The Concordia Seminary Guild, St. Louis will celebrate its 75th anniversary during the Seminary’s 2007-08 academic year. The Guild, consisting of more than 600 members from the St. Louis area and from other parts of the United States, meets six times each year on the Seminary campus for luncheon and brunch meetings. Its purpose is to support Seminary students and their families by adopting and funding an annual list of projects. The 2006-2007 list of projects exceeded $21,000.
The group traces its history back to a dedicated group of women from Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) congregations near Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. In 1932, this group, called the Lutheran Woman’s League of Greater St. Louis, was organized and included a committee called “The Concordia Seminary Students’ Welfare Committee.” The committee, chaired by Mrs. John H.C. Fritz, wife of the Seminary’s dean of students, had as its purpose to “arouse a deeper interest in Concordia Seminary and its students by the women of St. Louis and surrounding territory.”
The committee’s first event, held Tuesday, Nov. 1, 1932 at 2:30 p.m., was one in which the LCMS women of greater St. Louis were encouraged to bring “a jar or two of preserves or jelly for the Seminary kitchen.” The letter of invitation indicated that the committee hoped to fill the Seminary’s 400-seat dining hall and that in return for their participation, the Seminary “has promised to treat all the ladies to a cup of good Seminary coffee.”
The response to the invitation was astonishing. More than 1,100 women attended and brought “jars of homemade jellies and preserves and baskets of potatoes, apples, pears, and dozens of eggs.” The enthusiastic response was repeated in subsequent years. Between 1932 and 1940, approximately 11,000 women attended the annual “Jelly Showers” and donated more than 23,000 jars of jellies and other canned items to the Seminary. In addition, the women donated $2,806.25 over the same time period. A 1937 Milwaukee, Wis., newspaper article described the 115 members of the Concordia College, Milwaukee Ladies’ Aid who were boarding two chartered buses carrying suitcases filled with jars of jam and jelly, along with sweaters, coats and other clothing for Concordia Seminary students.
The same spirit of compassion and concern for the students of Concordia Seminary inspires the current members of the Concordia Seminary Guild. “The Concordia Seminary Guild is for anyone who has an interest in supporting the Seminary and its students and families,” commented Barbara Huggins, president of the Guild. “It is for anyone who wants to provide needed items for the campus and students which are not ordinarily furnished by the Seminary.”
The list of Guild projects for 2007-2008 totals nearly $22,000 and includes textbooks, clergy shirts, the Seminary cycling program, the Concordia Seminary Chorus and the student emergency fund. The Guild does not engage in fundraising activities, supplying the funds for its projects exclusively through membership dues and offerings received. Individual memberships in the Guild are available for $8 per year and membership for groups and organizations is $15 per year.
For more information, or to be added to the Guild’s mailing list, write to Concordia Seminary Guild, c/o Communications, 801 Seminary Place, St. Louis, MO 63105; call the Concordia Seminary Communications Department at 314-505-7374; or visit the Seminary’s Web site at www.csl.edu, go to CampusLife, then SeminaryGuild.