Disciples Women celebrated our 145th birthday in 2019. This celebration marked October 21, 1874 , as the day that Caroline Neville Pearre organized the women to address the mission and ministry that was then lacking in the church. Convicted during her prayer time in April of that year, she recognized her call to initiate the Christian Women’s Board of Missions (CWBM) that would be organized and managed exclusively by women. One supporter described the CWBM as knowing no distinction between home and foreign missions —its field was the world.
Since then Disciples Women have been organizing and advocating to serve the needs of God’s people across time, culture and geography.
The CWBM provided training programs that equipped thousands of young people and established four Bible Chairs at state universities.
In 1886, a group of women in St. Louis, recognizing a need to assist poor and orphaned children, and led by Mattie Younkin, began what is now the National Benevolent Association, the social services ministry of the church.
In 1895, Nancy E Atkinson, a founding member of the CWBM, and her husband received news of the death of a pastor who left behind a nearly blind widow and several children with no means of support. Establishing a fund to provide support for this family was the beginning of the Pension Fund.
Sarah Lue Bostick was a field worker for the Christian Women’s Board of Missions and the National Christian Missionary Society and became one of the first African American women to be ordained to Christian Ministry in the late 19th century.
During the 1890s, Hispanic women in Texas began to organize within congregations and later began networking across congregations and regions. In the 1970s, with preparation of materials in Spanish and a growing desire to connect throughout the diversity of the church, the relationship has grown. Hispanic women have always had representation on the IDWM Cabinet.
The CWBM joined with interdenominational churches to provide the first college for women in Central China. Ginling College in Nanjing became one of the most influential schools for higher learning among women in China. A Disciples woman, Minnie Vautrin, became a legendary heroine for her efforts to save the women at the school during the Japanese invasion.
Joining provinces of Canada and the organized states of the United States in cooperative work, the women formed the International Christian Women’s Fellowship in 1953.
Late in the 20th century, Asian women began to network and organize. Even prior to this organizing work, Asian women, like Maureen Osuga, served on the IDWM cabinet.
The work of many has been celebrated across the last 145 years and Disciples Women in the United States and Canada continue to find their voices and live out their call today.
In recognition of this history of service and worship, we celebrated our 145th birthday. To observe this milestone and to participate in the ministry ahead, we invited Disciples Women everyone to give a gift to help celebrate our birthday with us throughout the year.
We will continuing accepting gifts for the 145 in the future. Please make all checks payable to Disciples Women with a notation in the memo line of “145th birthday” and mail to: Disciples Women, P.O. Box 1986, Indianapolis, IN 46206. If you prefer, you can give online at https://www.discipleshomemissions.org/product/donation-disciples-women/ and choose the “145th Birthday” option on the drop down menu.
Click here to see a list of donors for the 145th Birthday of Disciples Women.