Did you know Mother’s Day was founded by two Methodists in a Methodist Church? In 1908 Anna Jarvis organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in West Virginia. (By the way, the name “Methodist Episcopal,” was our denominational name before 1968 when we adopted the title “United Methodist”). But Mother’s Day roots go back even further beyond the first official day. It was Anna’s mother, Anne Reeves Jarvis, from whom it really originated. In the 1860s, Anne recognized the importance of women and the work of women. Anne Reeves Jarvis organized mother’s clubs in the 1860s to serve suffering mothers and children. These women gathered to respond to the needs they observed. Anne was in a coal mining community and recognized the effects of the deep economic inequality within her community. Thus, these women gathered to alleviate and speak on behalf of the less fortunate. They were women of justice and peace. Moreover, she ministered to mothers by teaching them about sanitation and nutrition. When the Civil War ended, she began “Friendship Clubs” in which Northern and Southern soldiers were invited to meet together to bring about reconciliation. She was convinced mothers had to work for peace.
Her daughter, Anna picked up the mantle of Mother’s Day and pushed to have it recognized as a national holiday. Anna never was a mother, but felt it was important to recognize the vital work of women in the country. Anna’s vision for Mother’s Day was a time which sons and daughters would sit down and write a letter to their mother (not just send a card), to honor them by being with them, and remember the important role women play in bringing peace and justice.
Ironically, Anna would most likely balk at the commercial driven holiday it is today. In fact, she wrote and said many things against the commercialization of the day in her time. It was not a day for business to make money, but a day to lift up mothers and women and the important role and work they play. Remember this Sundaythe roots of Mother’s Day are found in justice and peace. May we all take up the mantle of Anna Reeves Jarvis, recognizing the needs around us and bring hope and peace.
P.S. Write a letter to your mother!