St. John’s Women’s Retreat is a monthly gathering open to all women for a time of education, Bible study, mission work & fellowship. It is usually held at the church the second Saturday of each month September – June from 9 am to noon. Refreshments are available during an informal gathering time before the program begins. There is often a guest speaker or a speaker from the group to lead a topic of interest, and sometimes a book review and discussion of a book designated at the previous meeting. Women are invited to attend any month whether you can make one, several, or all the meetings each year.
A highlight of the Women’s Retreat is the annual early December Saturday morning Women’s Christmas Tea, a special gathering complete with traditional and contemporary tea party table decor and menu. A guest speaker provides information on mission projects of interest to our church women. All women of the church and their guests are welcome whether or not they can attend the regular monthly gatherings during the year. More than 90 women attended our 15th annual Women’s Christmas Tea in December, 2018!
Historical Notes About Women’s Organizations At St. John’s
The current St. John’s Women’s Retreat is a contemporary extension of our past St. John’s ‘Women’s Guild’ and “Circle” meetings. These organizations were formed by all the Reformed churches in the North Penn Valley in 1941, when few women worked outside the home and were not given positions on the church consistory. The ‘Circle’ groups primarily met during the day, often at member’s homes, for a gathering of learning, discussions, mission work and fellowship. They came together for meetings as the “Women’s Guild” for discussions, speakers and projects, often with several hundred women in attendance. (See our St. John’s Stories page for the time in 1952 when author Pearl Buck spoke to the Women’s Guild gathering of 325 people!) This Guild was very well organized and documented – our St. John’s archives room contains several large binders of minutes, notes and newspaper articles concerning the activities and speakers of this group going back to the 1940’s era. Before that, there were St. John’s women’s groups which met in women’s homes in the 1920’s known as the “Thimbles”, which ended in 1932. And before that, the St. John’s Ladies Aid Society served the congregation.