Open to both men and women, the Society for Christian Work was founded in October 1873 during the ministry of Dr. Horatio Stebbins.
The big Gold Rush was at an end. Both Northern and Southern mines were closing. The out-of-work and out-of-luck were flocking to San Francisco. The homeless and hungry were everywhere, and San Francisco Unitarians were concerned.
In accordance with the custom of the times, charity took the form of direct aid. An auxiliary to the Church was planned to handle problems of the needy. In the spirit of those days, it was named The Society for Christian Work. In the spirit of the current time, our name was changed in 1999 to The Society for Community Work.
Initially, the Society's purpose was benevolence, but it also was formed to promote fellowship and intellectual stimulation. From the beginning the Society rallied members and friends to meet community disasters. The Unitarian group did outstanding work at the time of the Earthquake and Fire of 1906.
Soon there were donations to a capital funding for this work. During the lifetime of SCW, gifts and bequests have built up a substantial endowment. We also receive the income from the Benjamin Dean Perpetual Fund, administered by Church Board trustees.
We support the Church with an annual pledge and by special gifts to the church as need arises, last year amounting to about twenty-two percent of our income.
At the present time, SCW budgets about forty percent of its income for grants to various community groups which are working to meet urban needs.
When longtime SCW member Georgina Fenwick died in 1978, donations in her memory were used to fund some small scholarships. Subsequently, her sister and individual SCW members began making annual gifts and a permanent Scholarship Fund was formed. In l985 SCW started budgeting for this fund, now about twenty-seven percent of our income.
For many years SCW has been asked to assume the stewardship of a certain amount of the income from the Church's William and Alice Hinckley Fund to help individuals with special needs. This fund is called the Personal Service Fund.
Our purpose has remained "human beneficence and charity." Our work is carried on by committees. Co-workers are always welcome.
Rev. Horatio Stebbins (standing)
and friend Rev. Edward Everett Hale