Finally…A Female Church Officer
On March 14, 1910, Florence J. Walker was elected Clerk and Treasurer. On March 16, 1913, Miss Walker was elected to the Board of Managers. (Miss Walker was the daughter of Professor Isaac Walker, mother of James and Mary Batchelder and grandmother of Florence Woods).
Our First Woman Paster
Upon the resignation of Rev. Glengyle Deale for reasons of poor health, the church voted to elect his wife, Mrs. Jessie Deale, as associate pastor. Mr. Deale was to remain pastor but sharing his duties with Mrs. Deale. On June 29th, 1952, Mrs. Deal was ordained in the church. Among the participants in the service were Harvard Divinity School; Rev. Frederick W. Alden, Minister of the NH Congregational Christian Conference.
The Deales continued to serve the church together for 8 years, after which they went to Italy to continue their service to God at a Protestant settlement house.
In the early 1800’s, during Rev. Burnham’s ministry, the women of the church secretly held regular prayer meetings…secretly, because “There was much prejudice against such gatherings.”
In 1871, the ladies of the church openly met at the Town Hall and organized a group called the Ladies Sewing Circle. They held a business meeting, sewed articles, and closed with a prayer, scripture, or hymn, or all three.
During the mid 1800’s, the Ladies Sewing Circle met regularly at 6PM at the Town Hall for a light supper consisting of such morsels as hominy and milk, bisquits and honey, pancakes and maple syrup, homemade pies. The committee consisted of 2 women, and a fee of $.05 was charged. Honorary members of the Sewing Circle (the husbands) and students of the Academy who were rooming in the town were allowed to attend. After supper, everyone enjoyed such games as blind man’s bluff and drop the handkerchief, or candy pulling or promenading.
In 1878 the group became known as the Ladies Circle, and the ladies held food sales, Christmas sales and suppers to “realize cash for different projects.” Another name change in 1880…this time to Ladies Social Circle. Dues were $.25 and suppers were $.10 (or $.15 for those not contributing).
When the Emily Eayers Chapel was built in 1895, the ladies helped furnish it by buying stoves and kitchen and dining room supplies. They also helped furnish the parsonage when it was built in 1890.
The ladies held annual picnics, usually at Pine Island Park or the Contoocook River Park.
In 1919, a constitution was written. There were 34 charter members of this now-official group. The purpose of group was stated as: “To promote a better acquaintance of the members and raise funds which shall be appropriate to the interests of the Society, as the members of the Circle shall from time to time determine.” This constitution was retired in 1961 and replaced by the present one.
The current name of the group, The Women’s Fellowship, was adopted in 1954. The group continued to serve the needs of the church through the raising of money by various activities…church suppers, lawn parties, Christmas fairs, food sales, etc. Many furnishings for new additions and renovations were realized from these funds, and supper proceeds were often used to swell the coffers for building programs.
The Woman’s Fellowship of today continues to provide support for special church projects. Most importantly, it strives to provide all women of the church with the opportunity to meet together in fellowship and to serve the church through a united effort.