History of the United Methodist Women

The Hopewell Women's Society was originally called The Ladies Aid Society. Records of the Ladies Aid go back to 1900 when Mrs. James P. Sawyer served as president. The name of the Society was changed to Woman's Society of Christian Service (WSCS) in October 1940 as a result of three denominations uniting into the Methodist Church. Mrs. Viola Watkins served as president of the Ladies in 1940. In 1968 the organization's name was changed to the United Methodist Women due to the merging of the EUB Church and the Methodist Church.

On May 1, 1952, the WSCS hosted a Fellowship Tea. Hopewell's women invited ladies from surrounding churches to participate in the program.

The Women's Society circles met in the afternoons until April 1953 when some of the women organized a circle that met in the evening. In July 1955 all of the Society's circles began to have their meetings in the evenings. Meetings were held in the ladies' homes. During the late 1960s it became the custom to hold the meetings in the church. The December Christmas meeting is normally held in one of the members' homes and the hostesses serve a dinner. A gift exchange was an annual tradition for many years.

The Women's Society has always raised money to meet the needs of the church. Some of the early money making projects included: bake sales, jitney suppers, chicken and steak suppers, socials, dinners for farm sales and auctions, and Stanley and Tupperware Parties. The women sold cards and gift wrapping paper. The ladies initially sold homemade noodles, fresh fruit, craft items and dried flower arrangements. For many years the Society held a sale at the Groveport Town Hall that consisted of a rummage sale, bake sale, and bazaar. The ladies donated their good used clothing for the rummage sale. They made baked goods and crafts to sell. The Women published cookbooks, the first one in the 1950s. They published new cookbooks in 1961, 1984, and 2000.

A Pancake and Sausage Supper was organized by the Crusaders' Class in 1950. The Women's Society later took over the supper, making it their main fund raiser.

The Women have held an annual Mother-Daughter Banquet for many years. The 1952 banquet was reported in the Columbus Dispatch. The well known newspaper columnist and radio TV personality, Fern Sharp, was to speak, but she got lost on Richardson Road and arrived too late to speak. Members entertained the ladies with their musical talents. In the early years the women prepared the meal with the men serving and cleaning up. In 1986 under the pastorate of Rev. Charles Muller, the men decided to plan the menu, cook the meal, serve and clean up as a Mother's Day gift to the women. The UMWS president presents a mission award to a woman of the organization each year at the banquet.

In March of 1971, Margaret Hill, wife of Rev. Harry Hill, organized a women's prayer group. The group gave gifts to the Methodist Otterbein Home. They gave pies, applesauce and bibs to the Valley View Home in Lancaster. The prayer group sent money to Lebanon and bought gifts for Hopewell's graduates. Pat Howard organized a prayer chain that uses e-mail and telephone to keep church members informed of prayer requests. Kim Clements volunteered to take over the prayer chain for Pat in 2013.

For many years the women have baked and delivered cookies and fresh fruit (for diabetics) to shut-ins, nursing home residents and elderly members of the congregation. This tradition continues to be much appreciated by those who receive the goodies.

The Women's Society has used its money to help modernize the church building and kitchen and to furnish classrooms. In 1940 the women bought new carpeting for the church for $84.25. They bought a sweeper, dishes, the sink in the kitchen, drawers for dishes, candle lighter, baptismal bowl, coffee urn, chairs silverware, basement tables and coal for the church. The women helped decorate the parsonage, helped pay the minister's salary and pension, helped pay the janitor, and helped support missionaries. They sent youth of the church to Delaware summer school, Lakeside and Lancaster Camps. The ladies sent diaries, socks, boxes of cookies and candy, letters, and Upper Room devotionals to the Hopewell men in the Military Service. In 1956 the women helped purchase an electric Hammond Organ that Kate McCollister played for many years.

In the early years the women sent Christmas baskets to the needy families in the community. In recent years the Women have participated in the Groveport Adopt a Family and have provided gifts to Ashville families in need. The Women's Society is also active in the Women's Prison Ministries and has given Ramen noodles and hot chocolate to the Marysville Prison Women.

The women organized a knitting group, The Knit Wits, in 2007. Members of the group were: Jane Lynch, Gail White, Jan Jordan and Pastor Tina Fox. The women made sweaters for Guidepost Ministries, blankets for babies in the intensive care unit at Children's Hospital, and prayer shawls to bring comfort to the sick and elderly. The knitting group is now inactive.

Many women have followed Viola Watkins and Mrs. Sawyer as president of the Women's Society. Bertha Fridley currently serves as the president. Other women who have served include: Mrs. Fred Pontius, Ruth McCollister, Mrs. Thomas Painter, Mrs. Ralph Rainier, Texie Steele, Burdell Coon, Margaret White, Joann White, Pat Howard, Taye Moody, Brenda Muller, Jane Lynch and Taunya Lambert.

Submitted by Ruth Eberts, church Historian