History of Church Women United in Madison, Inc.
The Madison Church Women United dates back to 1924 when
representatives of 17 churches met together and formed the Women’s Church
and Missionary Federation. In 1934 the name was changed to The Madison
Council of Federated Church Women. Four years later, the group became know
as the Madison Council of Church Women. The national Church Women United was
begun in 1941 with the name United Church Women, and the Madison unit
adopted the name in 1950. In 1968 the national body became Church Women
United and the Madison unit became Church Women United in Madison.
Church Women United has worked on various projects over the years independently and at times in cooperation with other groups. The Madison CWU sponsored Vista workers in Madison for several years. This gave churches an opportunity to help programs, e.g. a free health center.
For several years an Interfaith Day brought women together from the Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Mormon, and Protestant faiths. Other efforts in the past include a forum allowing AFDC mothers to tell their stories. A seminar was held on the Vietnam War. One year World Hunger was a special feature with women distributing information at the Square. During the International Year of the Woman, video programs of women in various professions were taped and broadcast on the Public Access Channel. A free clothing center was operated with Dane County Social Services for several years.
In 1976 CWU established the Madison Ecumenical Center after
the dissolution of the Madison Area Community of Churches. In 1992 the
Global Express Shop was established, an outgrowth of the effort to store and
sell SERRV and SELF-HELP handicrafts from around the world at the Madison
Ecumenical Center. The Global Express Shop resided for 15 years in the train
on West Washington, helping people around the world survive by selling their
handmade items of beauty and usefulness. CWU and Global Express celebrated
the success of our goal to introduce Fair Trade to Madison. There are now a
number of Fair Trade shops in the city and nearby communities. The Global
Express Shop closed in mid-2007.
About 1985 the formation of an ecumenical women’s choir gave women of many churches the opportunity to sing and enhance the Celebrations worship services and some special events. Another ongoing project of many years duration was that of member churches providing cookies each week for Head Start.
Today over 50 churches of various denominations support Church Women United in devotion, study, and ecumenical action.