Church Women United in Dallas
Church Women United in Dallas is a unit of a national ecumenical movement through which Christian women from Protestant, Roman Catholic, Orthodox and other denominations express their faith by prayer, advocacy and service. CWU in Dallas also participates in worship services at various area churches and works with other local organizations to promote awareness of many social issues. Since inception, the CWU in Dallas has embraced its purpose of translating religious conviction into action.
CWU in Dallas is affiliated with similar councils on the state, regional and national levels. The unit is a member of CWU in Texas, which was organized in 1934. CWU in Dallas hosted state assemblies in 1936, 1939, 1948, 1957, 1965 and 1987.
The CWU national organization was formed in 1941 through a merger of the National Council of Church Women, the Council of Women for Home Missions and the Women's Committee for Foreign Missions. The national organization was founded as a racially, culturally and theologically inclusive ecumenical women's movement, celebrating unity in diversity and working for a world of peace and justice.
CWU in Dallas was organized in 1912 by Maria Morgan (Mrs. L.P.) Smith, who served as president for ten years. The organization's name was originally Interdenominational Council of Church Women, but was later changed to the Federated Council of Church Women.
During the 1920s, the organization adopted the Homemakers Industrial School located at State Street and Washington Avenue as a project.The school trained African-American girls in homemaking skills and the boys how to make a living. The school was deeded to the YWCA in 1927, and eventually became the Maria Morgan branch of the YWCA. During the 1920s, the group advocated availability of library facilities to African-Americans in Dallas.
Other causes espoused during the 1920s included fighting racetrack gambling; assisting juvenile courts in rehabilitation of youth; buying a piano and teaching girls in jail to play it; assisting in a free clinic run by the County Medical Association; and supplying Hope Cottage with diapers, toys and games. Also launched was an unsuccessful campaign to discourage church women from wearing rouge and lipstick.
During the 1930s, the organization worked with Self-Help Garden Clubs to garden on 3200 vacant lots in the city. Members helped form the Visiting Nurses Association to bring care to the poor. Upon the suggestion of the organization's founder, Maria Morgan Smith, the group integrated by merging the Negro Council of Church Women into their organization. In 1938 the group's name changed to the Dallas Council of Church Women. A new building for the Maria Morgan branch of the YWCA broke ground in 1939; CWU in Dallas contributed $8,000 of the total building cost of $12,000. The new branch was dedicated in 1940.
During World War II, the organization was active in the induction center at Love Field, the Veterans Hospital at Lisbon and a Sunday afternoon coffee hour called "Twilight Hour" at the USO. For their USO work, the Dallas Council of Church Women was awarded, in 1946, a "Certificate for Meritorious Service in USO War Work." Also during the 1940s the group coordinated with the Jewish Sisterhood and Catholic Women's Council in a clothing drive for war refugees, filling a boxcar with 20,000 pounds of clothing. In 1948, the group endorsed Truman's civil rights program. As a result, one church withdrew its membership in the organization, because they charged that the Council "had entered politics." By 1953, the church was once again listed in the yearbook.
The national organization's name changed to United Church Women in the early 1950s, and the Dallas organization followed suit in 1954. Efforts were directed to the Migrant Center in Priceton, Texas (near McKinney), helping to equip it as well as provide Spanish translations of books. The Center provided services to hispanic migrant workers and their families.
The 1960s brought a focus on study of poverty, directed toward improving neglected areas of the city. The group conducted a study of drop outs and assisted with the Senior Citizens Craft Bazaar. Members also assisted the chaplain at Parkland Hospital. For the first time, World Day of Prayer materials were produced in Spanish and Braille. Food, clothing, home furnishings and playground equipment were donated to the Migrant Center in Princeton, partly through the saving and redemption of "Green Stamps." During the late 1960s the organization adopted its current name, "Church Women United in Dallas."
CWU in the 1970s became the first ecumenical women's group to hold a desegregation workshop. Marion Dillard, a retired YWCA executive, was the first African-American president of CWU in Dallas and served from 1974-1975. The group publicly advocated for the Equal Rights Amendment. Margaret Estes, President of CWU in Dallas, spoke before the Equal Rights Amendment Committee of the Texas Legislature in 1977. Programs supported by the organization included Meals on Wheels, juvenile justice, a migrant ministry and a jail ministry. CWU in Dallas' first Interfaith Day included clergy from Protestant, Jewish and Catholic faiths.
In the 1980s members volunteered to tutor and mentor students at City Park Elementary School, which housed a day-care center and school for children of homeless women who were staying with their children at the Downtown Family Shelter. Ongoing involvement included serving on Greater Dallas Community of Churches advocacy committees and participating in the Women's Council's Homeless Task Force. In 1988, CWU in Dallas co-sponsored the International Women's Peace Conference with Southern Methodist University.In July 1989, the national CWU office issued a press release that the organization opposed criminalization of abortion in line with its commitment to the achievement of justice for women. As a result, one major organization withdrew membership from CWU national.
Benefits were held in the 1990s for women's shelters and after school programs to expand fellowship and support local agencies. In particular, the group collected funds for blankets for the needy and personal items for the jail ministry. In 1998 the Dallas Peace Center gave its Annual Peacemaker of the Year award to CWU in Dallas for their dedication to peace and justice within the church community as well as within a variety of cultural, racial and national communities. Also during the 1990s CWU in Dallas received the Crystal Gavel Award for Community Service from the Women's Council.
The years 2001 and 2002 began an effort to increase visibility of CWU in Dallas and network with other organizations to increase CWU's presence in the community. A reunion was held to honor past presidents of CWU in Dallas. The group teamed with the League of Women Voters and the Women's Council to discuss peer abuse among youth as part of the Community Awareness Day. In the post-9/11 world, the president of CWU in Dallas reached out in friendship and attended the Post Ramadan dinner of the Islamic Association of North Texas. Homelessness in Dallas was the focus of a program co-sponsored with the League of Women Voters.
The 2004 board retreat focused on change. Declining revenue as well as attrition of renewing members prompted a re-examination of how to better inspire and involve members, as the organization adapted to a new millennium.
BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONAL WOMEN'S DIVISION
The Business and Professional Women's Division of Church Women United in Dallas was organized in 1938 and originally included representatives from fifteen business and professional circles in various Dallas churches. The purpose paralleled that of the larger organization. However, meetings and celebrations were held in the evenings and fewer events and celebrations were embraced. The group disbanded in 1976 because of "concerns such as transportation, evening meetings, meeting places and cost of meals."
CELEBRATIONS AND EVENTS
The CWU in Dallas holds six regular celebrations and events annually. Because the organization's active year begins in September and continues through May, they are presented in the order in which they occur.
The Fall Forum is held in September. It is the first meeting of the organizational year, and is a time of sharing plans and programs in Dallas for the coming year, as well as encouraging participation from as many church women as possible.
World Community Day is celebrated in November. It is a national CWU event that brings together women from across the community in a common worship experience focusing on issues of justice and peace.
Community Awareness Day falls in January. It emphasizes issues of local community concern; it is a time to discuss possible solutions and look at opportunities for involvement.
Interfaith Day is celebrated in February. It is a day for bringing together CWU and women of other faiths for dialogue and exploring relationships between Christianity and other religious faiths.
The World Day of Prayer, held in March, is a national celebration day, as part of a worldwide observance reinforcing bonds among Christians in over 179 countries.
May Fellowship Day (also called May Friendship Day) includes the annual business meeting and installation of new officers. It is also a time of worship and study, and a time for building and strengthening relationships in order to take action on behalf of community needs. This day includes the annual collection for the Fellowship of the Least Coin, a worldwide ecumenical movement of prayer for justice, peace and reconciliation that supports projects for women and children around the world.
The organizational information above was based primarily upon information contained within the collection, such as Box 1, Folder 1, Annual Reports; Box 1, Folder 3, Awards and Honors; Box 1, Folder 18, Board Retreat 2003-2004; Box 2, Folder 15, History; Box 2, Folder 34, CWU Yearbooks 1953, 1962-1963; Box 2, Folder 39, Business and Professional Women's Division Minutes; Box 2, Folder 40, Business and Professional Women's Division Activities; Box 3, Folder 17, Texas Church Woman Newsletters (April 1976); Box 4, Folder 13, Handbook and Directory 2001-2002; Box 4, Folder 20, Printed Matter; Box 4, Folder 30, Fall Forum 2003; Box 8, Scrapbook 1939-1949; and Box 9, Scrapbook 1953-1954 and Scrapbook 1962-1963 ("Resume of the History of the Dallas Council of Church Women 1912-1939" and "The Green Sheet"). Also referenced were the Dallas Public Library's Vertical File on the Young Women's Christian Association, and the Dallas Morning News Historical Archives, particularly "Federated Church Council Changes Name and Elects," November 21, 1938; and "Professional Church Council is Organized," November 23, 1938.
The collection is primarily concerned with Church Women United in Dallas, but also contains information from the organization at state and national levels. Some materials relate to activities of the Business and Professional Women's Division of CWU in Dallas between 1964 and 1976, when it was disbanded.
Generally, information in the collection includes material on the history of CWU in Dallas, board meeting minutes, business and financial records and materials concerning advocacy issues, events and activities in which CWU in Dallas participated, as well as publicity flyers, brochures, programs and notes from ecumenical celebrations.
Scrapbooks include clippings and memorabilia from activities and events as well as pictures. A few informational video tapes and books are included, as well as a quilted wall hanging that was signed by members in the late 1980s and a banner, also autographed, from 2001.CWU in Dallas interfaces with other local organizations in their activities, and so the collection contains materials from numerous groups in the Dallas area.
The collection is divided into five series: administrative records, activities and events, advocacy and community resources, scrapbooks and ephemera.
SERIES I - ADMINISTRATIVE RECORDS 1953 - 2005 (Bulk 1994 - 2005)
This series consists of five subseries. Generally, the series contains materials related to the daily activites and operating records of Church Women United in Dallas. The first subseries concerns only CWU in Dallas. It includes minutes of board meetings, the unit's bylaws, annual reports, financial records, general correspondence, membership records, printed materials, the local newsletters and notes from the annual board retreat. Also included are yearbooks for various years between 1953 and 2005. Yearbooks for 1939-1948, 1950-1952, 1953-1954 and 1963 are contained in the scrapbooks in Series IV.
The second subseries concerns the Business and Professional Women's Division of CWU in Dallas, These records include board minutes and information on activities from the 1960s until the group's disbanding in 1976.
The third subseries concerns the Church Women United in Texas. It includes notes and materials from annual assemblies, brochures, directories and copies of newsletters.
The fourth subseries relates to regional CWU conferences and communications to individual units.
The fifth subseries concerns the national organization of Church Women United. It includes printed matter, notes and materials from annual conferences, directories and copies of the national magazine, "Church Woman."
SERIES II - ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS 1971 - 2005 (Bulk 1989 - 2005)
This series is divided into two subseries. Generally, this series contains materials related to events and activities in which Church Women United in Dallas participated. The first subseries concerns regular and recurring events and activities. It includes brochures, flyers, notes and programs. The second subseries concerns special events and activities, and contains programs, brochures and pictures. A few of the pictures are identified, but most are not.
SERIES III - ADVOCACY AND COMMUNITY RESOURCES 1978 - 2005 (Bulk 1994 - 2005)
This series contains materials related to issues on behalf of which Church Women United worked, as well as resource materials related to those issues. In carrying out its mission, CWU in Dallas networked and cooperated with numerous other local organizations. This series also contains information about these organizations as well as invitations to events, publicity, flyers and brochures.
SERIES IV - SCRAPBOOKS 1939 - 1999
This series contains scrapbooks covering the years 1939-1954, 1962-1963 and 1994 to 1999. The scrapbooks contain news clippings regarding individual members and CWU's participation in community activities and events as well as memorabilia. Also included are photographs taken at events; some photographs are identified. The scrapbooks also contain yearbooks for 1939-1948, 1950-1952, 1953-1954 and 1963.
SERIES V - EPHEMERA 1966 - 2001
This series contains video tapes, books, slides, a quilted wall hanging signed by members in the late 1980s and a banner, autographed in 2001. Also included are signs and placards for certain events, a laminated news clipping from 1966 and a signed ecumenical recommitment (2000).
Detailed Description of the Collection