In 1963, the Interim Committee of Australian Church Women was advised that a mystery gift had arrived at the office of the Australian Council of Churches — a gift of US$1,000. It was sent on behalf of the Fellowship of the Least Coin from the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland, and it was to be used for ‘work among Australian aboriginal girls’.
But who or what was the Fellowship of the Least Coin?
And why were they sending funds to Australia?
Very few Australians in 1963 had heard of this fellowship or knew who was behind it.
The Fellowship of the Least Coin (FLC) is a worldwide ecumenical movement of prayer for peace, justice and reconciliation. Through this movement, Christian women around the world seek fellowship with each other and are reminded to live a reconciling and forgiving life with others. Though ‘least coins’ are given with each prayer, it is not a fundraising project, but a movement of prayer without any discrimination of race, colour, culture or denomination. It enables all, whether rich or poor, educated or illiterate, in urban or rural areas, to participate in the offering of their 'least coin', with prayer, thus providing 'gifts of love' to be given for projects all over the world.
It is important that only the 'least coin' of each currency be set aside so that even the poorest women of each country can be a part of this fellowship of love and care.
The Fellowship of the Least Coin is a unique prayer movement that began in 1956 as a vision from God to a humble Christian woman, Mrs Shanti Solomon of India. Shanti desired peace, justice and reconciliation for all, in the wake of the devastating second world war and its ongoing consequences from bitterness and enmity. Read more on this at:
In March 1964, the Interim Committee of Australian Church Women arranged a National Consultation, which was held at Wesley College, the University of Sydney. Representatives from Women’s Inter-church Councils of South Australia, Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales attended, as well as representatives from the Armenian Apostolic Church, Church of England (Anglican), Churches of Christ, Congregational, Greek Orthodox, Methodist, Presbyterian and The Salvation Army denominations.
‘At this Consultation, Mrs Joan Coates presented the Fellowship of the Least Coin and told of the gift of $1,000 received in 1963, from this fund for work amongst Australian Aborigines. The meeting recommended to the Interim Committee that the Fellowship of the Least Coin be introduced throughout Australia and suggested that World Community Day might be a suitable time to receive this money.’1
Once Australian Church Women learnt more about the Fellowship of the Least Coin, they embraced it wholeheartedly as you can see in the correspondence below from the Women's Inter-church Council of Victoria. The FLC's Circle of Prayer devotional booklet was also willingly accepted and used by the members.
1 As recorded by Mrs Marjory Verco, one of the founding mothers of Australian Church Women.