The Church Periodical Club

The 134 year old Church Periodical Club is a mission organization of the Episcopal Church. The CPC was:

“Founded in 1888 by Mary Ann Fargo, the wife of a member of the Wells Fargo Express firm. On a trip to the Dakotas with her husband she learned of the great need on the frontiers for Bibles and other spiritual literature. Mrs. Fargo and other church women in New York sent their bundles of books and periodicals westward to missionaries and pioneers via stagecoach.” (Episcopal Church Women in NC

THe CPC is:

“…the only organization in the Episcopal Church dedicated solely to providing free literature and related materials, both religious and secular, through grants to people all over the world who need and request them and who have no other source for obtaining them. Prayer books, books for seminarians, educational materials, medical textbooks, agricultural manuals and books for those in local and global mission are some of the publications The Church Periodical Club supplies.” *(CPC)

Traditionally the ECW (Episcopal Church Women) in each parish that participated had a CPC chairwoman who coordinated the parish CPC efforts. The Presiding Bishop declares one Sunday of the year as CPC Sunday. The collection from this Sunday goes to the CPC and each church typically raises funds throughout the year for CPC “grants” and donations.

At St. Mark’s, CPC was a project under the umbrella of The St. Mark’s Women’s. Martha Bachmann (who has been a member of St. Marks for about 70 years!!) chaired the CPC for St. Mark’s for more than 30 years – from the 1950’s until the late 1980’s. Martha recently shared memories with us of her work for CPC.

From the 1956 Women’s Auxiliary Yearbook at St. Mark’s (St. Mark’s Archive)

Throughout the year the group sold stationary, prayer books and other items at luncheons and church events to raise money for CPC. They also participated in the annual designated CPC Sunday.

In addition to financial grants, the St. Mark’s CPC collected and magazines and shipped them overseas to various programs they supported. They collected and purchased whatever types of books a program needed – from children’s books and encyclopedias for a children’s home to medical books for a nursing school.

Triennial CPC gathering in Anaheim (1985) (Martha Bachmann) Martha Bachmann, second from left on left-hand side.

Martha and her husband, Louis, packed and shipped the books because it was the least expensive way to get them overseas – but it took weeks and weeks for them to get there and she always worried until she had word that her shipment had arrived safely. At one point there was a pilot in the congregation who helped out by flying some of the books to their destination.

Martha corresponded with the programs St. Mark’s CPC supported and developed close friendships with many. One time a visitor from Malosa Secondary School in Malawi arrived unexpectedly in California with one day’s notice and stayed with Martha for 10 days!

A highlight for Martha was attending CPC Triennial meetings in Anaheim (1985) and New York City. 100’s of CPC representatives came from all over the world to these meetings to celebrate the work of this ministry, elect new officers, and participate in training sessions. Martha in particular remembered seeing so many different, beautiful and amazing vestments. She also got to visit St. George’s, her original parish in New York City!

Here are a few of the momentoes Martha shared from her many years of CPC work:

“Dear Martha, A letter to say that I have not forgotten warmest wishes of the season to your family…we had quite tough tragic and bitter times the last two years. I lost my dear sister and nephew when the Indian army started fighting in the north. We fled from our home for safety and have returned to our house six months ago. Your beautiful cards were used to console many of the refugee families. So you will know you were remembered and were of service to many here….I would like ot hear about you all. How is your garden? I delight to spend some time in my garden which gives me much joy to meditate on the manifold beauty of God’s creation…If you could lay your hands on the book “Who Are the Anglican’s, I shall be delighted to have it. Yours sincerely, Fr. Donald.” (Martha Bachmann)
Togokaguen Children’s Home, Japan


The Church Periodical Club

The Church Periodical Club NC

Letter from the Venerable Donald Kanagaratnam, Sri Lanka; Martha Bachmann Archive; Palo Alto, CA

St. Mark’s Archive; St. Mark’s Church; Palo Alto, CA

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