Members who have attended the Spring and Fall luncheons have said a short thanks known as The Collect before partaking the meal.
What might be the reason and the history of this ritual?
The Collect has its roots in the very beginning of the National Federation of Women’s Clubs in the late 1800s when the idea of women’s rights or gender equality was just beginning. The formation of the umbrella organization was an important step forward during a time when women were excluded from many activities outside of the home. As a member of the National Federation of Women's Club from 1956 to1993, the Lake Barcroft Woman’s Club was part of this forward-thinking culture.
The Collect was written in 1904 as a prayer for the day by Mary Stewart, a Colorado high school principal who was only 28 at the time. She published it under the title of A Collect for Club Women because she "... felt that women working together with wide interests for large ends was a new thing under the sun and that, perhaps they had need for a special petition and meditation of their own."
The National Federation of Women's Clubs was the first group to use her prayer and published it in their yearbook. Subsequently, many Federation clubs adopted The Collect as their creed. The history of how the Woman’s Club adopted this prayer is unclear, but it can be surmised that its use stems from the club's membership in the National Federation of Women's Clubs.
There are a few different versions of this prayer. The excerpt of The Collect that the Lake Barcroft Woman’s Club has used follows:
Keep us, oh God, from pettiness;
Let us be large in thought, in word, in deed,
May we put away all pretense
And meet each other face to face.
Let us take time for all things.
Make us grow kind, serene, and gentle,
Straightforward and unafraid.
And may we strive to touch and to know
The great common human heart of us all.
And, oh Lord God, let us forget not:
To be kind!