After our visit to the Anna Jarvis House, my mom and I moved on to the nearby International Mother’s Day Shrine. This Grafton, WV church was the site of the very first Mother’s Day observance on May 10, 1908.
The “Mother Church of Mother’s Day” is one of 16 National Historic Landmarks within West Virginia.
When Mother’s Day founder Anna Jarvis was less than a year old, her family moved from her birthplace into Grafton. She was influenced by her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, to devote most of her adult life to establishing Mother’s Day as a holiday. She fought her whole life to defend it against commercialization. Obviously, that battle was lost.
Anna recalled that when she was 12, her mom, in a Sunday School class, called for someone, sometime, someplace to establish a day honoring mothers. When her mom died in 1905, daughter Anna at the gravesite pledged to fulfill her mother’s wish.
She accomplished this goal when President Woodrow Wilson on May 9, 1914, signed a Joint Congressional Resolution officially recognizing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
The annual observance is a traditional service with similarities to the first celebration in 1908 which was a church service at what was then Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church. Mrs. Jarvis taught Sunday School at the church for nearly 25 years.
The nave is located up the steps once you walk in. The room opens up to reveal many colorful stained glass windows and a large pipe organ behind the altar.
The Shrine is currently attempting to raise funds to restore the twenty-five stained glass windows. They look pretty good to me, but what do I know? They’re attempting to raise $500,000 for this work.
The annual observance of Mother’s Day is the premier event for the shrine. Today they are highlighting a local student who won an award for her research project on Anna Jarvis and Mother’s Day.
They are also honoring 2019’s “Mother of the Year” Judge Irene Keeley. This, of course, was a total outrage because my mother is mother of the year this and every year. But I kept my cool and didn’t protest.
They also had a keynote speaker, Dr. Noelle Hunter, who has had a pretty accomplished career. However, she was there to talk about her non-profit the iStand Parent Network which empowers parents to recover their children from International Parental Child Abduction and advocates for public policy reform that returns children home.
In 2014, Dr. Hunter recovered her daughter from a nearly three-year abduction to Mali, West Africa, with support and resources from Congress, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Justice and a strong network of supporters.
Visit the International Mother’s Day Shrine
The International Mother’s Day Shrine is a 146-year-old landmark. On December 18, 1970, the shrine earned National Historic Place status. In 1992, it became a National Historic Landmark.