Julia Chester Emery
Upholder of Missions
9 January 1922
Julia Chester Emery was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, in 1852. In 1876 she succeeded her sister, Mary, as Secretary of the Woman’s Auxiliary of the Board of Missions which had been established by the General Convention in 1871.
During the forty years she served as Secretary, Julia helped the Church to recognize its call to proclaim the Gospel both at home and overseas. Her faith, her courage, her spirit of adventure and her ability to inspire others combined to make her a leader respected and valued by the whole Church.
She visited every diocese and missionary district within the United States, encouraging and expanding the work of the Woman’s Auxiliary; and in 1908 she served as a delegate to the Pan-Anglican Congress in London. From there she traveled around the world, visiting missions in remote areas of China, in Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Hawaii, and then all the dioceses on the Pacific Coast before returning to New York. In spite of the fact that travel was not easy, she wrote that she went forth “with hope for enlargement of vision, opening up new occasions for service, acceptance of new tasks.”
Through her leadership a network of branches of the Woman’s Auxiliary was established which shared a vision of and a commitment to the Church’s mission. An emphasis on educational programs, a growing recognition of social issues, development of leadership among women, and the creation of the United Thank Offering are a further part of the legacy Julia left to the Church when she retired in 1916.
In 1921, the year before she died, the following appeared in the Spirit of Missions: “In all these enterprises of the Church no single agency has done so much in the last half-century to further the Church’s Mission as the Woman’s Auxiliary.” Much of that accomplishment was due to the creative spirit of its Secretary of forty of those fifty years, Julia Chester Emery.