Perth Courier

Historical Documents

History of Women's Missionary Society

supplied by Christine M. Spencer of Northwestern University, Evanston, Il., USA.

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Perth Courier, March 5, 1920

The Lanark and Renfrew Women’s Missionary Society

Written by Mrs. John Stewart of Appleton

In view of the enthusiasm kindled by the Women’s Missionary Society held in Almonte on the 8th and 9th of January, when not only were the delegates and workers enthused and inspired by the lure of missions but the general public as well, it was deemed to be advisable to place before the readers of our weekly newspapers throughout Lanark and Renfrew a series of short sketches of missionary work and workers as it has been carried on in these two counties.  These articles will appear monthly and will be made as bright and inspiring as possible.  They will treat of different departments of the society’s work and show how each effort is directed towards the “uplifting of humanity” and the establishment of the Kingdom of God.

The Women’s Foreign Missionary Society was the parent of the Women’s Missionary Society and was founded by Professor McLaren of Knox College in 1876.  Mrs. McLaren was one of the first presidents of the general society.

Both Professor and Mrs. McLaren kept in close contact with and maintained a vital interest in the work and progress of the society as long as they lived.  Professor McLaren made it a point to appear on the platform for the closing session of each meeting of the General Society.  He made a very striking figure as he came to the front of the platform to pray for the blessing of god on the work and the workers.

Lanark and Renfrew Presbyterial was organized at the Manse at Arnprior in 1883(?).  A little group of Christian women had gathered at that place.  Mrs. Harvie, a member of the Board in Toronto, assisted by Rev. J.D. McLean, joined the three auxiliaries then in existence into one Presbyterial.  These auxiliaries were Almonte, Carleton Place and McDonald’s Corners.  They had less than 100 members but they raised about $350 during that first year.  Mrs. (Rev.) J.B. Edmondson of Almonte was the first president.

The second year four more societies were formed—Ashton, Pakenham, White Lake and Arnprior.  The third year six more auxiliaries were added and the society was able to report 379 members in the 13 auxiliaries.  The officers rejoiced greatly that they were able to send the Presbyterial treasurer $726.85.  Mrs. (Rev.) MacKenzie of Almonte was the second president and Mrs. (Rev.) A.A. Scott of Carleton Place was the third.

In 1888(?) Mrs. Irving of Pembroke occupied the presidential chair and held office in 1889, 1890, and 1891.  This was a term of rapid progress.  Mrs. Irving toured the Presbytery with untiring zeal and energy, organizing new societies and stirring up those who were inclined to get into a rut.  At the close of her term of office she was able to visit every society some two or three times.

In 18919?), Dr. O’Hara was designated at Smith’s Falls for work in central India, the first fruit of the Lanark and Renfrew Presbyterial.  In that year the society reported 33 auxiliaries, 22 mission bands with a membership of 1,207.  Only two congregations in the whole field were without a society.  We are not able to report that this is the condition now.

Going over the president’s account of those bygone days makes very interesting reading.  One comes across the names of Rev. Bremmer(?) of White Lake and Burnstown; Rev. Blakeley of Ferguson’s Falls and Ross; Rev. G.C.(?) Boyne of Ashton and Appleton; and Rev. Stewart of Lochwinnock.  These ministers showed great kindness to the visiting ladies driving them from one congregation to another and assisting to sustain the work in every possible way.

In 1892 Mrs. (Rev.) A.H. Scott was elected president.  Between that date and 1899 we have no official record.  Sometime between these dates Mrs. (Rev.) Cooke of Smith’s Falls held office for three years and Miss Jean Leyden was designated at Almonte for work in India.  Mrs. Cooke assisted in the designation service.

In 1899 Mrs. W.C. Irving of Pembroke took up the work with energy and efficiency.  One incident will show this—the president came down to Renfrew on her way to organize in Burnstown.  Through some misunderstanding, she was not met.  Nothing daunted, she got a chance out the eight miles and when she got to the church she found the meeting had not been announced and there was no one there.  Mrs. Irving was not easily baffled.  She tramped from one house to another and got out to some of the adjoining farms, routed out six or seven women, organizing a society and went home rejoicing.  Mrs. Irving held her position from 1899 to 1902.

Mrs. Andrew Wilson then took the reins of office.  To Mrs. Wilson we must pay the highest tribute.  She toured the whole Presbytery again and again, visiting, assisting and organizing whenever possible.  The first year Mrs. Wilson reported 38 auxiliaries, 15 mission bands and contributions amounting to $3,360.40.  In 1905 the report was 40 auxiliaries and 18 mission bands.  It was quite evident the contributions had not kept pace with the growth of the society.  We find in that year $3,641.98 was gathered in.

In 1906 Mrs. Jas. Allan of Perth was elected to the presidential chair.  That year Rev. John Griffith of Honan, China, also a blind missionary, Mrs. Murray and her husband from Palatine assisted at the Presbyterial.  In 1907 Mrs. (Rev.) A.A. Scott of Carleton Place was elected to the presidency and preparations were made to celebrate the silver anniversary.  Mr. Scott was present at the formation of the society and presided on this momentous occasion.  The meeting was held in St. Andrew’s Church, in Carleton Place.  Over 100 delegates were present, 38 auxiliaries reported and 11 mission bands.  The membership was 1,100(?).  Contributions amounted to $3,815 and a special thanksgiving offering of $407 was raised.  It was found that Lanark and Renfrew had contributed in the 25 years of its existence the large sum of $70,000.

The money after all only made the smallest part of the story.  It is the way it is gathered, the road that it comes and the road that it goes which will feel more wonderful.  There are no large contributions in the Women’s Missionary purse.  The money comes in dollar by dollar.  Think of the patience of it and the faith that promises and makes good the promises year by year.  Not only money is given but the work in connection with the administration is given too.  We feel quite safe in saying that efficiency in administration of this society is way above average.  There is always somewhat of a disappointment and loss, but more of encouragement and joy.

The next event of importance was the amalgamation of the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society and the Women’s Home Missionary Society.  This union was consummated in Knox Church, Toronto, May 14, 1914. The first meeting the week after amalgamation was held in Arnprior.  The president of each society presided alternatively.  The union of two large societies such as these left of necessity an element of friction.  Many of the members of each society would have preferred to continue as separate bodies but the pall of calamity was spreading over the Dominion by the war and from it merged a firmly united society with a large outlet and outlook.

Mrs. A.C. Brown of Carleton Place was the first president of the society which was henceforth to be known as the Women’s Missionary Society.  Owing to family sickness Mrs. Brown was only able to preside for one year.  During this year Dr. Laura Moodie was designated from Knox Church, Perth, for work in India.  Mrs. (Rev.) McOdrum(?) of Pembroke was the next elected president.  Much visiting was done during her two years in office and a number of mission bands organized.

Mrs. Brown of Almonte next took the helm and a number of changes were effected.  Conferences of missionary workers were held at various centers—Cobden, Renfrew and Perth.  Miss McGregor toured the Presbyterial and organized six new auxiliaries.

In 1918 quite an impetus was given to the work of the Forward Movement Campaign.  The provinces assigned Lanark and Renfrew to the care of Mrs. (Rev.) Cramm of Westport.  A year previous to that our executives had devised a forward movement scheme of their own.  Dividing the auxiliaries into districts and placing each district under the care of a vice president, this was productive and resulted in good work.  The Forward Movement Committee was added to the one we already had in operation.  That the work of that committed has been greatly blessed is evident.  We were able to report at our annual convention 44 auxiliaries, with 382 members, 576 Home Helpers, 26 live members, 4 junior life members, contributions from all auxiliaries amounting to the large sum of $11,800.(?)

Perhaps the willingness may be more easily understood when we consider the remarks of one of our missionaries that they found a large percentage of church work being done by women of eth church and women’s organizations, the only live organizations of the church.  We have to thank Mrs. (Rev.) A.A. Scott of Carleton Place for much of the information in this article.  Mrs. Scott still maintains her interest in the society in which she gave so many years of her life.  She is hoping for great things from the Forward Movement that the needs of all the world will be placed before all people and the ability of Christianity to fill that need.

Perth Courier, May 14, 1920

Mission Bands

Written by Mrs. W.A. Dobson of Carleton Place, Mission Band Secretary for Lanark and Renfrew

Remember now thy creator in the days of thy youth  Eccl. XII.1

Training up a child in the way he should go; when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs XXII.6

The Mission Band is perhaps the best institution in our church for the training of the young people.  It trains them for all departments of church work and consequently gives them the fundamentals in training for all other departments of life.  It gives training of mind, heart and action.  It trains our boys and girls for positions of leadership.  It trains in parliamentary procedure and in speedy and efficiently carrying through of items in business. It trains our young people to pray in public and to speak and discuss religious subjects.  There seems to be a universal hesitancy and shrinking at first on the part of our people to speak of religious things in public but by beginning with the children in their youngest years even with the little tots, the Mission Band with schooling will help them overcome this defect which is such a hindrance to many of our older people when taking a part in a religious service.  Again, it trains our boys and girls in the right use of money and gives them a true sense of stewardship for we encourage our members to earn and give of their own, thus inculcating in them the right habit of giving and a knowledge of the fact that money is of value only in so far as it reaches out to make the world better.  Furthermore, it gives an opportunity for sacrifice and therefore teaches early the great lessons of life—denial of itself for the welfare and benefit of others.  If we can train our boys and girls to be good mission band workers there will be little difficulty later on in getting them to be leaders in the Sabbath School, in our Women’s Missionary Society or other women’s societies; on the Board of Management or in the Session and there is much more likelihood of their becoming recruits for the ministry or workers in the home or foreign fields than those who have not had the training or the opportunity of catching the vision.  Early in the history of the Women’s Missionary Society, our society saw the need and advantage of this juvenile organization.  No adequate history of the bands of Lanark and Renfrew can be given for no record has been kept of this department.  However, from an early annual report of the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society, we find that the first band in this presbytery was organized in 1884 one year after the Presbyterial was founded.  This band was organized at Carleton Place under the leadership of Mrs. Hamilton and its contributions to missions was $9.00.  From this date, the bands of Lanark and Renfrew continued to grow in numbers and membership and contributions until in 1919 there were 34 bands with a membership of !,256 with contributions of $2,537 to missions.  This is a record surpassed in the provinces only by the large Presbyterial of Toronto.  But we have not all reached our maximum.  We can do much better.  Lanark and Renfrew have great possibilities which have yet to come to full realization.  Let us therefore still press onward toward the mark for the price of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ.

Posted: 09 June, 2005