Women's Fellowship

Women's Fellowship was formed in 1942. Mrs J. Oliver Hornabrook and Dr. Colin Roberts convened a group of women under the auspices of Home Mission to discuss what could be done to train women for leadership, to co-ordinate the work of the various women's meetings around the country and to meet the social and pastoral needs of women whose lives had been disrupted by war. The Conference of 1944 approved the name and constitution of the Women's Fellowship as a branch of Home Mission. Its first Chairman was Mrs Harold B. Rattenbury. The welfare work initiated by the WF included Annesley House, a Mother and Baby Home for unmarried mothers, opened in 1948 in Christchurch Road, Streatham and transferred to a site near Wimbledon Common in the 1960s. From 1972 until it closed in 2004 it served as a hostel for young women working or studying in London. Women's Fellowship's main emphasis was on training, through connexional 'schools', District Councils and family holiday conferences. A Young Wives' movement was formed. The work continued until Women's Fellowship and Women's Work amalgamated in 1986 to form Women's Network.

A further transformation in the women's movements of the Methodist Church in Britain took place on 1st July 2011, when Women's Network and the British Unit of the World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women (WFMUCW) joined together as part of Methodist Women in Britain (MWiB), a new movement aiming to develop the work of training pioneered by Women's Fellowship, along with the World Church emphasis of Women's Work, both of which had been continued through Women's Network with its motto of 'encouraging, enabling and equipping' women. MWiB is committed to finding new ways to engage with women throughout British Methodism and ecumenical churches as well as linking them with women around the world. MWiB operates through a brand new website (www.mwib.org.uk), regular newsletters, regional, national and international conferences and training events. It is run by a small executive of volunteers and a larger Forum, on which each district is represented, along with other areas of women's activity in the church. Creative spirituality along with a passion for social justice in a global context shape the activities and emphases of the movement.

  • Morwena Bielby, A Great Host (1965)
  • Methodist Recorder, 12 August 2004