Women's Division
In the early 70's Rev. James Cleveland appointed Mrs. Elma Hendrix Parham, a true servant of God, of Detroit, Michigan as the first Chairman of the Women's Division, GMWA. Each year the Women's Division raised funds for scholarships for students aspiring to become great musicians. Mrs. Hendrix Parham worked diligently and faithfully with the women (which was a small group at that time). She was a very fiery woman and that excitement spread like wildfire causing the women to praise God and to give Him the glory and honor due Him. Mrs. Hendrix Parham encouraged the women to strive for excellence until her death.

In 1979 Rev. James Cleveland appointed another strong woman of God, Mrs. Mary K. Elsaw of Birmingham, Alabama as leader of the Women's Division. She was short in stature, but a great leader and disciplinarian. Mrs. Elsaw stepped to the mark to carry the torch of excellence that Mrs. Hendrix Parham had begun.

During Mrs. Elsaw's administration, the Women's Division became the second largest division in the workshop. In addition to the Ms. GMWA contest and other fundraisers that made it possible for many students to receive scholarships to the universities of their choices, the Women's Division recorded its first project, "Order My Steps" written by Glenn Burleigh. During this recording that was produced by Sanchez Harvey and Al "the Bishop" Hobbs. The world renown Pamela Davis was pianist and Sherri Garrison was directress. The recording was intended to be a fundraiser; however, God blessed the project and it is still ministering to saints even to this present time. Because of Mrs. Elsaw's vision, the Women's Division is known as the "Women of Worship''. This group of women is known as one of the most respected groups of worshippers in this nation and abroad. Rose Bener, Elsie Branch, Lee Ida Campbell and Betty Bates served on the executive committee with Mrs. Elsaw. One of her final directives was to appoint Min. Prince E. Yelder as Minister of Music for the Women's Division.

Mrs. Elsaw, just as Mrs. Hendrix Parham, has left a legacy of excellence for the Women's Division to carry on. She is now resting in the safety of our Lord.

Currently, Mrs. Eloise Ford Gaffney is Chairlady of the Women's Division and a member of the GMWA Board of Directors. She is a founding member of the Birmingham Community Mass Choir (Birmingham Chapter GMWA) which was organized in 1968 by Mrs. Mary K. Elsaw. Mrs. Gaffney served as assistant to Mrs. Elsaw for 35 years, and was Mrs. Elsaw’s Administrative Assistant for the Woman of Worship, GMWA. During this time frame she was instrumental in planning activities, keeping records, scheduling, teaching and directing the choir. For many years she served as section leader on many of the recordings by the Women of Worship (Order My Steps, When I Get Home, Coronation, I Got My Joy Back and He Lives just to name a few).

The current (some past) Board of Directors for the Women's Division are Ella Robinson, Elizabeth Square, Pearl Juanita Suggs (deceased) Bessie Massie (deceased), Phyllis Benson (deceased), Pearlie Brantley, and Helen Brown. In addition to worshipping God in spirit and in song, the new administration of the Women's Division continues to focus on helping youth by funding annual scholarships for youth interested in furthering their studies in music. Mrs. Andrea Wimbush serves as our Scholarship Coordinator.

Another area of the Women's Division is to impact women's health. The Division focuses on the temple that embodies God's spirit and enables each woman to lift up her voice and sing. The group wants to encourage women to take care of themselves. Women need to be reminded we are the temples of the Holy Ghost!

As part of the healthy lifestyle initiative, the Women's Division compiled a Women of Worship Cookbook. The cookbook features favorite healthy recipes from the hundreds of women who make up the division.

At the convention in Milwaukee in 2005 the division revisited one of the traditions of Black women and church by sponsoring their first Hatters' Tea. Each woman is encouraged to show up wearing one of their finest crowns or hats. The Tea features a National Recording Artist and a competition between the women that ends in the crowning of Miss GMWA.

One of the highlights of the convention is the recording of the Women of Worship. The group rehearses songs sent in by songwriters from throughout the country and record those songs.

Throughout the women's time together, we receive information to inspire, inform, and ignite. The workshops are designed to educate choir members so that we may return to our home churches with a better understanding of music. The Women's Division wants its attendees to return home knowing that the division is composed of strong sisters who love the Lord, love singing good gospel music, and who want to be around so that God can order our steps.

2019 Scholarship Winners

1st Place

JaDavia G. Erkins
Montgomery Chapter

Auburn University
 
2nd Place
Taylor Atkins-Lewis
Rochester, NY Chapter

Florida A&M University