Collect For Club Women

I was a guest at a local women’s civic club luncheon, and quite inadvertently I became a member. Not so odd, that, since I find myself going along with most of what people suggest — it’s how I’ve managed to get so involved in the community so quickly.

At the beginning of the meeting, they recited a non-denominational prayer, creed, or collect (as the author, Mary Stewart, named it). Although I was taken with the sentiment of the collect, I hesitated to print it here, not wanting to infringe on anyone’s copyright, so I researched the piece.

It turns out this “Collect for Club Women” was written by Mary Stewart, a principal of Longmont High School in Colorado, in 1904 because she “felt that women working together with wide interests for large ends had a need for special petition and meditation of their own.” This must be true for the Collect has found its way about the world, especially wherever English speaking women get together, such as the United States, Canada, and Britain. It was even read into the Congressional Record in 1949.

The collect below is as important today as it was 115 years ago, not just for women, and not just for those who believe in God, but for anyone who strives to spread light in a troubled world.

Keep us, O God, from pettiness; let us be large in thought, in word, in deed. 

Let us be done with fault-finding and leave off self-seeking. 

May we put away all pretense and meet each other face to face — without self-pity and without prejudice. 

May we never be hasty in judgment and always generous. 

Let us take time for all things; make us to grow calm, serene, gentle. 

Teach us to put into action our better impulses, straightforward and unafraid. 

Grant that we may realize it is the little things that create differences, that in the big things of life we are at one. 

And may we strive to touch and to know the great, common human heart of us all, and O Lord God, let us forget not to be kind. 

–Mary Stewart

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.