I have been going back and reading the histories of various churches in Minnesota and North Dakota. It is interesting reading for a variety of reasons. One is the absolute hardship these early Lutherans experienced. I am reading about a Pastor that had a school besides his preaching duties. In January of 1887 a three day blizzard hit and he and the children managed to stay alive but he had to care for them all in a two room shack that served as the school. It is said that 128 people died in that storm. Whole schools and their teacher didn’t make it but this pastor did. Another interesting part of this is the subtle way that women enter the picture. One Pastor was picked up and taken to his new parish in an oxcart. The driver told him that he could say hello and goodbye in the same sentence because they had no way to provide him anything let alone a salary. A recent hailstorm had destroyed everything. Anyway upon arrival one of the women simply said “we’ll make this work”. She fed him for quite awhile in a one room shack. He sat on an empty nail keg and she fed him with empty cartons as the table. Intuition tells me that if the women would have balked he would have gone back the way he came on the oxcart. Since many of the preachers covered a wide area, local women of the church took it upon themselves to garner the supplies that would feed the horses of the traveling preachers. It may have been the beginning of women’s auxiliaries in our churches.
This is LWML’s 70 Anniversary. Here is a portion of the history written by Marlys Taege Moberg – you can find it at LWML.org –
Beginning in the 1850s, women of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS, http://www.lcms.org) started local auxiliaries to meet the needs of people; mending clothes for seminarians, equipping hospitals, establishing schools, developing convalescent and retirement homes, assisting orphanages and residences for people with disabilities, gathering clothing, furniture and food for indigents, and funding mission endeavors at home and abroad.
Not until the 1920s, however, did members of congregational societies begin to coordinate their efforts by uniting in state and regional leagues. Oklahoma was first in 1928, but it took more than a decade before official approval was granted for a national LCMS women’s organization.
Although the U.S. was at war and travel was difficult, the founding convention, held July 7 and 8, 1942, in Chicago, was attended by over 100 women from 15 districts. The 28 delegates adopted a constitution, approved a name, chose two projects, and established a Literature Committee to publish books, a national magazine, tracts and programs. They also determined that 1/4 of the mission gifts collected in local societies would be given to the national organization and 3/4 used for district projects.
The purpose of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML), delegates agreed, was to develop a greater mission consciousness among women (“missionary education, missionary inspiration and missionary service”) and to gather funds for mission projects for which no adequate provision was made in the LCMS budget. “Missionary” meant the individual member, who was to “win and hold souls for Christ the Master, visit the sick and the shut-ins, relieve the needy, and cultivate the spirit of sisterly good cheer and fellowship.”