History Of St. John’s Women’s League
When St. John’s was thirteen years old, Pastor Friedrich Pennekamp, its third pastor, organized the first women’s organization on September 1, 1887. It was the Frauenverein (Ladies Society). The first officers of the Frauenverein were Mrs. Sophie Klein (president), Mrs. Helen Nussbeck (vice-president), and Mrs. Louise Pennekamp (secretary-treasurer). In 1942, during World War II, it decided to assume an English name. Since the second women’s organization of the St. John’s was known as the Ladies Aid, the Frauenverein adopted the name of Senior Ladies Aid. In 1947, on its sixtieth anniversary, it disbanded; and its members joined the other women’s organizations of the congregation. The last officers of this organization were Mrs. Tina Kohlschreiber (president), Mrs. Selma Reich (vice-president), Mrs. Hedwig Lehenbauer (secretary), and Mrs. Katherine Horstmann (treasurer).
A number of ladies met at the home of Mrs. Marion W. (Emilie) Snyder on August 12, 1915, and organized a Ladies Aid Society. The objects of this society were to aid students preparing for the holy ministry, to help educate teachers for our parochial schools, to help the congregation, and to aid the orphans, sick, and needy of the congregation whenever help was needed. Their first officers were Anna Miller (president), Ottilie Vogel (vice-president), Emilie Snyder (secretary), and Ethel Schmidt (treasurer). In 1955, the Ladies Aid and the Tabitha Society merged to from the Chancel Guild. The last officers of the Ladies Aid were Mrs. Andrew Gehrt (president), Mrs. Delbert Ross (vice-president), Mrs. George Barthuly (secretary), and Mrs. Ed Rahmeier (treasurer).
The Tabitha Society began to organize in November of 1929, and in April of 1930 the congregation gave formal approval for this group to be the third women’s organization of the parish. The objects of this society were in general the same as that of the Frauenverein and the Ladies Aid; however, it especially did quilting and sewing, including fancy work. They made and sold plain and fancy tea towels and did sewing for the needy. They made dresses and shirts for children at the Winfield Orphanage. One of the society’s major events was the annual Silver Tea, at which were displays of quilts and other handcrafted items. At times these women were also involved with a chicken dinner and an ice cream social. Their meetings included either a lecture or an educational topic. Their first officers were Mrs. William Noller (president) and Mrs. F. A. Eggert (secretary-treasurer). In 1955 the Tabitha Society and the Ladies Aid merged to form the Chancel Guild. The last officers of the Tabitha Society were Mrs. Henry Kerbs (president), Mrs. Harold Brower (vice-president), Mrs. Victor Stuewe (secretary), and Mrs. Paul Senne (treasurer).
On February 28, 1935, the Woman’s Club was organized to “supply necessary recreation for the women of the congregation and to create a closer fellowship among those who have no opportunity to meet in the afternoon.” During 1935, Women’s Club officers were the officers of the Ladies Aid plus two board members, Mrs. Carol Black and Mrs. Freda Moege. The first separate officers of the Woman’s Club began in 1936. These were Mrs. Walter Fedder (president, who died on March 6 and was succeeded by the vice-president), Miss Mathilde Hoyer (vice-president), Mrs. Fred J. Steinmeier (secretary), and Mrs. Hulda Kruse (treasurer). In 1956 the club merged with the LWML.
Lutheran Women’s Missionary League
Members from all of the women’s organizations who were particularly interested in mission work and mission study formed the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League on November 30, 1942. The Kansas District Lutheran Women’s Missionary League was organized on May 16, 1943, at a meeting of about 200 women, among whom were 57 delegates representing 37 congregations. This organizational meeting of the Kansas District LWML was held at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Topeka, Kansas; and among the first officers of this new District organization were two members of St. John’s, Topeka: Mrs. C. A. Hass (president) and Mrs. F. A. Eggert (executive board member). The first officers of St. John’s LWML were Miss Eleanor Stolp (president), Mrs. Walter T. Schmid (vice-president) and Mrs. M. M. Ronsick (secretary-treasurer).
The Chancel Guild was formed by the merging of the Ladies Aid and the Tabitha Circle in 1955. The officers in 1955 were Mrs. Henry Kerbs (president), Mrs. Herman Dale (vice-president), Mrs. C. A. (Elesa) Hass (secretary), and Mrs. Paul Senne (treasurer). The Chancel Guild ceased to exist the next year (1956), because the Chancel Guild, Woman’s Club, and LWML merged to form a new organization.
St. John’s Women’s League in Affiliation with the International Lutheran Women’s Missionary League
This woman’s organization, was formed by the merger of all three women’s organizations of the parish. The constitution of the new society was signed by 50 women on November 20, 1956, and by another 50 women on December 18, 1956. The first officers of the Women’s League were Bernice Douglas (president), Irene Munk (vice-president), Eleanor Stolp (secretary), and Merla Rogers (treasurer). The Women’s League, which meets quarterly, also divides itself into circles that meet monthly for study and fellowship. They are involved in many service projects for St. John’s and the community and also raise money for missions. In addition to the circles, the Women’s League also includes two informal organizations that meet weekly: the QUILTERS GROUP, which hand finishes quilts to earn money for missions, and the LUTHERAN WORLD RELIEF SEWERS, which makes quilts and assembles other supplies for refugees around the world. It should also be noted that a few years ago, the ALTAR GUILD was formed. The Guild is separate from the Women’s League and is involved with matters pertaining to the Chancel and the Sacraments.
On September 1, 2007, the St. John’s Women’s League was 120 years old, for its roots go back to the Frauenverein. We give thanks to God for the hundreds and hundreds of faithful women who have served their Lord and their parish during this time through the Women’s League and in other ways. To all who still serve today, a big THANK YOU!