You may ask what in the world is Margaret Fell Friends Women? Good question! It’s a women’s group made up mostly of women who attend Newberg Friends Church. You may also wonder why you haven’t heard much about this group? I’m glad you asked!
To begin with a little history, the Friends Women organization was started by a couple of sisters who attended Newberg Friends Church back in the early 1940s. Their names were Julia Pearson and Marie Haines. They had a concern for women missionaries who had left their home churches and families to share the Good News of Jesus Christ to the people of Bolivia and Peru. Back in those days, traveling to a foreign country meant taking a boat or a plane and spending either a couple of weeks on the boat or a few days going by plane. The missionaries often lived in places without adequate plumbing and running water, making it necessary to always boil their water and schedule cooking and washing clothes when electricity and running water were available. Snail mail and telegram were the only ways for missionaries to communicate with those in the States—and vice versa. Mail could take up to several weeks and telegrams were expensive, so telegrams were limited to emergency contact, unless it was celebrating the birth of a child!
Concern for the safety, well-being, and loneliness of the women missionaries was of great concern to these sisters. So they organized a group of women to specifically pray for these missionary women, raise funds for special projects, and send cards and letters of encouragement. These groups sprouted up all around the yearly meeting and were officially united as NWYM of Friends Women in 1945.
When these missionary women came back to the States to raise funds (called deputation or home assignment) many would share of their experiences with these Friends Women groups and thank them for their spiritual, financial, and emotional support. It was also a way for the missionaries to put faces to the women who had been praying for them while they were sharing Jesus Christ with the people of Bolivia and Peru, and around the world. Hearing missionary stories and seeing how God worked in the lives of people they served benefitted both missionaries and supporters.
Newberg Friends Church started with a Friends Women group that met once a month during the day. Margaret Fell Friends Women formed in 1963 as an offshoot of this group, meeting once a month in the evening. Carolyn Staples was the first president, bringing her infant son, Don, with her. The purpose of Margaret Fell Friends Women is still the same: to pray for women missionaries, raise funds for special projects, and send cards and letters of encouragement.
Margaret Fell Friends Women meets the 4th Monday from August through May from 7 to 8:30 p.m., usually at Spaulding Oaks Community Center. Most of our meetings begin with refreshments, followed by a short devotional and a few minutes spent taking care of current business. We then take an offering that helps cover membership in Friends Women, followed by a missions-related speaker (often one of the women missionaries we pray for). We end with a time of prayer for our women missionaries around the world, specifically women missionaries from NFC, NWYM, and from EFM (Evangelical Friends Mission).
The projects NWYM of Friends Women groups support vary each year but range from: providing funds to purchase bibles in China and Russia; providing retreat funds for Teaching Abroad teachers; providing hospitality funds for Friends Serving Abroad in Russia; providing funds for Discipling for Development (Rwanda); and even providing funds for projectors and toilets! Each year Margaret Fell Friends Women signs up to support a dollar amount toward these projects. Funds for our support of the projects comes from serving the coffee break and lunch on Saturday during Yearly Meeting Mid-Year Boards, usually the end of January. NFC members who participate in these Mid-Year Boards help provide our support for these projects, so thank you! And our missionaries (Friends Serving Abroad) thank you as well!
If you would like to be part of Friends Women, two groups that meet are:
• Margaret Fell Friends Women meets the 4th Monday from August through May at 7 p.m., usually at Spaulding Oaks Community Center. (See below for a schedule of the next three meetings.)
• Julia Pearson Friends Women meets the 3rd Wednesday from September through April at 1:30 p.m. at Friendsview Retirement Community, Hess Creek Classroom.
If you aren’t able to attend during these times and want to start a new group, please contact me. Or if you want to help support some of these Friends Women projects, also contact me. I’m in the directory!
Margaret Fell Friends Women Monthly Meeting Dates:
• March 27, 2017, 7-9 pm—speaker: Retha McCutchen, interim superintendent for NWYM; location: Spaulding Oaks Community Center, 1100 N Meridian St.
• April 24, 2017, 7-9 pm—speaker, Cindy Johnson; location: Spaulding Oaks Community Center, 1100 N Meridian St.
• May 22, 2017, NEW! 6-8 pm—speaker, Stuart Willcuts. Potluck at NFC social hall. Watch for more details.