A centennial tribute to our Anglican Church Women

Violet Sillitoe

Women today in our church are searching for `mentors' who have `been there and done that' and through it all quietly held onto their faith, living and working and giving back what Christ gives us each day. The mission of the ACW is prayer, work and stewardship. For me those three things are in my own personal faith and to have an organization that embodies those tenets gives more meaning to my own faith. It always baffles me when I attend the Annual General Meeting of the ACW why there aren't more young women there. On this 100th anniversary of the ACW I've decided it's just too bad for those women not in attendance. It's their loss because this organization is indeed one of the best kept secrets in the Anglican Church and more particularly in the Diocese of New Westminister.

Now I may be a little biased. I am a graduate of the Junior Auxiliary (like Brownies) and the Girls Auxiliary (like Girl Guides) of the 1960's and 70's. It was the ACW (then the Women's Auxiliary) which sponsored both groups. Many of our parish ACW members were some of my most important mentors and remain so to this day.

Mentorship and mission is what it's all about as I've learned in reading more about the ACW history and listening to Roger Cooper, the priest at St. Georges, Maple Ridge. He has included some interesting notes on the founders and significant members of the ACW in his absorbing little study book, Women of Faith.

Back in 1904, the founder of the ACW, Roberta Tilton, wanted to develop a national organization for Anglican women to support missionary work of the church in Canada and abroad. And then there was a feisty bishop's wife (I'm so glad to hear that!), Violet Sillitoe, who stepped out of expectations and with great finesse got many women and community organizations together to support the Coast missions, Arctic missions, and those on the African continent.

Roberta Tilton

These are just a couple of women that set the standard for the work of the ACW, and the best part of the story is women like Roberta and Violet are around today working as hard as ever in the ACW across Canada and in our diocese.

I suppose for me it's not just all the incredible work these women have done and continue to do (and that is no small feat), it's the `spirit' with which that work was done that made such an impact on me as a young girl. I can still remember the laughter and good times in the kitchen, the Sunday school rooms and parish hall as we knitted, served, cooked and recooked for others in the parish. There would also be days that I would drop in for tea at the ACW house after school and taste some fresh baking!

I haven't really discussed what the ACW actually does but I think that is better said in a poem written by a brilliant wordsmith and long-time member of ACW, Betty Pearson (at right).

As for those women who have not been part of the ACW experience, you might like to try setting up a guild in your home parish. There is lots of room for more laughter and wisdom around the sewing table I'm sure.

If you would like to read more about the history of this organization, or access the Women of Faith Study Guide, or visit the historic WA House at 314 West 14th Ave. and see the ACW in action please contact one of the ACW Executive below.

President: Ethel Campbell

Vice President: Judy Bueschkens

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Gwen Ingham, Honourary President of the Anglican Church Women

Treasurer

: Alice Clarke

Recording Secretary: Elizabeth Coan

Corresponding Secretary: Catherine Bicknell

Chaplain: Wendy Eyre-Gray