From the earliest date this church recognized the duty of contributing for the spread of the gospel. The Monthly Concert was established by vote of the church in 1819 under Elder Lamb. By later action the church voted itself a missionary body and solicitors for the different benevolences were often appointed by vote. The first collections of the church were for Foreign Missions, and then for the State Convention. Contributions were designated to Hamilton Seminary and assistance was given to several young men who were preparing for the ministry, with the work of the women who made clothing, knit stockings and mittens, prepared bedding and by skill and thoughtfulness provided numberless necessities and comforts for the servants called of God. In 1838 a fund was raised for the poor of the church for which something was systematically done as long as need existed.
For several years, some good brethren believed it to be their duty to show their “disfellowshiprdquo; of slavery by contributing mainly to the Free Mission society. On the other hand, a strong majority saw insufficient reason for separating themselves from the denominational benevolent societies and protested against the spirit that called them pro-slavery; for pro-slavery the church was not nor ever has been. The amount of earlier contributions is not on record, but it is believed they have been liberal.
The church was not then separated into departments under one head, but the body in its entirety had oversight and charge of all its workings. There is no account of any society of women in the church under organization or name until 1842. Sister S. A. Lincoln, who was ever interested in charitable work and alert to the wants of the needy and suffering, enlisted some of the women of the church to united action and was instrumental in forming a Benevolent Society. Its work was more outside the church, yet with an object to draw into the church and Sunday school. The record contains the following: “February 3, 1842, cash, $9.55, 13 pair socks and 2 pair child’s stockingsrdquo; again, “cash $5.49 and a string of gold beads.rdquo; It gave assistance to young men in the Rochester Theological Seminary and had an ear open to hear and a hand ready to give assistance in any place outside as well as their home field.
The Woman’s Baptist Foreign Missionary Society had its origin in 1871 as an urgent request came from missionaries of the American Baptist Missionary Union for single women as teachers, and as the Union did not feel itself at liberty to undertake such educational work, some women in Newton Centre, Mass., led by Mrs. Alvah Hovey and Mrs. Gardner Colby, called together women of Boston and vicinity who formed the Woman’s Baptist Foreign Missionary Society. The society was approved by the Missionary Union and became auxiliary to it. Circular letters were sent out to the large body of Baptists and at the annual meeting of the Monroe Association held in Greece in October 1871, a letter from Mrs. Alvah Hovey, advocating the forming of circles in all the churches of the association was read and received hearty endorsement.
At the Ladies’ Aid Society in November, the Penfield Women’s. Baptist Foreign Mission Society Circle was organized under the direction of the pastor, Rev. F.A. Marsh, with the following officers: Miss Libbie Northrup, president, Miss Adeline Dyer, secretary, Miss Sarah Rundle, treasurer. No systematic work was done for the next five years although collections were taken each year with the money going into the general church fund for Foreign Missions and the Women’s Circle lost the credit it should have had and the organization almost ceased to have a name. In 1877, Pastor Freeman’s wife became an inspiration to the work. A meeting was called and the circle re-organized. The officers were Mrs. O.C. Ross, president, Mrs. G. W. Flower, secretary, and Miss Sarah Rundle, treasurer. The first few years were formative and educational. Subscribers to the Helping Hand numbered twenty-nine. In 1878 the Children’s band was organized and greater interest and activity was manifest in the work. For three years (1877, ’78, and ’79,) the collections averaged $40 per year.
In 1877 the Woman’s Baptist Home Mission Society was formed, and three years later, in 1880, the circle decided to unite the interests of Home and Foreign Missions and became a union circle, contributing to both societies. Records of the amount of money raised are not available.
Mrs. O. C. Ross was president of the circle for several years, until she moved to Spokane, Washington. Mrs. W. G. Eldredge followed her and was in office two years; then Mrs. M. V. Willson, three years. Mrs. S. S. Leake served from 1889 to 1892, Mrs. G. W. Clark two years and in April, 1894 Mrs. L. F. Worden was elected and continued as President through 1904, having been re-elected each succeeding year.