Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
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Miss Sallie Story



Winston Churchill said in 1940, in a speech to the House of Commons:


If we open a quarrel between the past and the present we shall find that we have lost the future”.


We don’t live in the past, but we do learn from the past!  A sense of history…a sense of our past…is vital to our becoming a whole person.  Conversely, as sense of the history of Miss Sallie Stuart, our Founder is vital to our wholeness as Episcopal Church Women.  Miss Sallie pushed the past into the present and the present into the future, with her Visions, Hopes & Realities.  Her devotion to God’s work was deep and lifelong.


In 1872 The National Woman’s Auxiliary to the Board of Missions was established, and Missionary Societies were organized throughout Virginia by Miss Sallie Stuart and others.  Building on this, the National Woman’s Auxiliary was formed.



In 1888, Miss Sallie was horrified to learn that Virginia was one of just seven Dioceses to have no Woman’s Auxiliary, the precursor of our ECW.  Miss Sallie, along with Miss Louise Taylor of Norfolk, visited the Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia in person, and asked if they could call a meeting to form a Diocesan Woman’s Auxiliary, using the many already organized mission branches.  The Bishop was quoted as say, “The time is not ripe for organized woman’s work”.  Well, Miss Sallie and Miss Louise quickly changed that!  And in 1892, the Woman’s Auxiliary of the Diocese of Virginia was formed.  Two years later, our Diocese split into two Dioceses, and Miss Sallie Stuart, on demand from all the auxiliaries, became President, Secretary and Treasurer for life, until her death in 1916.  This demand, in fact, was put in the first constitution!


What a lady Miss Sallie Was!  She forged forward, organizing branches in Parishes and Missions.  Miss Sallie was a genteel, forceful, dynamic woman.  Her lifelong motto was “Joy in Service!”  This is duplicated on our Episcopal Church Women’s banner, which was designed by Jeanette Berkeley and Virginia Sales. 


Joy in Service is Miss Sallie’s legacy to us, as is her black onyx cross.  Miss Sallie wore this cross whenever she presided over a Women’s Auxiliary meeting.  The cross now hangs on a gold chain.  Originally it hung from necklace of large jet beads that were strung on a black grosgrain ribbon, tying into a bow at the back of the neck.


The cross stayed in the possession of the Stuart Family until 1950 when they give it to the Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia.  It is now worn by every new Diocesan ECW President during her tenure.


Contributed by Mary Jenks, Past Historian and Ruth Gibson, Past Diocesan ECW President