Fundraising has always been a key part of Bruce’s organizations, and the most popular fundraiser through the 1800s and well into the 20th Century was that of the signature quilt. Signature quilts raised funds through subscribers paying to have their name embroidered on it, and to receive a raffle ticket for the draw. The usual price range was between ten and twenty-five cents per name, and some quilts have well over 200 names, making signature quilts effective fundraisers. Signature quilts were popular with ladies’ groups as they drew upon their needle skills, and it was a useful item; an extra blanket was always welcome. Women’s groups within the church fell into two categories, Ladies Aid Societies, and Women’s Mission Societies or Mission Circle.
Ladies Aid Societies
A staple organization of churches, regardless of denomination, is the Ladies Aid Society, whose main goal was to raise monies for the church. Most histories published by the churches themselves pay tribute to the efforts and accomplishments of their Ladies Aid Society and note that most of these societies are as old as the church itself. Through a variety of fundraising efforts including quilt raffles and signature quilts, Ladies Aid Societies have contributed to the mortgages of churches and manses, purchased items such as communion sets and linens, and paid the organists, in order to provide for, and aid, the spiritual comfort of the congregation and the community at large.
Mission Societies and Circles
Another organization within the church were the Mission Societies or Mission Circles. The goal of these groups was to provide clothes, blankets, and funds to established missions around the world. Many Mission Societies and Circles were named after a missionary from their own community, as was the case with the Edith Clarke Auxiliary of the Teeswater United Church, or to honour someone outstanding within the congregation, such as the Annie Stephan Mission Circle, and the Maude Alexander Mission Circle, both of the Walkerton Baptist Church.
A large part of these groups was education to members. Often done through church publications such as the “Watch Guard Towers”, members could read articles about the situations of others worldwide and the Christian work being done there. According to the minutes of the Colpoy’s Bay Women’s Missionary Society (Methodist Church), each member took an area such as India, Africa, China, and British Columbia, where the focus was on First Nations and new immigrants, and reported to the other members. After the presentations, the group decided where to focus their efforts, often divided between several missions.