In celebration of more than a century of good works and women’s fellowship, Immanuel, Wetaskiwin ACW President Betty Anne Greenwall welcomed 80 ladies from Wetaskiwin, Ponoka, Airdrie, Edmonton and the surrounding area to the Centennial Wardrobe Fashion Show and Tea on Saturday, October 26.
Ready to kick up some fun in her black flapper ensemble, Greenwall invited the audience on a journey back in time, from the 1920s until present day. With the popular music of the day playing in the background, fashion models Sheila Kluczny, Janet Lein, Joyce Sewell and Camille Pessoa twirled, danced and cheered their way down the runway. The picture of enthusiasm and grace, the ladies appeared in an impressive array of outfits. Their looks included conservative beachwear from the ’20s; sparkling gowns from the’30s and ’40s; a cheerleading outfit and varsity jacket from the ’50s; brightly coloured tie-dye t-shirts and dresses from the’60s; Fortrell polyester pantsuits from the ’70s; and a full length, embroidered denim dress and stylish casual and career wear from the ’80s and from the’90s.
A Bridal Boutique of wedding and brides maids’ dresses (likely even worn for some of the wedding ceremonies performed in the church sanctuary upstairs), provided a fitting backdrop for the fashion show. The boutique was one of several displays throughout the church, which featured period clothing and accessories (even hair curlers), dolls, cookbooks and, of course tins of Immanuel’s ‘infamous’ Christmas Pudding - a fundraising tradition started in the 1960s.
Legend has it that, in 1902, the parish’s first women’s group called The Parish Ladies, was assembled to make meals for Immanuel’s 60-year-old bachelor vicar the Rev. C.H. Andras. (The parish was founded in 1894.) The Parish Ladies set to work helping to build the parish and purchased a house to be used as a rectory. In 1905, they published a cookbook deemed to be the province’s earliest known community cookbook. A partial copy, missing a number of pages including the cover, is now part of the Wetaskiwin Archives collection.
The first formal parish ladies’ group, the Women’s Auxiliary (renamed the ACW in the ’60s) came to be in 1919. The WA had its share of challenges during the ’20s, not the least of which was needing to provide the tables, dishes, silverware and water (for beverages and dishwashing) for every church function. In spite of these challenges they ran countless rummage and food sales, suppers, teas and bridge parties. One of the most memorable examples of a successful social function organized by the WA is the prairie chicken dinner which saw members of the Wetaskiwin community dining on birds shot by the men and cleaned cooked and served by the women. The dinner raised the money needed to pay off the church mortgage.
For the past 100 years, Immanuel’s ACW has led many church and community-building initiatives. The ladies support local women’s shelters and victim services, as well as women and communities around the world in Inuvik, Afghanistan and Burundi. In honour of Valentine’s Day, they host an educational and social day, such as last year’s Women in Peril: Building Compassion workshop. They walk alongside vulnerable citizens by making comfort cuffs for local dementia patients, and this year, through the “Grow a Row to Go” initiative, Immanuel ACW donated 115 lbs of fresh produce to the Food Bank and Wetaskiwin Neighbour Outreach.
During the fashion show and tea, young women of the church, including Madison, Elizabeth, Neyla and Kailey, in fancy dresses from the Wetaskiwin and District Museum and the Waterworks Players Society, a local amateur theatre group, graciously served afternoon tea. They poured tea and coffee into china cups from a silver tea service and offered a seemingly endless supply of finger sandwiches, followed by scrumptious strawberry shortcake for dessert.
In recognition of the ACW’s centennial anniversary and more than 10 decades of joyful giving, Bishop Victoria Matthews presided over a Thanksgiving Eucharist at Immanuel Anglican Church on Sunday, October 6. A special Volume 2 edition of the ACW’s Soups and More cookbook (the original was produced at the request of loyal Lenten Lunches attendees), was also published for the centennial and can be purchased for $10. For more info, email Betty Anne: email@example.com.