What is GFS?
The Girls' Friendly Society (GFS)is an international, non-profit organization affiliated with the Episcopal Church for girls and young women founded in 1875 in England. The first branch in the USA was founded in 1877. It is a parish-based program with membership open to girls from the age of 5-21 of any race, religion, or nationality.
GFS provides a Christian-based support system that focuses on the emotional, physical and spiritual growth of its members. The emphasis on the spiritual growth helps leaders and members better understand themselves and their relationship with God, their family, each other, the community, and the world.
What is St. Thomas, West Philadelphia, GFS?
Our group is a local branch of GFS/ PA. It was first established in 1947 by a group of young women led by Ms. Julia M. Porter. Our program follows the traditional agenda of worship, study, service, and play. However, based on the needs of its members we are able to develop many of our own activities and events within the traditional context.
A key component of our program is service to others. We serve our members by providing enriching study programs that focus on aspects of being young ladies in today’s society. We serve others through our community service projects through our branches, the dioceses of PA, and GFS branches around the world; to the Seaman’s Church Institute, UNICEF, and the Episcopal Community Services.
What programs and activities does St. Thomas GFS offer?
The organization is composed of members, leaders, and sponsors. GFS offers programs for Juniors (ages 5-8), Intermediates (9-13) and Seniors (ages 14-21). Leaders (ages 21+) volunteer their time in order to assist members with crafts, study and service projects. Leaders also serve as mentors to the members. Sponsors (ages 22+) are the backbone of the organization providing the necessary support to GFS. Leaders and Sponsors can hold an official position, i.e. President, Treasurer, etc. on the Diocesan, National, or World Councils.
The following are a list of activities and events we participate in throughout the year: World Day of Prayer; GFS Day; GFS Week; Junior Week at Holiday House in Cape May, New Jersey; bringing holiday treats and cheer to those in nursing homes; arts and crafts; Founder’s Weekend Trip; community service; ice skating; movie nights; theater shows; museums; and enrichment workshops.
How can I get more information?
We welcome new members and leaders who are interested in participating, interacting, sharing and contributing to our program, organization, and each others diverse experiences, backgrounds, and interests. Please contact the church for more information.