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Episcopal Church Women:
Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

The following bite-size blurbs help tell the story of the ECW. They can be used in any order and and are appropriate for distribution via parish newsletters, websites and Sunday bulletins. We’ll continue to add to what’s here, so make sure to check back.

One aspect of the NC Women’s Auxiliary (now ECW) which set it apart from others was its long-standing concern with social issues. The Social Service Commission was established in 1913 to work with prisons and state farms. From that commission the women began to monitor legislation on many issues of concern to women and children, including adequate care for mentally ill children and minimum wage laws. The 2009 Annual Meeting of the ECW of the Diocese of NC will take place at Church of the Good Shepherd in Raleigh November 6-7, and will be devoted to the subject of hunger in our communities.

From the start, Episcopal Church Women in North Carolina have been financially self-sufficient. As early as 1888, the Women’s Auxiliary pledge list included categories for foreign, domestic and diocesan causes. The women have raised money to build and then maintain churches, schools, orphanages, even a camp and conference center. During the years when the Diocese was financially dependent, part of its yearly apportionment to the National Church was made by the church women. In 2008, having answered a call by the Church to commit to the Millennium Development Goals, an international initiative to eradicate global poverty, the ECW of NC made its first substantial MDG grant: $10,000 to a day care and preschool program run by the Anglican Mother’s Union for AIDS orphans and other vulnerable children in Botswana, Africa. Another MDG grant will be considered at this year’s Annual Meeting of the ECW of the Diocese of NC.

A Triennial Meeting of church women has been held concurrently with the triennial General Convention of the Episcopal Church since 1878. This meeting dwells on the outreach, ecumenical and spiritual aspects of the Church rather than the issues before the House of Bishops and House of Deputies. Early on Triennial was defined as, “A gathering of friends, a community of worship, a school of learning, an arena for debate, a pressure group, a legislative body.” So it has been ever since. The Diocese of North Carolina began sending delegates to the national meeting as soon as it was organized. Things learned and seen at the Triennial Meeting held this summer will be shared with those attending the Annual Meeting of the ECW of the Diocese of NC, which will take place at Church of the Good Shepherd in downtown Raleigh November 6-7.

Like ECW, the United Thank Offering (UTO) was founded by women to benefit the entire Church. The idea is that offerings - just a coin or two - are made by individuals during a daily prayer of thanks for God’s gifts. This money is then collected by church women in churches throughout the Anglican Communion twice a year during “ingatherings” and forwarded to the central UTO office where it goes to grants to address compelling human need. The UTO is first mentioned in North Carolina in 1882. By 1890, the UTO Ingathering had become part of the corporate communion at the Annual Meeting of the ECW. And so it will be in 2009. The Diocese of North Carolina, traditionally one of the largest UTO donors in the nation, has received some significant UTO grants.

Scott Evans of Durham served as president of the Diocesan ECW from 1976-1979, a time of great change in the Church. During her term she encouraged women to actively support the new female priests in the Diocese of NC, and she appointed a committee to address the issue of working women. In 1982, ECW president Mary Harris of Chapel Hill reported that while women made up over 50 percent of Church membership, they comprised only 15 percent of the members in policy-making positions. She urged greater acceptance of women as equal partners in the mission and ministry of the Church. The Harris-Evans Conference, an endowed triennial event, was named to honor the commitment of these women to addressing issues of outreach and discrimination of all types. Among the topics of past conferences: the use of advanced directive in end of life situations and women in the prison system. On November 6-7, at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Harris-Evans will run in conjunction with the Annual Meeting of the ECW of NC. Actively combating hunger in our communities will be the focus, and Scott Evans Hughes will be honored.