During the years between 1990 and 2000, PW included six morning circles and one evening circle and met year-round with a different schedule in the summer. Between September and May, each circle had their own Bible study and then gathered with all circles for the general meeting to enjoy a special informative program followed by lunch. Circles took turns hosting the lunch each month and members paid $1.00 to help cover lunch expenses until 1995 when the luncheon price was increased to $2.00. In the summer the membership met as a single body for Bible study followed by lunch. Each circle supported a special community project and several “TLC” members (members who were no longer able to attend PW.) Prior to 1997 the PW calendar followed an October to September schedule. In 1997, PW adopted a January to December calendar. A sampling of the service projects included local agencies such as Turning Point,
Presbyterian Community Center, West End Center, and the Roanoke City Nursing Home. PW participated by contributing food, clothing, time, and labor to help others. There also was a service circle in which members rolled bandages for the Medical Benevolence Society to transport to Hopital Ste. Croix in Haiti. In January 1995 three Presbyterian Women traveled on a mission trip to Haiti.
During this decade, Presbyterian Women were instrumental in urging session to consider updating the kitchen and fellowship hall and adding additional Sunday School classes to accommodate an influx of young families with infants and young children. This urging started in 1993 and then in 1997 the construction and remodeling of the new RCPC fellowship hall was initiated. In 1993, for the first time in RCPC history, a woman, the Rev. Gene B. Edmunds was hired as an associate pastor while a woman, Mary Jo Shannon, served as Clerk of Session and editor of the Raleigh Court Herald for many years. Women served on both the session and diaconate as well as serving as Sunday School teachers, ushers, and were instrumental in the working and supporting of all ministries of our church.
Members of PW contributed to the church at large by helping serve and clean up at fellowship dinners, sending cards of encouragement, putting together college care packages, helping to plan and implement the Mission Conference in February of 1993, making costumes and scenery for choir musicals, hosting Presbytery of the Peak meetings, helping with Vacation Bible School, etc. They were instrumental in sponsoring a Haitian family through the Refugee Resettlement Program providing child care, tutoring in English, contributing furniture, clothing, etc. Members also participated in the Monday morning prayer group, the Hunger Mission Group, helped with the children’s programs and youth group and serve on the Altar Guild and as Stephen’s Ministers. Presbyterian Women could be found contributing to every ministry of the church.
PW hosted a “Lunch for Two program for several years where they gave an additional dollar for lunch that was given to RAM House to help provide lunch for those in need. Members participated throughout the years in PW fall, spring, and summer gatherings, as well as in special community programs focusing on “New Opportunities for Presbyterian Women”, “Cycle of Violence,” “Glimpses of Home: Biblical Images of the Realm of God,” “Seeding Sisterhood Workshop,” “Humor and Your Health,” etc.
As membership started to decline during the middle 90s, a Membership Development Commission was formed to formulate a plan for increasing the PW membership. Plans were completed and implemented with a new circle being formed for young working women who were unable to attend daytime meetings.
Presbyterian Women collected a Birthday offering traditionally during the May meeting, a Thanks Offering in November, a Christmas Joy Offering in December and a Least Coin Offering every month.
2000 – 2009
During this decade, PW moved down to three circles due to decreased numbers but the women of PW continued to participate and volunteer in many activities of the church including the Monday morning prayer group, Keenagers (a group for retired men and women), taught and assisted with Kid’s Kirk, prepared and cleaned up after communion services, were responsible for the altar flowers, served in the Stephen Ministry Program, served as youth group workers and leaders, planned and staffed Vacation Bible School, made quilts for each child born into the church, served as dedicated choir members, worked as church receptionists, repaired choir robes, helped with family night suppers, prepared meals for shut-ins, and provided food for receptions for new members and for receptions after funeral services for families of deceased RCPC members. In the historical records of PW in 2008, it was noted that PW members also volunteered at West End Center for Youth, Rescue Mission, Presbyterian Community Center, and schools in the area. Other members of PW joined the hurricane relief team and made trips to Kiln, Mississippi to help repair damages to homes.
PW hosted several Mother-Daughter banquets during this time period for the enjoyment of participants and in the hope of sparking interest in young folks to hopefully one day become PW members.
The monthly programs offered during the General Meeting during this decade were varied, inspiring, and educational utilizing guest speakers within the church and within the community at large.
2010 – 2019
During the decade between 2010 and 2019, the attendance continued to wane and it became more difficult to find women willing and able to take on leadership roles such as being Bible study teachers. The finances of the Presbyterian Women were struggling as well. In August of 2011 a meeting was called to discuss ideas to address concerns about membership and participation. Everything was on the table so a solution could be found.
At this time women serving on what was named the “Funeral Committee” asked permission to organize a mission group separate from Presbyterian Women so that others, including men, might feel more willing to participate in this time-honored tradition usually done by the Presbyterian Women. The motion was made and carried. This committee provided and continues to provide a lovely reception for a grieving family to be able to greet friends after a funeral or memorial service.
The women worked hard to plan a new format for PW, which was unveiled in September of 2011. The plan, spearheaded by the incoming Moderator Joan Bowers, included a unified Bible study to be led by the pastor, Tupper Garden. There would no longer be monthly guest speakers, but a luncheon would still be held as usual. The women knew there would be kinks to work out, but wanted to give this new format a try. Much effort was given to publicity and by January 2012 everyone was enjoying the new format. Five younger women were now attending requiring a nursery once again and forming Circle 4. By December 2012 attendance was up to 54 women. Joan Bowers agreed to be the moderator again in 2013.
As the new format was being adjusted the women addressed their financial situation by asking the session to include PW in the operating budget of the church to cover meeting expenses. A request of $1800 was approved for 2014 expenses.
In the Spring of 2012 Tupper Garden announced he was leaving as our Pastor and our Associate Pastor, Josh Robinson, stepped in to serve as the teacher. Josh soon announced his departure as well in June 2013, and Presbyterian Women scrambled to find Bible study leadership. Nancy Dawson, Presbytery of the Peaks Presbyter, answered the call and became the teacher in the Fall of 2013.
Presbyterian Women once again experienced a decline in membership and reduced the number of circles back down from four to three. They also decided to have the lunches in 2014 catered in an effort to make it easier on the circle members serving as the hostess. However, by March it was obvious that catered lunches were too expensive and caused a drain on already stressed finances. Lunch prices were raised to $5 but catered lunches were suspended at the end of the year. In 2014 Barbara Carter, Raleigh Court Presbyterian Church Administrative Secretary, announced her retirement. The Presbyterian Women established the Barbara Carter Preschool Scholarship in her honor and bestowed on her an Honorary Life Membership in Presbyterian Women award. This scholarship would help families in need attend our church preschool program. Barbara sent her grandsons to the church preschool and loved the program dearly.
In 2015 Circle 3 under Lisa Goad’s wonderful direction started preparing lunches each month. This was met with great success and rave reviews. Session included PW once again in the church budget in the amount of $1605 for meeting expenses. A night circle was started in the home of Gini Agee. Nancy Dawson announced after serving as the Bible study teacher for 3 years that she needed to step down. She was given a quilt made by Pat Wade and a basket of gift cards to thank her for her faithfulness. Barbara Nesmith, a church member, agreed to take the leadership in serving as the Bible study teacher. In October PW was asked to close their independent checking account and use the church bookkeeper. This proposal was investigated and a plan created to keep our collections and disbursements for benevolent giving and for lunch expenses in a restricted account and to continue to be included in the church budget for meeting expenses. This was passed at our December meeting and began in January 2016. The PW Treasurer began working closely with the bookkeeper to request checks and make deposits after PW meetings.
Presbyterian Women had a busy year in 2017. A worship service was planned to Celebrate the Gifts of Women in March. The women led all parts of worship for both services and Rachel Erb preached the sermon. Our By-laws were updated and approved. Our membership increased and we continued to serve The Salvation Army Turning Point through monthly donations of items they needed in addition to supporting The Barbara Carter Preschool Scholarship, and the Blanket, Thank and Birthday Offerings through PW of PC(USA). (The Joy Offering had been discontinued since it became a church-wide offering.)
In 2018 Cathy Slone and Susan Kessler attended the Presbyterian Women’s Churchwide Gathering in Louisville, Kentucky. They came home with several exciting ideas leading to another busy year in 2019. The session continued to support PW with a budget of $1200 for 2019. We hosted a College Girls and their Mother’s Brunch in January. Held a Paint “Afternoon” for all women in the church in March with 20 women attending. In September we hosted the Annual Fall Gathering for PW in Peaks Presbytery. This gathering was attended by over 100 women. Several of our women knitted prayer squares to share with all of the attendees. The mission project was collecting “Handbags for Hope” to be given to women through various agencies in our surrounding communities.
As 2019 came to a close, Presbyterian Women continued to struggle with the ever-present concern about membership. The evening circle ended and PW membership consolidated to two daytime circles with less than 30 women participating. The passion of the women, however, to uphold the mission of Presbyterian Women was still strong. The women continued to give to the Barbara Carter Preschool Scholarship and remained committed to serving the Salvation Army Turning Point Shelter with snacks, umbrellas, pajamas, Kroger gift cards, bus passes and more. The women continued to give generously to Least Coin, Thank Offering, Birthday Offering, Blanket Offering, and House of Bread. Many members of PW continue to be seen throughout the community giving time and sharing talents with various organizations. An ongoing strength of PW is that women in PW care for one another through prayer, learning together, serving together and in fellowship with one another. They also care for those unable to attend meetings by sending cards, making phone calls and by visiting when they can.
During most years between 1990 and 2019, an Honorary Life Membership Award was presented to honor a woman who exhibited faithful service to Presbyterian Women and to the church. This award has been given to the following people during this time period.
Honorary Life Membership
1990 Mrs. Margaret Allison
1991 Mrs. Oakey Van Doren
1993 Miss Emma Hunter Maxwell
1994 Mrs. Phyllis Stephens & Mrs. Martha Edmunds
1995 Mrs. Frances Blair
1996 Mrs. Sterling Kephart
1997 Mrs. Sara Dabney
1998 Mrs. Carol Branch
1999 Mrs. Frances Trent
2000 Mrs. Susan Kessler
2001 Mrs. Molly Koon
2002 Mrs. June Paxton
2003 Mrs. Mary Jo Shannon
2004 Mrs. Lois Jones
2005 Mrs. Jeanne Pritchard
2006 Mrs. Gussie Taylor
2007 Mrs. Mimi Erb & Dr. F. Tupper Garden
2008 Mrs. Helen Ammen
2009 Mrs. Margaret Lyon
2010 Mrs. Marilyn Martin
2011 Mrs. Jo Thomason
2012 Dr. Joan Bowers
2013 Mrs. Shirley Carlton
2014 Mrs. Helene Vest
2015 Mrs. Lola Landers
2016 Ms. Pat Wade
2017 Mrs. Camilla Cabaniss
2018 Mrs. Lisa Goad
2019 Mrs. Glenna Fisher & Mrs. Barbara Nesmith