young black women in church work and social work. The school’s leaders kept their annual UTO request at $6,000 per year, in hopes of routine ongoing “under the radar” budget approval. The additional funds necessary for a growing enrollment and expanding program came from various Woman’s Auxiliary groups around the country and individual donors, including personal subsidies from the school’s own resident Dean.

In advance of the Annual Meeting an archival and Internet search will be made for available biographical information, photographs and service reports for various UTO workers in North Carolina. Exhibit boards, lists, and other handouts will chronicle both the early UTO-funded workers and the later grants that brought UTO funds back to North Carolina. When information is available, status reports for previous and on-going grant projects will be provided. Any of you with first-hand knowledge or photographs of a local UTO-funded worker or program is welcome to share that information with me at: lynn.hoke^episdionc#org

(Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division, The New York Public Library. (1926). The Bishop Tuttle School; Raleigh, N. C.; A national center for the training of young Negro women in Christian leadership and social work. Retrieved from