Archive for Friday, September 26, 1997


September 26, 1997


The United Methodist Women breathed new life into pioneering predecessors at a "For Mothers of Faith" program.

She died before the turn of the century. But this week, Elizabeth Fisher came back to life.

Thanks to Ruth Ann Paddock and other local members of the United Methodist Women, pioneering Methodist women like Fisher were honored in a "For Mothers of Faith" program at the United Methodist Church, 946 Vt.

"Elizabeth Fisher saved her husband, the Rev. H.D. Fisher, from Quantrill's Raid," Paddock explained. "She draped an old carpet over him and piled chairs on top."

Paddock, like the other 10 women who presented the program, did her own research and tried to give an accurate portrayal of the lives of women who made strides in organizing what would become the United Methodist Women.

"Some of these ladies (pioneers) came to serve the Lawrence church and started the Ladies Social Circle, which was the first women's organization," Paddock said. "It was a forerunner of the United Methodist Women."

The United Methodist Women organization was started 25 years ago nationwide.

Participants in the program dressed in period costumes as they took on the personality of the women who came before, and told their stories.

"I'm telling how it was when I came to India," said Roberta Gingerich, who portrayed Isabella Thoburn, the first Methodist woman to be a foreign missionary.

Thoburn set sail for India from New York on Nov. 3, 1869.

"She revolutionized education in India," Gingerich said.

Gingerich gave her performance dressed in all black except for a big white bow tied at her chin, just as Thoburn wore in photos Gingerich found. The black bonnet and cape were Gingerich's family heirlooms, hearkening back almost as far as Thoburn's day.

"The most interesting thing is that each woman here researched her own character and put together her own material," Gingerich said. "All the women took such an interest and were authentic in their costumes."

Perhaps no one was more authentic than Cindy Johnico.

Johnico, a member of the Lawrence Indian Methodist Church, played the part of Annie Grinter.

Grinter was of mixed heritage, and a member of the Delaware tribe. She married a white man and gave up membership in her tribe to be with him.

Johnico visited The Grinter Museum and The Grinter Chapel, site of Grinter's home in Kansas City, Kan., as part of her research.

"She was a magnificent woman," Johnico said. "In her tribe there was a massacre of 90 Christian men, women and children, and she still had faith. She also practiced her own (tribal) faith, but raised her children as Christians."

Johnico said that the importance of the "For Mothers of Faith" presentation was in remembering those who came before.

"These women did all these great things, and it wasn't forgotten," she said. "It's a really touching thing."

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