Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross
The Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross (SCHC) is composed of approximately eight hundred women, lay and ordained members of the Anglican Communion, called to live individual lives under a rule of intercessory prayer, thanksgiving, and simplicity of life. Companions pray and work with intentional concern for social justice, the unity of all God’s people, and God’s mission in the world, and practice peace and reconciliation, acknowledging responsibility for the environment and for economic justice in the world. The Society is bound together through thirty-six chapters in the United States, Canada and India. Local chapters provide community life and support for Companions’ vocations of prayer and service.
In 1884, Emily Morgan (1862-1937), inspired by her friend Adelyn Howard (?-1898), envisioned a group of women united in prayer and companionship. Adelyn was a childhood playmate of Emily Morgan but she was an invalid from a young age and wished for a spiritual companionship that would support those in need and those who minister to them. Later that year, the original group of seven women, under Emily Morgan’s leadership and the advice of Harriet Hastings, organized themselves as the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross. This small prayer group soon attracted others, and in the next ten years, the membership grew to a hundred women. From the beginning, Companions were involved in the urban settlement house movement and in providing respite for working women.
Chapters of the SCHC formed in Hartford, Boston, Philadelphia and New York City. In 1915, Companions designed and supervised the building of a large, shingled, summer retreat house in Byfield, Massachusetts; the house was named Adelynrood -- Adelyn Howard’s name combined with the word rood, meaning cross. In June 2000, a new, year-round wing, St. Clare, opened to enable Companions to extend their ministry at Adelynrood beyond the summer season.
Companions who were influential in shaping the SCHC include Harriet Hastings (~1864-1915) and Vida Scudder (1861-1954).
Each summer at Adelynrood, the Society offers men and women silent retreats, quiet days, and study programs on spiritual, religious, educational, and social justice topics. Adelynrood also has private rooms available for individuals and small groups seeking a peaceful respite from daily responsibilities. The Society provides outreach programs to a range of organizations as part of its commitment to social justice. Homeless people, health caregivers, youth ministries, and families of deployed members of the military are among the groups served by this ministry. In addition, religious and educational groups may rent conference space for retreats or workshops year-round. Adelynrood is largely volunteer-run and Companions support the Society’s corporate ministry as celebrants, sacristans, hostesses, librarians, gardeners, musicians, and program coordinators.
Organization and leadership
An elected Companion-in-Charge and elected or appointed officers and committees oversee the operations, programs and outreach of the Society and Adelynrood with support from a small professional staff.
Both Emily Morgan and Vida Scudder are honored in The Episcopal Church Calendar:
- February 26: Emily Malbone Morgan, Prophetic Witness
- October 10: Vida Dutton Scudder, Educator and Witness for Peace