May 19, 2010


For the past 102 years the women of Erb Street Mennonite Church have met regularly to sew, cook, can, bake, make funeral sandwiches (the best in Waterloo Region !) bake pies; quilt for the Relief Sale, knot, patch, raise funds... and they are still meeting monthly and still completing many of those tasks.

You might ask: Why wasn’t the 100th year recognized? When you finish reading this, you’ll see why. The women were too busy quilting and knotting their way through those years! This year they managed to pause, and on Tuesday, April 20, Erb Street Mennonite Church women celebrated the beginning of the group whose name was the Waterloo Charity Circle. In Erb Street’s history book, titled Path of a People: Erb Street Mennonite Church 1851 - 2001, Karl Kessler devoted 11 pages to the then 93-year-old women’s organization, starting on page 67: “And Still Do More”: Women of Action. He wrote that “The church work of Ontario Mennonite women has a history of reaching back further than 1908, but that year does mark the beginning of organized women’s work in the officially recognized program of the church.”

For a few hours on that celebratory Tuesday afternoon, comforters were knotted, a quilt was stitched, and stories were told. “Great God the Giver of all good” was sung and – amid much chatter and laughter – a delicious comfort-food supper was enjoyed: scalloped potatoes with sausage, jellied salad, mixed vegetables, and angel food cake with lemon sauce for dessert.

Grace Schweitzer, president of the Erb Street WMCEC, hosted the evening’s program of readings and hymn singing, led by song-leader Ruth Jantzi, with some historical trivia added. Readers Jean Fretz, Elsie Shantz, Carolyn Morris and Lucille Weber gave glimpses of the women’s mission work, meetings; items sewn, embroidered, knotted and quilted; social committee meals cooked, relief sale pies baked. Mary Snider Martin, Lynn Jewitt Keller, Merlyn Snider Martin and Grace Martin Schweitzer sang “Somebody” from Junior Hymns, and “When we walk with the Lord” (“Trust and obey”).

Marion Roes

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Photos by Marion Roes

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