The Church Periodical Club was founded in 1888 by Mary Ann Fargo and a small group of women in the Parish Church of the Holy Communion in New York City. They began by sending bundles of church periodicals, prayer books, and Bibles via the Wells Fargo Stage Coach Line to clergy and laity, missionaries and Indians in the Dakotas, and the "far west". Much of the early growth of the Church Periodical Club was due to the fostering care of the Women’s Auxiliary, now known as the Episcopal Church Women. This close relationship has continued through the years. By 1892, the Church Periodical Club was active in 48 dioceses providing many kinds of printed materials and a national office was established. In 1920, the national church recognized the Church Periodical Club's great missionary work and it became a cooperating agency.
In the 1940’s, the National Books Fund Committee was established to meet the needs of the rapidly growing book needs of the many overseas mission programs. Since 1970, the Church Periodical Club has been a self-supporting affiliated organization of the Episcopal Church with its office located in the Church Center in New York City. As an independent organization affiliated with the Episcopal Church, the Church Periodical Club relies on its volunteers, clergy, and friends to promote its Ministry of the Printed Word.
The commitment to supply theological and educational texts, audio and video tapes, and computer software has continued for over 100 years to promote religious and secular needs throughout the Anglican Communion. From the number of grant applications submitted each year to the Church Periodical Club National Books Fund and to the Miles of Pennies Fund, The Church Periodical Club is answering the needs of a worldwide ministry.
Each year a Sunday is designated as Church Periodical Club Sunday by the Presiding Bishop. Churches are asked to include special prayers for the Church Periodical Club ministry and an offering is taken for the support of the Church Periodical Club National Books Fund.
The Miles of Pennies Fund was established in 1988 on the 100th anniversary of The Church Periodical Club. The Miles of Pennies Fund Committee awarded its first grants in 1991. The maximum grant given by Miles of Pennies is $844.80 which represents one mile of pennies. The grants serve the needs of children from kindergarten through high school wherever there is a need.
The National president wears a gold nugget, a gift from an Alaskan miner who appreciated the magazines he had received from the Church Periodical Club. The nugget hangs from a pin bearing the Church Periodical Club shield, made by Tiffany and Company, New York City.
Members are Christians Proclaiming Christ who support the mission of the Church Periodical Club. Annual dues are $20.00 which includes a subscription to the newsletter. Life Members make a one time contribution of $250.00 to the CPC Endowment Fund. They receive the newsletter and other pertinent communications from the organization. Parish Life Members are parishes who make a one-time contribution of $300.00. They receive the Church Periodical Club Newsletter and news updates from the National CPC office in New York City. The Parish Representative is a key person in the success of CPC’s mission. The parish may initiate its own CPC projects for local and parish needs. In addition, it financially supports diocesan, provincial and national projects. Each parish reports its CPC outreach to the Diocesan CPC Director.
The Diocesan Director is the liaison with the parishes, the provincial and national organizations. The Diocesan Director promotes CPC throughout the diocese, trains and assists parish representatives and initiates CPC projects within the diocese. That person may be appointed or elected in accordance with the bylaws or custom, with the Bishop's approval, and often serves on the diocesan ECW board.
The Provincial Representatives serve as communicators, trainers and resource persons for the diocesan directors within the provinces. They act as liaisons with directors and the national organization, and serve on the National Church Periodical Club Executive Board. The provincial representatives may have a provincial board and initiate projects.
The National Executive Board is composed of the elected officers: president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, chairman of the National Books Fund, chairman of The Miles of Pennies Fund, and the provincial representatives. The National Executive Board meets annually to carry out the policies adopted at the Church Periodical Club Triennial meetings. The board determines all policies, procedures, personnel, and salaries for the national administrative office, and plans the Triennial Meeting of The Church Periodical Club.
The Triennial Meeting of The Church Periodical Club is the enabling body which elects officers, legislates, determines policies and receives reports. One delegate from each diocese (usually the Diocesan Director) and the members of the Executive Board make up the voting body.