“Frozen Minnesota will yet, God helping her found a mission at the Equator”. A strange statement indeed but it was the reply of Mrs Mary Nind, the then corresponding secretary to the Minneapolis branch of the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society to Rev. William Oldham’s plea for a woman worker in Singapore. Her reply led to the arrival of Miss Sophia Blackmore in Singapore on 18th July, 1887. Ms Blackmore was the first woman missionary from Australia. With her arrival, work among women and children was organized and in 1892, a Women’s Conference was formed. And that is the start of the Women’s Fellowship which evolved to Women’s Society of Christian Service or Methodist Women to-day.
In the early churches, Women’s Fellowships were organized as part of the policy of organizing programmes for the training and development of women to enable them to participate in most areas of church life. The Women’s Fellowships were under the leadership of missionaries of the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society (WFMS) and wives of missionary pastors (like Mrs Pykett). These women’s groups were started in the local context and became known as the Ladies Aid and Dorcas societies in the English, Tamil and Chinese speaking churches. Various programmes related to Bible study, talks on the care of the home and family, Christian education for children, nutrition, child-care, health and hygiene, cookery, sewing, fund-raising for the local church, teaching Sunday School classes, singing in the choir etc were organized according to the needs of the women.
In our church a woman need only take advantage of the splendid organization that has been evolving so successfully over a long period of years and that offers her, whether she is the humblest or the mightiest, the most ignorant or the most learned a place where she may serve her Lord. By experience, it has been found that she can render her most effective service through those practices that require patient perseverance, unshakeable faith in the ultimate goal over long periods of sustained effort. She can hear the drudgery, the insignificance, and the seeming hopelessness of the task that men are unfit to undergo – all because she knows how to wait for results. Such abilities very early came to be recognised as a valuable ‘aid’ to the Pastor, and the women were soon grouped into an organization known all over the Methodist Church as the “Ladies’ Aid Society”.
On 5th December 1976, the General Conference WSCS of the Methodist Church In Malaysia was constituted. This historic occasion which took place at Merlin Hotel, Kuala Lumpur was witnessed by delegates from the five WSCS Annual Conferences : Chinese Annual Conference (CAC), Sarawak Chinese Annual Conference (SCAC), Sarawak Iban Annual Conference (SIAC), Tamil Annual Conference (TAC), and Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC).
Elections were held, and the following formed the Officers of the 1st Executive Committee of GC-WSCS.
Mrs. Flora R. Knight
Mrs. Betty Teng
Mrs. Patrick Yeo
Mrs. Lim Ee Eng Hua
Coordinator of Spiritual Life
Mrs. Jenny Rabbu
Coordinator of Christian Education
Mrs. J C Loh
Coordinator of Social Concerns & Outreach
Dr (Mrs.) Saro Pakianathan
Mrs. C N Fang
Mrs. G S Arumugam
On 6th December 1976, the first meeting of the GC WSCE Executive Committee was held and the draft Constitution was approved at this meeting. A Joint Committee for Women’s Work (JCWW) of West Malaysia was formed on 24th April 1977. They assumed responsibility for the following properties : The girls’ hostel in Kuala Lumpur and Taiping, the Methodist Community Centre, Ulu Klang and the Workers’ Residence in Kuantan.
In 1988, the girls’ hostel in Kuala Lumpur and Taiping, and the Workers’ Residence in Kuantan had been disposed of and the only responsibility of the JCWW was the management of the Methodist Community Centre, Ulu Klang – now known as the Methodist Women’s Centre.