Monday Memories – GFS Australia- South Australia

The site of the first GFS meeting in Australia in September 14, 1879 held at Government House Adelaide, convened by Miss Lucy Jervois the Governor’s daughter.

The Australian G.F.S., through South Australia, soon made its mark in the highest councils of the movement.

Mrs Harmer, wife of the Archbishop of Adelaide, and Diocesan President, suggested in England and had adopted a plan for a world day of intercession for G.F.S. The date fixed – June 23, 1898. Later, of course, September 29, St Michael and AH Angels’ Day was set as the special day of G.F.S. prayer.

The Society’s verve in South Australia was amply demonstrated by Silver Jubilee time in 1904, when some original associates still helped with the work.

They were Mrs Marryat and Mrs Z.A. Dutton, Vice­ Presidents: Mrs Field, Treasurer; Mrs Stokes and Mrs Webb, council members; and Miss Hardy, Secretary.

More than 1000 members and associates gathered in the Exhibition Building for addresses by Bishop Harmer and other clergy. Next landmark was G.F.S. week, 1910, marking 30 years’ work in South Australia, including a mass meeting, an exhibition at Holy Trinity, an Associates’ conference and an intercession service in the Cathedral.

The G.F.S. also took a close interest in the British Girls’ Welfare Association, a non-denominational organisation for migrant welfare.

The South Australian G.F.S. Lodge opened in 1913 in a rented building in Kermode Street, North Adelaide. The building was inconvenient, but the G.F.S. carried on there until 1916 when Mrs Robert Barr-Smith bought and gave the G.F.S . a house in Pennington Terrace, North Adelaide.

In 1915, the G.F.S. joined the Travellers’ Aid Society. An associate met every mail steamer, advising any un­attached women and girls where to board, and passed them on to other states if necessary.

The G.F.S. in 1920 sought a voice on the National Council of Women. Mrs T.R. Bowman, a G.F.S. Vice­ President, and Miss D. Goode, also of the G.F.S. were later elected President and Secretary of the NCW.

Golden Jubilee of the G.F.S. in South Australia came in 1929, and celebrations included a social in the Exhibition Hall, a pageant, “The Quest” in the hall, special G.F.S. intercessions, tea in the hall for past and present G.F.S. members, followed by a procession to the Cathedral for the jubilee Festival Service.

Four years after the link with the NCW, the G.F.S. Members’ Diocesan Committee was appointed and in 1920 a Married Members’ Association was formed.

The South Australian society marked the 50th anniversary of the G.F.S. in England with the gift of a fine banner to the Dean and Chapter of St Peter’s Cathedral in July, 1925.

In keeping with the G.F.S. tradition for service, down the years South Australian members have broadened their horizons beyond merely parochial considerations.

Among those serving as missionaries were Sister Ethel Nunn, Miss Mary Offe, Miss Isabel Leonard, Mrs South­ wood, Miss Nellie Hullett, and Miss Ethel Halley.

Other examples of service include wartime membership of the forces, duty in factories, the Red Cross, and other war organisations. Some branches have given fine gifts to their parish churches, others support students at missions, and many work for missions or church homes.

The Commonwealth Chairman, Mrs R.E. Richards, visited Adelaide for the 80th birthday celebrations in 1959, a garden party given by the Archbishop and Diocesan Chairman, Mrs T.T. Reed, drawing G.F.S. people from city and country.

The State-wide flavour was enhanced by the special thanksgiving service in St Peter’s Cathedral. About 60 Country members, associates and juniors came from country branches. Some travelled 150 miles, and billets were arranged in city G.F.S. homes for the weekend.

The G.F.S., at home with everyday affairs, also likes to remember, as at Christ Church, North Adelaide, in 1960 where 500 women gathered for reminiscences.

The South Australian G.F.S. prides itself on remarkable records of unbroken service from All Saints’ Hindmarsh, formed 1880, St Bartholomew’s Norwood (1886) and All Souls St Peters (1897). These days the G.F.S. has annual festival services, handcraft exhibitions, sports, picnics, camps and lodge parties… all popular.

Here is a link to “Adelaidepedia” about the Hostel https://adelaidepedia.com.au/wiki/Girls_Friendly_Society_Hostel


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