First Congo member Sara Companik has been named by Samaritan Counseling Center as their 2018 Connie Steele Woman of Strength! Sara was nominated for her tireless commitment to restorative justice through the Prison Ministry Network as well as the ways she stands up to injustice through ESTHER, the League of Women Voters, this congregation’s ministry, and much more.

Today is a good day to recognize strong, courageous women. Mother’s Day started out as a recognition of many women whose contributions to justice and peace improved the world around them. Some history:

We often forget the radical roots of Mother’s Day.  Far from being an intimate celebration of family life, Mother’s Day had its origin in work for justice and peace.

It all started in the 1850s, when West Virginia women’s organizer Ann Reeves Jarvis held Mother’s Day work clubs to improve sanitary conditions and try to lower infant mortality by fighting disease and curbing milk contamination, according to historian Katharine Antolini of West Virginia Wesleyan College. The groups also tended wounded soldiers from both sides during the U.S. Civil War from 1861 to 1865.

In the postwar years Jarvis and other women organized Mother’s Friendship Day picnics and other events as pacifist strategies to unite former foes. Julia Ward Howe, for one—best known as the composer of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”—issued a widely read “Mother’s Day Proclamation” in 1870, calling for women to take an active political role in promoting peace.

Around the same time, Jarvis had initiated a Mother’s Friendship Day for Union and Confederate loyalists across her state. But it was her daughter Anna who was most responsible for what we call Mother’s Day—and who would spend most of her later life fighting the limitation and sentimentality of what it had become.

(by Ann Hanson; see

This backstory for Mother’s Day is helpful as many of us celebrate those we call “Mom” this Sunday, but also as we reflect on the many women who inspire us. Congratulations, Sara, and THANK YOU to the many women in our lives and in this community, whose concern for peace and justice makes our world a better place!

Your friend and fellow minister,

Pastor Kathryn Kuhn

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