My mother has been sorting family documents and came across something among the papers of my great grandmother Margaret Black: it was a typed resolution, dated circa 1905, perhaps from a Church women’s group, which said in part:
UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED: that as it has been felt to be necessary to organize among friends of the Deaconess House in Toronto and throughout the country, and bring them into relationship with the work, [we recommend…] that there may be established an organization to be known as “Associates of the Church of England Deaconess and Missionary Training House”.
The resolution went on to say that associates were required to be regular communicants, to be in “full sympathy” with the teachings of the Deaconess House, and to undertake to pray, at least once a week, “definitely for the work.” They were further expected to “receive and forward all material aid for the work”, to distribute “reports or other literature”, and to pay the Head Deaconess an annual fee of $1.00.
More than a hundred years later, CCS still relies on its Friends throughout the country – to be in relationship with our work, to be in full sympathy with our teachings, to “pray definitely” for our work, to receive and forward material aid, to distribute information, news, and other literature.
We actually don’t have an annual fee for membership. Instead, our Bylaws are very generous about who qualifies as Friends (and members) of the Corporation of the Centre for Christian Studies Inc. Canada. The list includes current students, Committee or Working Group members, graduates of CCS and its predecessors, graduates of the Western Field Based Diaconal Ministry Program, honorary members admitted by the Annual Meeting, or anyone admitted as a Friend by the Central Council.
If you fit or want to fit into any of those categories, please send your RSVP to participate in the Annual Meeting on the evening of February 29. Better yet, invite your Friends. And thank you for being one!