Eight women. The number was small, but the need was great. The first MOPS meeting took place in February 1973 in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. For two hours, while their children received care, these mothers talked, laughed, ate, passed a basket for childcare expenses, had a craft demonstration and ended with a short devotional. In this humble beginning, the seeds of the MOPS concept and format were planted. Through friendship, creative outlets, and instruction, the women began to understand that “mothering matters.” Today, the same needs for significance are met in much the same way in MOPS groups across the United States and around the world.
From the beginning, women in MOPS were not content to be spectators. Through MOPS, they found an opportunity to discover and cultivate their leadership gifts. As women moved around the country, they took the concept of MOPS with them, and new groups formed.
Growth began as word spread in churches, conventions, and magazine articles that explained this unique new program. Inquiries and requests for information became more frequent, and a handbook was printed. Office space moved from a desk in a family room to a rented office.
In 1981, MOPS established a Board of Directors and incorporated first as MOPS Outreach, and later as MOPS, Inc. As interest mushroomed, leadership training began. One hundred fifty women from five states gathered in 1982 for the first all-day MOPS leadership seminar.
In 1988, MOPS expanded beyond US borders and was renamed MOPS International, Inc. to reflect the international impact of the ministry. As MOPS grew, so did the need for a chartering process, additional resource materials, and a paid staff. The Board hired Elisa Morgan as the first president of the organization in 1989.
MOPS reached out to moms through the “MOMSense” newsletter beginning in 1993. The newsletter joined the existing “MOMSense” radio program to help MOPS nurture every mother of preschoolers, whether or not she attended a MOPS group.
In 1995, MOPS formed a partnership with Zondervan Publishing House, further expanding its outreach to mothers through books. Also that year, MOPS established Teen MOPS groups for teenage mothers. MOPS became even more available to moms when it went online in 1997, and in 2000 when it created the MOPS to Mom Connection (now MOPS International Membership) to bring additional resources directly to a mom’s home. In 2004, MOPS International entered into an publishing relationship with Revell of Baker Publishing Group.
MOPS has come a long way over the years, and continues to adapt to meet the various needs of moms today.
You can learn more about MOPS International at http://www.mops.org.