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Minutes of local societies indicate that programs usually consisted of a prayer, a song, a scripture reading, and occasionally a devotional message, followed by business transactions. Historical Sketch, Woman's Auxiliary, Waco Baptist Association (1928), p. 9. The same general format was observed at the annual state meetings, with the addition of reports from any missionary present, but the latter appear to have been fortunate happenstances. Not until 1888 was the motion finally made that in the future "the ladies of the place at which the meeting is held, in consultation with, and aided by the state officers, shall prepare the program for said meeting." Annual Report of the BWMW of Texas, 1888, p. 42. Male missionaries and

denominational officers also frequently addressed the women, and reports of women's work were always brought to the state association meeting and read by a man. As simple as this procedure appears, it stymied the small groups of women that met in local churches. Through the 1890s poignant letters from women appeared in denominational papers telling of difficulties in knowing what to do when they met and in finding even a single person to speak out. "None of them ever belonged to anything of the kind before," explained one writer, in whose society only one woman would lead a public prayer. BS, September 26, 1895, p. 7. "At first it comes hard to lead in prayer," confessed another woman, "but if we are only willing to try, God will speak through us." BS, February 9, 1893, p. 2. Editorial response continually prodded the reticent:

Don't refuse to do any kind of work that is put upon you in your society because you don't know how. You will never learn younger--there is more force in that old saying than we are accustomed to credit to it. If you had not been refusing to do so many things so long you might have had some experience by this time. Enter right into the work and you will be astonished to see how quickly you can learn and how easy and pleasant it is after you know. BS, March 31, 1892, p. 7.

The assistance with methods and personnel that Fannie Davis's extraordinary personal efforts required in order to strengthen and unify the fledgling Texas BWMW came in the latter half of her administration from three main sources: the organization of a southwide WMU, the naming of Mina Everett as a paid organizer for Texas women's mission work, and the development of a state newspaper forum for Baptist women. The first of these, the formation of a SBC women's organization, had been facilitated by calling for the organization of the state central committees of women in 1878. Some members of these committees met informally at the SBC meeting throughout the 1880s to exchange experiences. Fannie Davis was present in Baltimore in 1884 at such a gathering for "prayer and consultation." A. Hunt, p. 20. According to Hunt, men were barred from these gatherings except by special invitation to speak. By 1887 the circulation of women's mission publications and the effective correspondence of female missionaries (particularly, Edmonia and Lottie Moon, who served in China), gave the women enough resolve to face resistance head-on and call for an official convocation of three female delegates from each state represented in the SBC to meet at the 1888 convention in Baltimore for the specific purpose of forming a general organization. Prefacing their action with the acknowledgement that "the brethren are our guardians . . . [we] are only trying to follow them as our leaders and trying to carry into practice what they have taught us from pulpit and press," Ibid., p. 30, quoting from organizational minutes of WMU, Richmond, Virginia, 1888. the women from ten states adopted a constitution and elected officers. Although the officers were from the eastern states and headquarters were established in Baltimore, Fannie Davis and two other representatives from Texas were there and stood firmly in favor of the new organization.

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Source:  OpenStax, Patricia martin's phd thesis. OpenStax CNX. Dec 12, 2012 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11462/1.1
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