The Moore College Women’s Auxiliary was initially formed for the purpose of raising funds to supply the college students with linen and towels. Their main events for many years were “At Homes” – the old-fashioned name for an informal gathering where a speaker was invited to talk on a topic of general interest and tea would be served. Tea was taken very seriously – the baked goods brought by each lady were listed in the minutes.
In the minute books of the Auxiliary, the impact of world events on the college may be discerned. On the 28th June 1943, Archdeacon Begbie refers to the college (somewhat grandly) as ‘the bulwark of the nation’. Rev H.N. Powys concurred: “The present need of the college is to train and equip officers in the army of Christ against the evil in the world… Canon Hammond reminded us that our main appeal was not just for a building but a place where men & women might be ‘built up’ in the things of our Lord Jesus Christ’
The following year, the Auxiliary gathering was addressed by Marcus Loane, who had just returned from New Guinea: “Australia owes a duty to the natives of New Guinea who have suffered more that anyone knows the conditions of war on their own land… Australia must face the great challenge of how she would redeem the obligation that every nation should have every opportunity to hear the gospel”
Archbishop Mowll saw the Auxiliary as a means of promoting the college among the churches of the Diocese. At a meeting in April 1945, he “spoke of the value of inviting relatives of students to college functions and of having drawing room meetings held in various suburbs as a way of getting church people to know about the college.” When the Cash Chapel was opened in 1950, the Auxiliary members assisted in the preparations by sending out approximately 3000 invitations.
The Auxiliary also held Women’s Conventions, a short conference for women with a topic relating to the Christian life. Mrs Ailsa Knox was involved in planning the 1969 conference, and wanted the conference to address contemporary issues. She said that she was “coming up against the attitude in young Christians that it was quite in order for them to take in all the activities of young people generally, and this attitude was being strengthened by some Christian groups promoting visits to undesirable plays and other doubtful activities.”
Most of the members of the Women’s Auxiliary were the wives of faculty members – they frequently interacted with their parallel group Wives and Fiancées Fellowship. This group was designed to support the students’ wives and fiancées, in the days when all of the students were male and almost all were intended for ordination. In 1975, two members of the Auxiliary addressed the Wives and Fiancées on “the biblical and practical aspects of the role of the clergy wife.”
They also compiled an audio-visual presentation, with a slideshow of photos of college life with a scripted description. This was titled “What a revelation!” and was presented at many church services in order to raise funds and awareness of the college’s mission.
Women’s Auxiliaries flourished in the middle of the 20th century, mostly as wartime adjuncts to the armed services. By the 1980s the name was starting to be considered very outmoded. Over the years, the Auxiliary provided not only soft furnishings and manchester but also enriched the communal life of the college, particularly for the wives of students and faculty. It continues under the name “Prayer Support Group” and regularly upholds the work of the college in prayer.