The following is an excerpt from Citizens with the Saints, authored by Lyman Harding, © 1994 Diocesan Synod of Fredericton.
0n a January day in 1885 Mrs. Roberta Tilton attended a meeting of the Women's Auxiliary to the Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in New York City. Mrs. Tilton of Ottawa, formerly of Boston and Saint John, N.B., was so impressed by the work of this organization that she returned to Ottawa determined to request permission for such an organization in the Canadian Church.
On April 16, 1885, a delegation of seven prominent church women was received by the Board of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Church of England in Canada. This society had been created by Provincial Synod (east from Algoma to the Atlantic in 1883). The bishops present were assured by the delegation that the women of the Church of England in Canada were prepared and ready to promote the "missionary effort and the advancement of our Master's kingdom." They were informed the following day that the "Board received their proposal with unfeigned gratitude to God". Four days later, on April 21, 1885, in St. John's Church schoolroom in Ottawa, the first Canadian branch of Women's Auxiliary was organized.
Subsequently, the Diocese of Ontario, including Ottawa, organized a diocesan branch after which several other dioceses did likewise. Although it would be eight years before a diocesan board was formed in the Diocese of Fredericton it is significant to note that Mrs. Margaret Medley of Fredericton, wife of the Metropolitan, became the first Dominion President in 1886.
The formation of a diocesan board in the Diocese of Fredericton took place on Nov. 4, 1903, at Trinity Church Parish Hall in Saint John. In attendance was a group of women representing twenty parishes; Mrs. Willoughby Cummings, a member of the Dominion Board, Toronto; and the Rev. J.A. Richardson, rector of Trinity Church.
On that day a firm foundation for organized women's work was laid in the diocese by a group of devoted church women with a glowing missionary spirit, the vision to see beyond themselves and a steadfast faith that God would bless them as they "launched out into the deep."
Interestingly, prior to the formation of the Fredericton Diocesan Board the first branch was organized by Trinity Seniors, Saint John, on November 24, 1902, followed in 1903 by Rothesay and St. John's (Stone) Church.
In the early years of the Women's Auxiliary the Dorcas Department kept most members very busy. Bales of school supplies, clothing, quilts and knitted articles were constantly being prepared and sent to Indian Residential Schools. In 1935 the W.A. of the Diocese of Fredericton undertook to clothe all children in the school at Chapleau. When that school closed, Sioux Lookout School became the responsibility of this Diocese. In the 1930's when western Canada experienced severe drought, a relief effort was organized by the Dorcas Department and thousands of dollars worth of bales sent off to help our members and their families. The Red Cross also received tremendous assistance from the W.A. During World War II a total of 20 682 items of clothing, blankets and quilts were shipped overseas.
By the 1960's times were changing and bales were no longer required. Schools and hospitals in the North were now totally administered by the Government.
The Pickett-Scovil Memorial Fund begun by Miss Lucy Pickett in 1910-11 and undertaken in 1914 by Miss Elizabeth Robinson Scovil, is still an active fund to this day. Originally set-up to provide nursing services to clergy and their families, it became, in later years, a fund to provide assistance with health expenses not covered by medicare or clergy insurance. The interest from the fund is most frequently used at present for dental expenses.
Prior to 1909 every Branch member undertook to set aside one cent each day - and so began the Extra-Cent-A-Day Fund which is still an active, much-used fund. It is used to assist borderline or supported parishes, usually with repair and maintenance expenses for the church and rectory. The first. money given from this fund provided Lower Jemseg with a portable communion set. In 1993 a total of $7700.00 went to six parishes in our diocese.
Starting in 1958 W.A. took on a project initiated by Dominion W.A. In an attempt to help poor Pakistani women W.A. received and sold their beautiful embroideries. Faithful convenors, over the years, travelled many miles attending annual and deanery meetings, showing and selling these delicate items. It was a labour of love. The project was discontinued in 1992.
Junior Auxiliary and Girls' Auxiliary, which was for decades an important area of work for Women's Auxiliary have, sadly, disappeared in our diocese. However, Anglican Church Women are ever mindful of the needs of our youth and regularly contribute to Camp Medley, Camp Brookwood, Inner City Youth Ministry and the Cornerstone Project. And, overseas, Diocesan A.C.W. sponsors two children through Foster Parents Plan of Canada. Several branches also participate in this program.
Many changes were taking place in the 1960's. Women were taking an active part in other areas of church work -becoming delegates to Synod, Parish Vestry members and lay readers. This provided opportunity for wider vision - an opportunity for any woman attending an Anglican Church to use her special gifts to the Glory of God. After 82 years Anglican Church women were "launching out" again - cutting the ties that made them an auxiliary and standing on their own. In 1967 the name Anglican Church Women (A.C.W.) replaced the name W.A.
In 1976 the United Pledge, Thankoffering and Self Denial Fund combined to be known as Our Fair Share. For several years this fund was a part of the diocesan synod budget. Presently administered by Diocesan A.C.W., it contributed $11,000.00 in 1993 to various projects and mission work at home and abroad including Primate's World Relief and Development (designated for Burundi), Companion Diocese Tutor Program, Wycliffe Bible Translators, South American Mission Society and the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer.
In 1988 Anglican Church Women of this Diocese became the trustees and took over operation of J.J. Fraser Farraline Home, an old mansion on Queen St. in Fredericton, used as a home for the elderly. Extensive renovations have been made to the kitchen and bathrooms and several other rooms updated. Most parish and deanery branches contribute yearly to Farraline, as does the Diocesan A.C.W. Much credit goes to the dedicated Board of Directors, Anglican Church Women (and Anglican Church Men) of the Fredericton Deanery for their unfailing efforts to make Farraline a pleasant place for the 17 elderly residents who call it "home."
The Diocesan Executive meet five times annually and a two day annual meeting for all Anglican Church Women of the diocese is held every spring. Each of the eight deanery branches hold a one day meeting in the fall. At present there are 113 parish branches usually meeting bi-weekly September to May.
By prayer, work and stewardship Anglican Church Women of this diocese continue to carry out their purpose—Christian service in the parish, community, diocese, nation, and the world. This is accomplished with the dedication of countless numbers of women; the help and encouragement of the bishops and clergy of this diocese; and the blessings of God Almighty.
"Have we not cause to thank God for such work and results as these?" - Roberta Tilton.
Submitted by Audrey Dawe.
What's Past is Prologue: 1885-1973.
Our First Fifty Years: 1903-1953.
25 Years of Progress: W.A. and A.C.W. 1953-1978