Church Women United in Illinois (CWUI) is the state chapter of the national organization, Church Women United (CWU). CWU is an ecumenical movement of interdenominational Christian women from diverse racial, ethnic, age, and economic backgrounds.
The fundamental purpose of CWU is to bring Christian women together, united in their faith, to work towards the betterment of the community and the development of women’s full potential in society. CWUI originated in 1931 as the Illinois Council of Federated Church Women. The non-profit organization changed its name to the Illinois Council of Church Women in 1936, and then to the United Council of Church Women in 1941. In 1956, it was renamed United Church Women, and officially became Church Women United in Illinois in 1967 and affiliated with CWU.
CWUI is divided into local units throughout the state. Each local unit has its own officers and committees, which join together annually at the State Assembly along with the organization’s state officers and board members. CWUI members take part in ecumenical assemblies, area institutes and regional events for the Midwest. In conjunction with CWU, CWUI also participates in various annual activities, such as World Day of Prayer, May Fellowship Day, World Community Day, and Fellowship of the Least Coin.
The focus of CWUI and the local units reflects the issues that CWU takes up on a national scale. For instance, CWU and state chapters have focused on women in poverty, race relations, and health care reform. CWU and CWUI support other organizations, such as the National Farm Worker Ministry, the United Nations, and Women in Community Service. CWU publishes “The Churchwoman,” and CWUI publishes its own quarterly state newsletter, “The Illinois Interpreter.” In 1983 CWUI started a mission to raise money to build a chapel at Dwight Correctional Center, the only women’s prison in Illinois without a chapel. After a decade of fundraising, the chapel was completed in 1993. In cooperation with the Illinois Conference of Churches, CWUI has been involved with issues regarding domestic violence, aging, and the mentally handicapped. Through its involvement on the local level, CWUI continues to unite Christian women who work towards the betterment of Illinois communities.
State Projects Coordinator - Jewell Perkins State Area Chairperson – Ethel Bassett Northeast Area Coordinator – Belvia Strickland Northwest Area Coordinator – Mattie Seward West Area Coordinator – Mazell Taylor South Area Coordinator – Joyce Elliott East Area Coordinator – Opportunity Nominating Committee Chairperson – Opportunity South Area Committee Member – Mary Ann Burtin Northeast Area Committee member – Rita L. Smith Northwest Area Committee member – Opportunity East Area Committee Member – Opportunity West Area Committee Member - Patti Polk Public Policy - Doris Guest
Communications Chairperson/Administrator – Patti Polk
Website Rep. - Mary Haywood-Benson Interpreter Editor – Alice Staley Historian – Barbara Gleghorn Investment Committee Chairperson - Patti Polk