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School of Theology Library Digital Exhibitions

In Mission to Boston and the World: 150 Years of the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society

View all digitized items for this curated exhibition in the Digital Theology Lab!

This online exhibition is paired with an in-library exhibition during the Spring 2019 semester, with special lecture by Dr. Dana Robert titled "The First Women of Theology: Installation of Historic Windows for the 150th Anniversary of United Methodist Women" on 21 March 2019. This exhibition intends to highlight the honored in the windows installed in the School of Theology Library, originally installed in the Tremont Street Methodist Episcopal Church. We celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society (predecessor of the United Methodist Women), an organization which supported the work of women in foreign lands founded during a stormy night on 23 March 1869. This digital exhibition would not be possible without the help of Dr. Dana Robert's unpublished text, cited below. Anytime a quote from Dr. Robert is mentioned, please refer to the below citation:

Robert, Dana L. The First Women of Theology: Wives, Missionaries, Deaconesses, and the Beginnings of Boston University. Unpublished paper. Boston, Boston University, 2019.

Further information was gathered from the School of Theology's History of Missiology site, which includes articles from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed. Gerald H. Anderson, (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1998).

The Work of WFMS

The predecessor organization to today's United Methodist Women, the WFMS sent missionaries across the globe, including women medical doctors and founders of women's colleges in India, China, and elsewhere. According to Dr. Dana Robert, the group "bought its own property, published its own periodicals, and sponsored indigenous Bible women around the world. It mobilized church women across the United States into what became a worldwide movement." Here is one example of the support of the society making a major difference: On the left is a photo of Mrs. Lucy Perrin's will (d.1939), leaving money for the New England Deaconness Hospital and the New England Branch of the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society. She particularly noted her preference that funds be used for Marie Nelson's work in Africa. On the right is a thank you letter from Marie Nelson, noting that Mrs. Perrin's gift was used in construction of a new hosital.

Woman's Foreign Missionary Society Window Dedication Ceremony Program

The program for the dedication of the windows, 23 March 1942 at the Tremont St. Methodist Episcopal Church.

About the windows, from the program of the original installation on 23 March 1942: "...it came as an inspiration to Miss Clementina Butler, that the windows in the Sanctuary should be a Permanent Memorial to the eleven former Branches of the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society...it was the purpose to make the windows always tell the story of the most precious articles of our historic faith..." Click on the photograph to see a picture of the inside of the program.