The Hyles Church Manual

by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)

(Chapter 17 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, The Hyles Church Manual)

17. The Women’s Missionary Society

Many Women’s Missionary Societies have deteriorated into nothing more than Ladies’ Aid Societies, civic clubs, etc. Several years ago at the First Baptist Church in Hammond we completely reorganized the women’s work, and it has been a joy and a blessing ever since. We have received many letters and inquiries from pastors concerning this work. Upon the receipt of one such letter I asked Mrs. Erma McKinney, who was serving at the time as W.M.S. president, to answer the letter. Following is the letter from Mrs. McKinney to the inquiring pastor and the outline she enclosed:

of First Baptist Church Hammond, Indiana

June 24, 1966


1. To provide Christian fellowship for the ladies of our church.

2. To inform the ladies of missionaries of history and of the present time.

3. To provide a means for the ladies to assist the missionaries whom we support, and to suggest missionary projects for our Girls’ Lamplighter Society.

4. To provide assistance in our local work.


1. Elected Officers: President, Vice-President, Program Chairman, Secretary, Assistant Secretary, Treasurer, Assistant Treasurer, Song Leader, Pianist.

2. Appointed Officers: Spiritual Life Chairman, Used Clothing Chairman, Membership Chairman, Circle Leaders, Registration Chairman.

3. Duties of each officer:

(1.) President: To oversee the entire work of WMS, to appoint officers, to preside at all the general meetings, to call meetings of circle leaders and general officers as needed, to visit each circle during the course of the year in order to learn the pulse of each group and to get acquainted with the ladies of these groups, and to perform any other duties that would involve arranging for general meetings and aiding the circle leaders to organize their meetings and groups.

(2.) Vice-President: To preside over the general meetings in the absence of the president, to take care of newspaper publicity, to type announcements for the pastor to make from the pulpit and to be printed in the Sunday bulletin, to work very closely with the president as the president’s “sounding board” before bringing ideas or recommendations to the other officers and circle leaders.

(3.) Program Chairman: To arrange for the main speaker and program for the general meeting.

(4.) Secretary: To keep minutes of all the general meetings and all the officers’ and circle leaders’ meetings.

(5.) Assistant Secretary: To read and take minutes in the absence of the secretary.

(6.) Treasurer: To take the offerings at the general meetings; to care for paying the bills; to have the checks for nursery workers, speakers, any who have spent money for general meeting expenses; to send checks to those organizations that are written into our budget; to keep the books; and to read the report at the general meeting. (The books are audited by two ladies at the close of each WMS year-these ladies are appointed by the president. A checking account is maintained at the local bank so that everything is done “decently and in order.”)

(7.) Assistant treasurer: To read the treasurer’s report in the absence of the treasurer at the general meeting and to assist in taking the offering at the general meeting.

(8.) Song Leader: To choose the music to be used at the general meetings and to arrange for special music at the general meetings.

(9.) Pianist: To play the piano at the general meetings.

(10.) Spiritual Life Chairman: To meet with the president during the summer to choose a spiritual theme for the WMS year that begins in September; to choose Scripture verses to fit this theme for each month of the year; to compile the monthly prayer sheet that is used in the general meeting; and to arrange in advance for a lady to lead in prayer during the prayer time of the general meeting. (The prayer sheets are mimeographed in the church office, but the subject matter is provided by the Spiritual Life Chairman. She compiles the news from letters received from our missionaries and adds the verse for the month and a poem on devotional thought. Occasionally all the missionaries, the college students, or the servicemen are listed in addition to the missionaries’ prayer requests. Enough copies of the prayer sheet are made so each lady can take one home to use in her daily devotional time.)

(11.) Used Clothing Chairman: To assist the superintendent of the mission keeping the church’s used clothing room organized. (We maintain a used clothing room, with racks and shelves for clothing, shoes, scarves, etc., brought by members of the church from time to time.)

(12.) Membership Chairman: To send each new lady member of the church a form letter which welcomes her to the membership of our church and also invites her to attend the WMS general meetings and circle meetings. (Periodically a list of the names, addresses and approximate ages of ladies who have recently joined the church is obtained from the church office. The membership chairman utilizes this list as do the leaders of the circles in personally inviting the new ladies to attend the meetings.)

(13.) Registration Chairman: To take registrations after the Sunday services for the general meeting that is to follow the next Tuesday, to take registrations over the phone at her home until noon the Monday before the meeting, to arrange the names of the registered ladies into alphabetical order so that she can receive their payment for the luncheon as they arrive for the general meeting. (We never sell anything or serve any meal with the purpose of “making” money. All the work of our church is carried on by offerings. The luncheon cost cares for the expenses of the general meeting.)

(14.) Circle Leaders: To act as president of her own circle, organizing her group with volunteer and/or appointed officers.

(15.) Nursery Chairman: To call nursery workers for each general meeting, giving their names to the treasurer so that they can be paid the $2.00 for the afternoon that we pay in addition to furnishing their luncheon meal.

4. Members: Every lady member of the First Baptist Church of Hammond is automatically a member of the WMS. She is therefore welcome and invited simply to attend in order to become active. No dues are paid and there is no required number of meetings to attend in order to join. Every announcement concerning a general meeting of WMS is for every lady and her guests. Every circle announcement is made with her in mind if she cares to come.

5. Groupings

(1.) The general meeting: The entire group meets together once a month in what we call the general meeting.

(2.) The circles: The entire group is divided into circles, each circle meeting separately once a month at a time other than the time of the general meeting.

III. Program

1. General Meetings

(1.) The Luncheon: We meet at 12:30 the first Tuesday of each month in the church fellowship hall. A different circle each month takes care of the meal, and another circle cares for the decorations. We charge .75 for adults and .25 for children. The money collected for the luncheon is allocated in the following manner:

a. The serving circle is allowed $35.00 for purchasing food in addition to the dishes they prepare individually. (Those serving are not required to pay the .75 charge.)

b. The decorating circle is allowed $4.00 for supplies.

c. The two nursery workers each receive $2.00.

d. In order that the serving ladies need not miss the meeting, our rescue mission men clean up the kitchen and are paid $3.00 for this task.

e. Any remaining funds are applied to the cost of decorations for the annual Mother-Daughter Banquet, which is held in May.

f. Payments to outside speakers are made from the offerings taken at the general meetings.

2. Agenda

a. Group singing is led by the song leader while tables are quickly cleared.

b. Business includes the following:

(a) Reading of the minutes of the previous general meeting and the officers’ meeting as well.

(b) The treasurer’s report.

(c) Announcements of future WMS meetings.

(d) Announcements of any plans for the work of WMS.

(e) Recommendations. (Any recommendations brought to the ladies have been discussed thoroughly by the officers or officers and circle leaders so that a minimum amount of time is spent on voting or any items of business.)

c. Special music is presented.

d. A prayer time for our missionaries is conducted.

e. The program is presented.

3. Types of Programs

a. Speakers:

(a.) The director of the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago.

(b) The lady in charge of the women’s work at the Pacific Garden Mission.

(c) Any of our missionaries who are in the area.

(d) Our own staff members.

(e) Devotional speakers from within our own group of ladies.

b. Films of the mission fields where our missionaries are serving.

c. College meetings conducted by our own college students singing, testifying, and speaking. Also, films of colleges we would recommend are shown so that the parents can be informed.

d. Skits portraying the work of our staff.

e. Christmas musical programs presented by our own singing groups.

f. Tape recordings from our missionaries. (These are provided by us, but made by the missionary so we may “get acquainted.”)

g. Tears of our parsonages, our rescue mission, and the Pacific Garden Mission.

h. Installation service for the new officers.

4. Organization

(1.) Division of the ladies is based upon various things-young married ladies’ circle, deaf ladies’ circle, single ladies’ circle, others with mixed ages contain ladies convenient to a central location. The ladies are free to choose any convenient circle.

(2.) Names of the circles are chosen from the names of countries where our missionaries serve. (If more countries’ names are available than needed, one circle could bear two countries’ names until there is need for another circle to be formed; for instance, Japan-Mexico Circle.) If the church should at any time decide not to extend support to a certain missionary for some reason such as retirement, etc., the change is more gracefully made if the circle is not named for individual missionaries but rather for the field is which they serve.

(3.) Meeting time-once a month. Some meet in the afternoon, some in the evening, some the second Tuesday of the month, some the third Tuesday-the meetings vary. Sometimes a potluck is chosen by a circle to be served at lunch or supper time; sometimes the circle chooses to work at the church during the day on some project that can better be done there; or they meet at their regular meeting time in the home of one of the circle members.

(4.) Officers of the circles-leader, co-leader, secretary-treasurer, corresponding secretary, devotional chairman, project chairman.

(5.) Programmed followed in a circle meeting:

a. A time of devotions and prayer is led by a member of the circle arranged for by the devotional chairman. The devotions are given either from a book selected by the WMS officers, who have purchased a copy for each circle, or from the thoughts compiled by the person presenting the devotions.

b. A report on a missionary’s work is presented. This is in the form of a book report about some past missionary or a compilation of letters and materials obtained from missionaries whom we now support. Two methods have been used for these reports. Some years a list of books is given to each circle, and a schedule is drawn up for ladies of the circle to present the reports to their own circle. Other years “roving speakers” are selected. Each speaker (a lady from our church) presents her book report to a different circle each month according to a schedule drawn up by the WMS president. Both methods work well if careful check is kept on them-books selected and “roving speakers.”

c. Correspondence is read from the circle’s missionary, shut-in, college student, and/or serviceman.

d. Time is spent on a project which requires sewing, etc.

e. Refreshments and fellowship usually conclude the meeting.


1. For our missionaries: The types of projects which we undertake for our missionaries are, of course, dependent upon their needs and the feasibility of shipping because of weight, duty involved, etc. If we can determine duty ahead of time, we’ll send to the mission board of the particular missionary a check designated for that missionary in the amount of the duty which he will have their needs are, asking them to state specifically their personal needs and the needs of their mission field. Of course we can guess their personal needs many times. WE know, if they have a family, items of clothing and reading material, such as subscriptions to Reader’s Digest, Sword of the Lord, etc., might be enjoyed by them. Food items that they cannot buy would be a real treat to them: cake mixes, soft drink mixes, certain canned goods, etc. On some fields used clothing us badly needed and boxes of it can be sent. Bibles can be purchased through Bible societies and sent in out name to the mission field. Quilts are a needed item on many fields, both for the use of the missionary and also the people on their field. We make and but baby clothes each year, for these are needed items in many places.

2. Local:

(1.) The used clothing room on the church property is well stocked. We keep not only donated clothing but also newly-made quilts and baby clothes to be distributed among our own repairing.

(2.) Baptismal robes constantly need replacing and repairing.

(3.) We help bereaved church families. It is determined how much food is needed for the meal after the funeral (and perhaps for longer periods of time than this) and decided what kinds of dishes and how many should be brought. Circles take turns providing dishes and help. The church budget allows for buying a large ham for any bereaved family.

(4.) Our ladies do things around the church that are not included in the custodian’s duties: wash the artificial greenery in the auditorium, mend songbooks, clean the church kitchen (cabinet, refrigerators, etc.).

(5.) Our church maintains a rescue mission. The Ladies make personal effect bags and fill them with shaving cream, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. They also bring handkerchiefs, socks, etc. We have had schedules for the different circles to bring dessert dishes to the mission.

(6.) Each circle is provided with names of shut-ins, servicemen, and college students from our church family. On their birthdays and at other special occasions cards are sent with the assurance that the ladies are praying for them. To the shut-ins visits are made periodically, taking baskets of fruit and other gifts at Christmas, Thanksgiving and perhaps at birthdays.


1. Budget-General Meetings: The budget is set up at the beginning of each WMS year (the fall) designating sums to different organizations, such as Child Evangelism, World Home Bible League. Pacific Garden Mission, etc. We try each year to review the merits of each designation, and if we feel that there is some reason for not using the Lord’s money in support of a group, we do not recommend to the ladies that we support them again.

2. Extra Needs-General Meetings: When we hear of special needs throughout the year, we consider them and vote upon whether we can send money.

3. Circles’ Finances: The offerings taken in the circle meeting are disbursed according to the wishes of the ladies attending that circle. Many times recommendation is made by the general group that all the circles help in one certain project.


1. How decided:

(1.) By officers and circle leader during the summer.

(2.) With a twelve-month period in mind, plans are made for September through August. (New officers are installed in the June meeting and actually take office in July, carrying out plans for the July and August general meetings that were made by the outgoing officers.)

(3.) By individual circles. (Some choose to meet during the summer; some do not.)

2. Yearbooks:

(1.) Made up by officers.

(2.) Contents to be of aid to all ladies attending.

(3.) About 4” x 6” in size, mimeographed and bound in book form. Listed are the names of all the officers with their phone numbers; names of our missionaries and their addresses; a separate page for each month of the year showing the verse for that month, the names of the serving and decorating circles for that month; circle names, times of meeting and their leaders’ names and phone numbers; and other helpful information to which the group can refer throughout the year.


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