Agnes Loyall of ACWC writes to ACW
May of 1978 was a significant month for the Asian Church Women’s Conference (ACWC). The ACWC Executive Committee had been invited by Australian Church Women (ACW) to hold their annual meeting in Australia. The invitation was accepted and for the first time, but not the last, the annual meeting was held in Australia. This invitation was facilitated by Fran Bailey, the elected Vice-President of ACWC for 1975–1978. Previously, Fran was an Australian delegate to the 1970 ACWC Assembly and an elected member of the Planning Committee for 1971–1974.
The ACWC members who attended were:
Mrs Agnes Loyall, President, from India
Mrs Frances Bailey, Vice-President, from Australia
Miss Gloria Santos, Honorary Secretary, from the Philippines
Mrs Yoshiko Isshiki, Honorary Treasurer, from Japan
Mrs Julie Ang Kim Kiat from Singapore
Mrs Grace Kee Tsai from Taiwan
Mrs Chan Wong Po-Yiu from Hong Kong
Mrs Shanti Solomon, Executive Secretary, from India
The members travelled first to Adelaide where they held their annual meeting from 13–17 May, along with speaking opportunities from the members. From 20–22 May, the visitors were in Sydney to meet with the Working Committee of ACW over that weekend.
Arrangements were also made for visits by one or more of the visitors to Perth, Melbourne, Hobart, Canberra, Brisbane, Darwin and Alice Springs. [At this stage, I have only located snippets about their visits to some of these cities.]
After their visit to Australia concluded, Agnes Loyall, the ACWC President, sent a letter of gratitude on behalf of the ACWC members to Australian Church Women. The letter that Agnes wrote was printed in the June 1978 issue of Women at Work, the newsletter of ACW. Here is the transcript of that letter:
‘We have requested that this letter be printed in your paper because there is no way that I can on my behalf and on the behalf of the A.C.W.C. Executive Committee, thank each one of you individually, for what I would term as one continuous chain of friendship.
‘Our thanks go to Mrs. Frances Bailey, A.C.W.C. Vice President, for taking the first step of inviting the A.C.W.C. Executive Committee on behalf of the A.C.W. Executive. Plans began to materialise into travel documents needed to make the trip a reality for each one of us. Soon it was time to board the planes at various points. Before we could catch up with ourselves we were actually on Australian soil. Whether it was 1.00 a.m. in the dead of night or l p.m. in the afternoon, whether it meant one trip or several trips to the airport, hostesses and hosts met the planes. We had begun to experience the warmth and friendliness of the Australian men and women. Husbands hoisted heavy suitcases; where necessary, acted as chauffeurs. Wherever we went, host families went out of their way to make us feel welcome and at home. Long before we went to bed, electric blankets were turned on, so we would find warm beds. Such thoughtful acts have left indelible impressions of a friendly people in our hearts and minds, and we will live and relive these happy moments, in our memory.
‘Australian Church Women Units came together to meet us, to share with us their concerns, and to hear from us our plans for Asian Church Women's Conference, of which Australian Church Women are a very vital part. If food can be an indication of the extent of one's welcome, we certainly had it shown to us through loaded tables.
‘It was such an enriching experience to meet you, talk with you, exchange views with you, ask you questions and answer your questions. All through this, I found A.C.W. to be a vital organisation, where things were happening.
‘Each one of us has returned to her country richly blessed for having been to Australia and having had the pleasure of meeting you.
‘Planning and coordinating this trip for all of us took a lot of fitting together of minute details, so everything would go right. The wonderful team spirit of A.C.W did it and we thank each one of you who had even the smallest part in making our stay in Australia a happy one. If there was such acceptance of each other in the world, there will be no wars.
‘I close with Christian love. Peace.
Since that first ACWC Executive Committee meeting held in 1978, there have been at least three more meetings hosted in Australia. In 1987 and 2001, the meetings were again held in Adelaide, and in 2013 the meeting took place in Perth.
If you have or know the whereabouts of a photo of Fran Bailey, or any photos taken and reports written when the ACWC Executive Committee visited Australia in 1978, please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org