Remembering our history

The Women's Missionary Society

This year is the 115th anniversary of the significant efforts of EFCA supporting global missions.

This month, the EFCA celebrates the 115th anniversary of the Women’s Missionary Society, founded by Hulda Jacobson, a Swedish immigrant in Chicago. After sharing about the needs of two single, female missionaries in China, the women from five Swedish Free Churches in Chicago came together to support missions.

Image of Hulda Jacobson with a blurb about her history
Hulda Jacobson, founder of the Women's Missionary Society

The new Women’s Missionary Society’s first goal was to raise funds for a missionary residence in Canton, China. Soon, women from Free Churches in five states joined them. By 1916, they had raised $12,000 to give the residence debt-free to the EFCA Conference.

The Society’s first president, Josephine Princell, led much of the initial growth with her natural leadership gifts, good education and great vision. The Women’s Missionary Society was granted formal affiliation with the EFCA in 1909 and churches across the country began to form chapters. Jacobson served for two decades as the recording secretary.

Over the years, they took on the support of some of our women in the field, typically one from each field. But they also undertook annual projects for different fields, including Tandala Hospital in Congo, student housing in Venezuela, land in Japan, furnishings for the Trinity Chapel and dozens of others. Over the years, they contributed over $100,000 to the mission of the EFCA.

A black and white photo of a group of nine older women sitting around a table
A White Cross group from Thief River Falls Evangelical Free Church in Minnesota

In 1949, many EFCA groups began White Cross ministry, making and shipping supplies for the mission hospitals and orphanages, among other needs.

Although this women’s ministry doesn’t exist at the national level today, countless churches have their own groups still serving faithfully in their local context and supporting mission work around the world.

Tom Cairns

Tom Cairns is the archivist for the EFCA. A physician who worked for 19 years in Congo, Tom later served as director of international ministries for the EFCA mission, now known as ReachGlobal. Since retirement, Tom enjoys sharing stories about the history of the EFCA, answering questions from our churches and helping the churches with their own stories. He also uploads our historical books, photos and documents to our archive website. Tom’s great desire is to bring glory to God as we celebrate the history we have in the EFCA.

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