History of Women’s Ministry in the Church of God
Christian Women Connection (formerly Women of the Church of God) began with a picture of a wheat field. One day in 1930, Nora
Siens Hunter sat looking at a magazine cover which pictured a combine cutting a wide swath through a wheat field. Since her heart had just been sensitized by a five-month mission trip to Europe, North Africa, and Syria, she was struck by the analogy of that picture to the “broader fields” of human potential she had seen on her trip.
The United States was in the throes of the Great Depression. The Church of God had forty-seven missionaries on the field,
missionaries who managed on inadequate salaries which had been cut repeatedly as the church struggled to stay alive. But Nora Hunter could think of only one thing—those broader fields waiting to be harvested.
A verse from the Bible impressed itself deeply on her: “The Lord gave the word; the company of women that published the tidings are as a great host” (Psalm 68:11 ARV). The two impressions—“the broader fields” and “the company of women that published tidings”—merged in her consciousness until the picture was clear: the women of the Church of God could spread the Word of
God across those unharvested fields? Thus was born the vision of the National Woman’s Home and Foreign Missionary Society.
During the following months, Mrs. Hunter corresponded with the Rev. H.M. Riggle, Secretary of the Foreign Missionary Board, and met with committees of women, ministers, and gospel workers to assure a broad base of support for her idea.
During the 1932 Anderson Camp Meeting, the society was organized; bylaws were adopted and officers were chosen. The women marched from the tabernacle to the auditorium singing, “Onward, Christian Soldiers,” led by Rachel Lord. Fifty-eight women signed as members that day. By the next camp meeting, the society had 948 members and a budget of $1,000. Eventually, state
and local units were organized.
From the beginning the society’s objectives covered a wide variety of concerns, as follows: To cooperate with all recognized agencies of the Church of God in promoting missionary work at home and abroad; to make the cause of missions a heart interest rather than a passing fancy; to study the spiritual, moral, and social needs of the world; to educate the children and
young people of the church in home and foreign missions; to train leaders to carry the gospel of Christ to all people at home and abroad; to encourage liberality and wisdom in the stewardship of prayer, the stewardship personality, and the stewardship of possessions; to fulfill the scripture, “the Lord gave the word; the company of women that published the tidings are as a great
One of the most important early goals was to keep the missionaries on full salary, and the women’s organization has continued its
concern for the material and spiritual needs of the missionaries through the years.
The basic principle of fund-raising was, from the first, that any money raised was to be over and above the tithe so as not to rob
from other ministries of the church. The women often spoke of “gleaning” and “gathering up the fragments,” using what might otherwise have been considered worthless. A great emphasis was placed upon each women’s contributing out of the richness of her own talent—baking, cooking, sewing, whatever her gift. Even in the Depression years, thousands of dollars were in this way put to work for missions.
The name of the society was officially changed in 1974 to Women of the Church of God. Fund-raising remained a major focus, amounting to nearly $2,000,000 annually (including the Christ’s Birthday Offering) for ministries of the Church of God. The ministry sought to challenge and inspire women to a variety of ministries as reflected by its motto, “United in Mission, Friendship, Personal Growth, and Service” and its mission statement: “the mission of Women of the Church of God is to extend the gospel of Jesus Christ, promote spiritual and personal growth, build friendship and interdependence, widen mental horizons and enlarge vision, encourage the stewardship of all of life, and support the united ministries and beliefs of the Church of God through gifts of finance and leadership.”
Women of the Church of God fulfilled that mission. Members supported and gave donations to the Linen Chest, which provides
household needs for overseas missionaries. Women of the Church of God has partnered with National Association Women of the Church of God in the name of sisterhood for two successful national conventions. Programming materials like
Women of Purpose and Sister to Sister meet the spiritual needs of women across the nation. In recent years, opportunities have been made available to women in the form of missions trips. Nora Hunter was moved to action by her trip to the overseas mission field. Women of the Church of God promoted missions trips that would enable women from the United States to have a similar encounter. Trips to Zambia, Russia, Brazil, Kenya, Uganda, and Ecuador have built relationships and widened horizons.
In 2008, Women of the Church of God conducted the Relevance survey to determine the needs of the women in the Church of God. The findings of this survey formed the foundation for the next phase of ministry. The name was officially changed to Christian Women Connection in the fall of 2009. The women in the Church of God have always been willing to adapt and form around the needs of the church. They helped meet the needs of missionaries, missions education in our churches and they helped support the ministries of the Church of God. The next steps in women’s ministry in the Church of God are possible because of the foundations laid by the insightful and Kingdom-focused women of the National Woman’s Home and Foreign Missionary Society, the Women’s Missionary Society, Women of the Church of God, and now Christian Women Connection.