The SCHC: Past and Present
In 1884, Emily Malbone Morgan, inspired by her invalid friend, Adelyn Howard, drew up rules and aims for daily use by a group of women envisioned as Companions of the Holy Cross. Later that year, seven women under the leadership of Miss Morgan organized themselves as the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross.
Drawn to monastic practice like many Episcopal women of their time, the Companions developed a unique vocation for active lives in the secular world, grounding their work for social justice in daily prayer. Early Companions included several leaders in the settlement house movement. Renowned Christian socialist Vida Dutton Scudder helped to shape the ministries of generations of Companions as Companion-in-Charge of Probationers for thirty-five years.
The Society expanded as Companions founded chapters throughout the United States. Chapter meetings and SCHC conferences created vital opportunities for prayer, discernment and mutual support as Companions aided each other to deepen their faith in Christ and apply it to enduring problems such as labor and race relations. Companions soon developed and continue to share a monthly Intercession Paper (or IP) organized around a daily cycle of prayers on the Aims of the Society. Chapters take turns providing the intercessions for each day of the week. Many of the prayers are written by contemporary Companions on current events.
By 1915, the Companions completed the construction of Adelynrood, a shingled house in Byfield, Massachusetts, with libraries and places to pray nestled throughout its three floors and quiet gardens. Adelynrood is the Society’s center for conferences and retreats, many of them open to the public. Companions design and lead many programs and also draw speakers such as the Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.
Although the Society does not take a corporate stance on issues of peace and justice, individual Companions work to eradicate poverty, to bring justice to immigrants, to abolish the death penalty, and to bring attention to environmental concerns.
The SCHC partnered with Virginia Theological Seminary to sponsor the Anglican Women at Prayer conference in 2014 and follow-up events designed to invite all women of the worldwide Anglican Communion into shared prayer and dialogue.
May we listen silently without judgment or response so that we may learn to feel from another’s place. Let us all be builders of peace. (SCHC Manual)
Adelynrood Retreat & Conference Center
46 Elm Street
Byfield, MA 01922-2812
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