about / history

Welcome to the Girls’ Friendly Society

The Girls’ Friendly Society of the United States of America is…
An international, not-for-profit organization affiliated with the Episcopal Church for girls and young women. The program is parish based and open to girls of any race, religion, or nationality between the ages of
5 and 21.

On providing a support system aimed at developing the whole person through a program of worship, service to others, study, and recreation, designed to empower girls and to help them grow mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

That girls will actively participate in GFS activities including worship and service.That girls will learn the GFS prayer and the GFS motto, and understand and agree to live by the promises they made at their Admissions Service. That girls will live by the GFS motto of “bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)

As a member of the GFS, I promise…
To share God’s love for all people,
To worship and serve faithfully,
To make my words true, and my actions right,
To grow strong in mind, body, and spirit,
To make the world a better place to live.

A Brief History

The GFS was founded in 1875 in England by Mary Elizabeth Townsend. It was the first organization for women in the Church of England. Its purpose was to provide a place for girls who were not married and who had been sent to the city by their families to work in textile mills, to experience friendship and recreation in a fellowship of Christian love and service. As this new organization was a place for finding comfort and friendship, the name Girl’s Friendly Society was decided upon.

In 1877, Elizabeth Mason, the rector’s daughter from St. Anne’s Church in Lowell, Mass., saw girls leaving their homes to find jobs. In 1877 she organized the first GFS branch in the United States. In the late 1800’s, GFS members assisted young women entering this country by providing housing and helping them find jobs. In 1887, it played a role in establishing the Traveler’s Aid Society. During the war years, members could be found sheltering and aiding refugees and raising funds to help the Red Cross purchase ambulances. Its missionary work has spread across the country and around the world.

Today, we are a National Volunteer Organization in the Episcopal Church for young women from the ages of 5 to 21. Diocesan and local branches develop and create their own programs with the commitment to serve the needs of young women in this changing world. Our purpose remains the same, to provide an organization dedicated to helping young women grow within a fellowship of love and mutual respect.