AMERICAN BAPTIST WOMEN'S MINISTRIES OF KANSAS/CENTRAL REGION
As early as 1869 Women’s Mission Circles were organized in the American Baptist Churches in Kansas. In 1871 the Woman’s Foreign Mission Society was founded and in February of 1877 the Woman’s Home Mission Society was founded. The primary reason for founding our own mission societies was that the denominational societies would not commission single women as missionaries. State secretaries for each society organized the work into associations formed by local churches. In 1878 Joanna Moore, at age 46, was first home missionary appointed to work with recently freed slaves in Louisiana.
By 1886 the Woman’s Mission Societies were thoroughly established as a part of the working force of the Kansas Baptist Convention with over 240 local mission societies.
In 1920 the decision was made that we could function more effectively as a single unit combining the work of foreign and home missions and we became ‘The Kansas Baptist Woman’s Union’. Mrs. Robert Ramsey was elected as our first state president. There have been numerous name changes through the years, including in 1979 when we became Central Region instead of just Kansas.
In 1932 when there was a $500,000 denominational deficit that threatened keeping missionaries on the field, women throughout the nation raised 30% through gifts of love. They continued even after the deficit was met and this fund raising later was called Love Gift. Kansas/Central Region women have given over $ 3.8 million since 1937 to support the denominational ministries through Love Gift.
World Wide Guild was organized in 1915 under the Woman’s Foreign Mission Society as a spiritual adventure for our girls – to train, inspire and empower them for Christian ministry and leadership. In 1916 the WWG also became affiliated with the Woman’s Home Mission Society. In 1917 the ladies of the mission boards decided to form the Children’s World Crusade to do for younger children what WWG did for teen-agers.
Many Guild rallies were held in Kansas and the first ‘House Party’ was at Ottawa University in 1923 with 59 girls attending full time and 225 for the evening banquet during the Kansas Baptist Assembly.
The Children’s World Crusade was discontinued in 1941 but reformed for the younger girls in 1979 as Rosebud Guild. In 1993 the Guild Girls and Rosebuds were joined together under one name – AB GIRLS, which is an acronym for American Baptist Girls in Relationships, Leadership and Service.
In 1954 the Woman’s Foreign Mission Society integrated with the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society with the understanding that single women would be commissioned and that women would serve on the Board of Directors.
When the Woman’s Home Mission Society and the American Baptist Home Mission Society integrated their work in 1955, Margaret M. Wenger was serving as the woman’s executive director. Under her leadership, mission programs included juvenile protection, racial tolerance, Christian friendliness, and resettlement of displaced service personnel following World War II. She served ABHMS for two years as special services secretary.