Faith-Based Organizations

YWCA members with dolls, c. 1950

YWCA members with dolls, c. 1950

One of the many ways students have been able to connect with each other and foster relationships during their time at Simmons is through the formation of faith-based organizations. Like common interests or majors, shared faith has the ability to bring people together, and that has certainly been the case for Simmons students during the University’s first 100 years.

The first faith-based organization at Simmons, the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), was formed in May 1912 and quickly grew to 200 students by the fall semester. The fundamental goal of the YWCA was to encourage cooperation, sociability, and service at Simmons College within a Christian framework.

The Simmons YWCA sought to deepen the spiritual life of students and develop the intellectual, social, physical, and spiritual life of its members through community service, social events, and joint meetings with other Simmons clubs. The Association generally held weekly devotional meetings open for all students to attend and was actively involved in both local and national community service activities, including work with children at Boston settlement houses.

Beginning in 1913, the YWCA sent members to national and international conferences and conventions. The group was active at Simmons until at least the mid-1950s.

Hillel Club officers, c. 1962

Hillel Club members, c. 1962

The Simmons Menorah Society was established in 1917, eleven years after Harvard established the first Menorah Society on a college campus. The Menorah Society's founding mission was to create an organization where members could study the history and ideals of the Jewish faith within the context of modern society.

Over the years, the Menorah Society's mission broadened as it sought to connect with students outside its membership.

In 1944, the Menorah Society changed its name to Hillel, although its fundamental goal of connecting students to the understanding of Jewish values and community outreach remained unchanged. Hillel increased its engagement in community service over the years, hosted socials, lectures, and interfaith meetings, and was involved in regional Hillel Foundation events.

Christian Science Club members reading a magazine, c. 1959

Christian Science Club members

reading a magazine, c. 1959

Simmons’ Christian Science Society also dates back at least to 1917.

The group encouraged friendship among Simmons students of the Christian Science faith and supported cooperation and understanding across the broader Simmons community.

Early events organized by the group included informal teas and field trips.

As the group continued to grow in the 1950s, the Society organized lectures featuring guest speakers from the First Church of Christ, Scientist, Boston.

Other Christianity-centered organizations to emerge in the first 20 years of Simmons were the Newman Club (founded 1919) and the Unitarian Club (founded 1920). The Simmons Newman Club began with the aim of bringing Catholic students together to strengthen their knowledge about their faith. As the club grew, it expanded to include involvement in and planning of several social events. During the 1940s and 1950s, the Newman Club had the most members of any club at Simmons. The highlight of the Newman Club's year was the Mother-and-Daughter Communion Breakfast held on Mother’s Day. 

The Unitarian Club became the Unity Club in 1928 and in 1944 merged with the League of Evangelical Students to form the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF). The IVCF was an inter-denominational club based on Fundamental Biblical Christianity that sought to provide its members with spiritual, intellectual and social development. The Simmons chapter was one of many chapters throughout the United States and held daily prayer meetings, led campus Bible studies, and organized speakers and discussion panels. 

Additional Christian organizations were formed in the latter half of the 20th century, beginning with the Orthodox Club in 1947. Originally affiliated with the New England Federation of Orthodox Clubs, the goal of the Simmons Orthodox Club was to unite students of Orthodox faiths and also to foster relations between all faiths. Throughout the years, the Orthodox Club organized lectures with guest speakers from local Orthodox Churches and attended joint meetings with other clubs. The Orthodox Club also hosted social events such as teas and dances. The Christian Association (founded 1951), the Catholic Student Organization (established by 1988), and the Campus Crusade for Christ (founded 1996) are all variations of Christian organizations that Simmons has seen over the years.

Muslim Student Association, c. 2000

Muslim Student Association, c. 2000

In 1999, the Muslim Student Association was formed.

While serving as a way to bring together all Muslims on campus for religious and holiday events and act as a support group to the Muslim students on campus, the Muslim Student Association also worked to educate people about the Islamic faith.

Some of the organization’s frequent activities included bake sales, Islamic Awareness Week, holiday parties, and round table discussions with panelists and guests.

Faith-Based Organizations