115 years ago today, temperance leader Annie Wittenmeyer passed away. She isn’t well known today, but she should be. For on November 18, 1874, women gathered in Cleveland Ohio for the purpose of creating a national organization to outlaw liquor. They elected Annie Wittenmeyer the first president of the National Women’s Christian Temperance Union. This society grew to 1,000 chapters under her leadership. Some 45 years later the United States ratified the eighteenth amendment to its constitution, prohibiting liquor.
Annie was active in home missions, founded orphanages, edited Christian periodicals, wrote hymns, and authored several books. While she was president of the society WCTU women were encouraged to hold prayer meetings, organize and educate children about the dangers of alcohol, circulate temperance pledges, do “home missionary” work among the poor, the alcoholics, and make their own homes more attractive in order to counteract the lure of the saloon.
Throughout the history of Christianity, Christians have always been known to be compassionate to the needy. Often it is easy for us to turn our head away from the oppressed and those needing a second chance. But may we always strive to see the world through the eyes of Jesus.