80 Years Strong

By October 23, 2020

The year was 1940.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was president, World War II was rocking the globe, “Gone with the Wind” was lighting up the cinemas and molded Jell-O salad was all the rage.

And the Woman’s Society of Christian Service was launched.

Now known as the United Methodist Women and one of the most powerful groups in the Methodist tradition, our own chapter of UMW was chartered here at First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth on September 12, 1940.

The United Methodist Women of FUMCFW will celebrate their 80th anniversary October 23 through 25 with a special virtual program and fundraiser, available to the public through the church’s website at fumcfw.org/live and the website UMW.fumcfw.org. This hour-long, kick-off event is set for 7:00 pm on October 23 and will be followed by a two-day online auction.

Mrs. Ned Lydick was installed as the president at that first meeting with the senior minister, the Rev. J.N.R. Score leading a ritual that included prayers, the Charles Wesley hymn “A Charge to Keep I Have” and a signing of the charter. By signing, the 514 women promised their “purpose to join in help to develop and support Christian work among women and children around the world; and to take part in such service activities as will strengthen the local church, improve civic, community and world conditions; to enlist others in this Christian fellowship; and secure funds for the activities in our local church and the support of the work undertaken at home and abroad for the establishment of a World Christian Community.”

Fascinating UMW history housed in the church’s archives on the second floor contain not only those beautiful signatures written in lovely penmanship but programs, historical photos, and newspaper clippings. There you can learn that the UMW’s special memberships for babies born and women honored made the May 27, 1958 Star-Telegram. Not only did Mrs. R.H.W. Drechsel preside, but Mrs. Granville E. Carpenter directed the program and Mrs. Ira Slawson presented the memberships.

The Fort Worth Tribune documented on September 9, 1966 that Mrs. Sam Acola, known to most of us as Kay, was the third in her family to serve as president of the UMW. She followed her great grandmother, Mrs. C.S. Bales and her grandmother, Mrs. J.B. Baker, Sr., as presidents before her.

History buffs can learn that the organization’s official studies have ranged from Latin America to Jesus’s parables. The group began participating in the United Community Center’s Christmas in July fundraiser in 1964.

General meeting speakers have included bishops, university professors, ministers, government officials, and even Tipper Gore. Longtime nursery worker, the beloved Gracie Navejar, was honored by the Circle C-2. The monthly service day’s effervescent cheerleader Vera Barrett presided over as many as 100 women who hand-crafted supplies for city charities. The church’s babies and favorite members were honored with special memberships, highlighting a favorite spring meeting each year.

Fundraisers once existed where tickets cost $1, which covered lunch. Book reviews, style shows, and table-top décor have entertained and raised funds for mission and church projects The 1999 event, a bridal style show through the decades, featured a delicately preserved gown from the last century, another created from parachute silk, and the Rev. Linda McDermott’s halter-style ensemble.

The 2020 version of the fundraiser will be unique, too. Replacing a previously scheduled gala, the 80th anniversary event has been transformed into a virtual event by Event Chairwoman Liselotte Bowman and UMW President Sarah Harris, who will host this online celebration. The online program will be followed by a three-day online auction for such items as a night of entertainment from Trey and the Tritones, jewelry, and in-store shopping.

Bidding will end at 5:00 pm on October 25. Proceeds from the auction will benefit UMW programs for women and children.

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