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Minerva Strawman Spreng

Founder of Woman’s Missionary Society of the Evangelical Association

At age twenty, Minerva Strawman was invited to a missionary tea given by the Woman’s Missionary Society of the United Brethren Church. Delighted with what she saw and heard, she asked her father, a minister and member of the Board of Missions of the Evangelical Association, if the women in their church could have such a society. She was advised that a petition would have to be presented to the Association’s Board of Missions for approval. One was written and signed by fifty women of the Evangelical Association and presented to the Board in 1880. It was approved, and Miss Strawman and the women of the Lindsey, Ohio church immediately organized the first Woman’s Society in the Evangelical Association.

Minerva Strawman Spreng was elected third vice-president of the Woman’s Missionary Society of the Evangelical Association when it was organized in 1884. From 1892 to 1922, she was its president and then president of the Women’s Missionary Society of the Evangelical Church from 1922 to 1924, a total of thirty-two years. During the church’s Centennial Celebration in 1940, a $50,000 Memorial Chair of Missions was established at Evangelical Seminary, Naperville, Illinois, in recognition of her missionary zeal.

Taken from They Went Out Not Knowing… An Encyclopedia of One Hundred Women in Mission (New York: Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church, 1986). Used with permission of United Methodist Women.

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