Fun and Friendship at St. Mark’s Anglican Church

A summer garden party with a flower arranging demonstration
Cheryl Faseruk

If you hear laughter coming from St. Mark’s Church Hall on Logy Bay Road, there is a good chance the Women’s Friendship Group is meeting. Initially formed in January 2019 as a way for women with common interests in quilting and sewing to come together, it has grown into a lively, productive, supportive group with a wide variety of activities and projects. Membership has grown from the first meeting of fourteen women to over 65 on the current email list. Typically, 20 to 30 women meet in person weekly, with ages ranging from late 50s to early 90s.

The main purpose of the Women’s Friendship Group is, of course, friendship. There is no requirement to knit or sew to attend. Members are encouraged to bring their knitting, embroidery or sewing to work on if they choose, but many come to sit, chat, and enjoy each other’s company. Some play cards or board games. Others bring projects which require advice or help to finish. The knitting, quilting, and sewing expertise within the group is remarkable!  There is always someone willing to show you how to turn the heel of a sock or sew the binding on a quilt. A favourite activity is “Show and Tell,” when members share unusual or interesting crafts or handiwork they are working on or have received as a gift. As well guest speakers have been invited to present to the group on topics as varied as flower arranging and protecting yourself from phone and online scams.

Outreach is hugely important. Many of the members are avid knitters and sewers, and the Women’s Friendship Group has given a focus and a purpose to their hobbies. Although there is never any obligation to participate, the group has made a real difference to the community with some ongoing projects. Our knitters provide children’s hats and mittens to the students at East Point Elementary School each winter, coordinated through the school guidance counsellor. They also provide cozy prayer shawls to the Cancer Clinic, finger puppets to the Janeway Child Health Centre Blood Collection Lab, and socks to the Gathering Place. Our sewers have crafted sweet flannelette hearts for the Janeway NICU to be used in a Mom & Baby Scent Program with premature babies, and are also sewing new incubator covers. Arm support pillows were sewn in a group assembly line for breast cancer patients. Some of the quilters in the group are working on children’s comfort quilts to be used by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary during traumatic situations. When a Baby Clothes Lending Library started in St. John’s, the coordinators asked the Women’s Friendship Group to make 60 drawstring bags to store the donated baby clothing. Members who are not able to attend meetings regularly in person are still able to feel a connection to the Friendship Group and a sense of contribution by completing some of these projects at home.

The Women’s Friendship Group also provides the Single Parent Association of Newfoundland & Labrador (SPAN) with “Birthday Cake Kits”. These packages contain everything a parent needs to make a birthday cake for their child—cake mix, a can of soda, frosting, candles, balloons, and birthday napkins. The directions for making a cake with a can of soda and a cake mix (no oil or eggs required!) are included. This beautiful, colourful project is coordinated through the SPAN food bank staff who have told us that parents often cry when they are given everything they need to provide a cake for their child’s birthday!

The Women’s Friendship Group acts as a ready resource and support for our rector, The Venerable Amanda Taylor. She adds, “Whenever I hear of a family in need, or an organization looking for support, I know that all I have to do is speak to the ladies!  Without hesitation, if they can do it at all, it is done.
Not only are they a support to the community, they are also a support to one another. The friendships that have been forged and the bonds that have been formed are truly remarkable. No matter what I may be doing in the office, if I am in the building on Wednesday afternoons, the laughter draws me to the hall!”

From September until June, the group meets in St. Mark’s Church Hall every Wednesday afternoon. If the church hall is not available, and through the summertime, outings are planned—garden parties, picnics, coffee on the deck of the Pantry Café, or afternoon tea at the Newfoundland Chocolate Company. The group has gone on tours of Government House and the Botanical Gardens, visited the Quidi Vidi Village Artisan Studios, and had lunch at the Legion. We also go to the movies together when something appealing is playing. Friends, spouses, and neighbours are always welcome to come along on any outing.

The weekly meetings are very informal, and the unstructured format seems to be one of the attractive features of the group and a strong reason for its success. Women may drop in for a few minutes or leave early if they have other commitments that day. There is no Executive, no dues, no minutes are taken and there are no scheduled coffee duties. If you want a cup of tea, you make your own!  Two members currently volunteer to arrange guest speakers, send emails, or book outings as needed. Any member can suggest a project, but there is never any obligation to participate.

The weekly format also means that people stay closely connected, and friendships are given a chance to build. As opposed to monthly meetings, little time is missed if illness or poor weather prevents attendance. Those who are unable to attend in person stay in touch, and are updated regarding ongoing projects, through regular emails. This was especially important through the pandemic, when emails, often with attached pictures of members’ projects, helped keep people connected and cheered them up during a lonely time. Even members who have moved out of the province enjoy staying in touch with the group through the email connection. The fun and friendship of the St. Mark’s Women’s Friendship Group has been an unqualified success.

Keep on reading

Skip to content