Thursday, January 24, 2013
The Preacher’s Corner
Ladies’ Aid ‘accomplishing much good’
The cold weather scare we had Monday and Tuesday of the week just past really threw everyone into a dither. It did not amount to much, although I would not say that if I was one of those people who spun out on an iced-over bridge and wrecked.
When I lived up North, the heavens could snow down their entire supply, and there would not be a whisker of disruption. The plows would be out before dawn, and schools would open on time.
But ice and snow come to us so rarely that it is like a surreptitious holiday given to us at the Almighty’s pleasure. Children accept it like a gift and we adults take it as a moment to slow down and catch our breath.
Last Monday our church ladies were to have their monthly meeting at the home of one of the group’s most faithful members, Jean Ann Jones. Jean Ann called me to say that the weather looked iffy and wondered if the meeting should be called off. I agreed, reluctantly, for when I meet with my church ladies, I know there will always be a tempting dessert.
I asked Jean Ann what I would be missing if we cancelled the meeting. She said it would be a strawberry cake. I must have sounded pretty downcast about foregoing my treat, for Sunday Jean Ann presented me the cake, all wrapped up and ready to go! I am rationing it out, for it is rich and delicious.
The Presbyterian ladies of Holly Springs are a small but dedicated group. Their capacities should not be underestimated, however. A missionary and Ladies’ Aid Society was reported to be at work in the Holly Springs Presbyterian Church as early as 1892, “accomplishing much good.” The ladies were working somewhat independently from the male officers of the congregation, and in September 1895 they ran into trouble. They forwarded a request to the elders to receive a special offering after the regular collection, and did receive permission — with one of the most prominent elders dissenting. The ladies raised money for all sorts of projects foreign and domestic. They paved the sidewalk in front of the church, purchased pianos for the Sunday school rooms, refurnished the pastor’s study, and carpeted the church.
They were deferential to the men. The elders, entrusted with the keys to the kingdom, also kept a tight hold upon the ecclesiastical purse. In 1911, the Martha Davis Foreign Mission Society obtained for the church a hand-operated vacuum cleaner from the Vortex Company of Boston, Mass., which, after trial, proved unsatisfactory. When attempt was made to return it for refund, the ladies discovered that the company had gone out of business! Some years later, by unanimous vote on June 6, 1925, the elders directed that Miss Helen Fant “be granted permission to furnish a vacuum cleaner for the church and that the Electric current be used in the cleaning of the church.” Each lady had brought her nickels to the women’s meetings until enough was collected to purchase the sweeper, a Bissell.
The Ladies’ Aid Society of the Holly Springs Presbyterian Church was kept together by Ella Ferguson (Mrs. Samuel) Mason and a few women devoted to the Lord’s work. They raised money for the Lord’s cause by a cake sale, fiddle contest, spelling bee, and a coin tea. With their dollars they repaired the manse, bought groceries for the elderly, and supplied coal for the town’s poor. They also sent money to aid other Presbyterians — to Iuka to repair the church after a tornado, and to Galveston, Texas, to repair the church after a hurricane. The work was not glamorous and the attendance at meetings was small. The women worried about who would shoulder the burden after they were gone. On November 3, 1906, Miss Helen B. Fant, the recording secretary, remarked that “We were quite gratified to have with us a rare thing in [our] Pres. Church: two [new] ladies who have come to make their home among us, Mrs. [Ben W.] Hamilton and Mrs. [Edgar] West.”
The Lord will provide. He always does.
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