United Church of Christ

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This month we observe Mother’s Day, but did you know that Mother’s Day originated as an anti-war and peace movement? The first attempts to establish a "Mother's Day" in the United States came from women's peace groups. A common early activity was the meeting of mothers whose sons had fought or died on opposite sides of the American Civil War. In 1868, Ann Jarvis created a committee to establish a "Mother's Friendship Day," the purpose of which was "to reunite families that had been divided during the Civil War." Jarvis –who had previously organized "Mother's Day Work Clubs" to improve sanitation and health for both Union and Confederate encampments undergoing a typhoid outbreak –wanted to expand this into an annual memorial for mothers. However, she died in 1905 before the celebration became popular.

The next attempt at establishing Mother’s Day was Julia Ward Howe’s "Mother's Day for Peace," an anti-war observance first held on June 2, 1872. Howe believed that women had a responsibility to shape their societies at the political level. In 1872 she asked for the celebration of a "Mother's Day for Peace" on June 2nd of every year, but was unsuccessful.

Mother’s Day finally became a reality thanks to Anna Jarvis (Ann Jarvis’ daughter), with the help of Philadelphia merchant John Wanamaker. Jarvis campaigned to establish Mother's Day first as a U.S. national holiday and then later as an international holiday. On May 8, 1914, the U.S. Congress passed a law designating the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day. The next day, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation declaring the first national Mother's Day as a day for American citizens to show the flag in honor of those mothers whose sons had died in war.
In honor of Mother’s Day, I share with you Julia Ward Howe’s "Appeal to womanhood throughout the world" (later known as "Mother's Day Proclamation")

“Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts, Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies, Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice." Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war, Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means Whereby the great human family can live in peace, Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask That a general congress of women without limit of nationality May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient And at the earliest period consistent with its objects, To promote the alliance of the different nationalities, The amicable settlement of international questions, The great and general interests of peace.”

Pastor Leslie

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