‘To share with 106 women of 22 countries, living with them, talking with them, experiencing some of their hopes and aspirations was a thrilling experience. It brought into focus all the aims and purposes of our movement and gave to each who shared a demonstration of the oneness of true Christian fellowship.’
So began the report on the 6th Assembly of the Asian Church Women’s Conference (ACWC) written by Isabel Macintyre (Mrs Lt Colonel), an Australian Church Women (ACW) observer at this event. The year was 1978 and four ACW women travelled to Gotemba, Japan, to mark 20 years since the founding of the ACWC. Isabel gave a brief account of her experience in the newsletter of Australian Church Women.
‘The colourful opening ceremony was a fitting introduction. The dignity and grace of the participants, the charm and the beauty of the national costumes, the realization of being present and involved in such an occasion gave food for thought and set the right tone for the assembly.
‘Hearts were stirred and emotions kindled by the President as she presented the theme, “Called to Change” that permeated the entire outworking of the programme and we left with a deep challenge to action, “Committed to Serve”.
‘The daily devotional sessions were rich in blessings. The Bible study prepared and presented by Rev. Joyce Bennet of Hong Kong was a time of challenge and real sharing.
‘The four commissions based on “Changes” being faced by Home and Family – in work – in church – in society. As committed Christians, what is our role?
‘The leadership of the commissions was excellent, giving opportunity for thought and discussion and working through to the assembly statement.
‘A special feature of the assembly was the time given to representative guest speakers who shared with us their hopes and concerns of women of their countries.
‘Opportunity was given to visit a place of social concern and Japanese Christian outreach. I chose to visit a home for frail-aged citizens. There we saw “Commitment to Serve” in action.
‘A day was spent with a host Japanese family. It was my privilege to stay with the Yoshida family of Suganami, Tokyo, attending a service that Sunday and participating through a translator. Our host graciously entertained us with the traditional “Sukiyaki” meal. It was an opportunity for clearer insight into Japanese family life.
‘The entire assembly added up to a mind-broadening, soul-enriching experience with a challenge to greater dedication and commitment to service in my own life.’
Isabel added to the National ACW report with this heartfelt comment:
'Australian Church Women opens many doors for we who have been involved at local, State and national level. The 6th Assembly of Asian Church Women has crystalised the many wonderful experiences of fellowship, Christian unity, and service that I have known since association with A.C.W. I shall be everlastingly grateful to the committee for the opportunity to share in this event which been a life changing experience, opening my eyes to wider horizons and my heart to a closer affinity to people of the world.'
The other Australians present at the assembly were Rachel Cocks, the Australian National Representative to the ACWC; Mrs Win Dougherty, ACW National President; and Miss Ruth Nebro.
The theme of the assembly matched the emphasis on social and political issues promoted by the World Council of Churches, and Mrs Agnes Loyall, the outgoing President of the ACWC, concluded the assembly by restating the purpose of the Asian Church Women's Conference in her closing remarks:
'The purpose of God for the Churches in East Asia and South Asia is life together in a common obedience to Him for the doing of His will in the world, and that we are called to demonstrate His love in all areas of life through the programmes of development, social justice and witness. Let the Sixth Assembly of Asian Church Women's Conference enter the new quadrennium with faith and courage, because we are about His business for the liberation of His children.'
The office of the Asian Church Women's Conference does not have any photos from this assembly, nor does Australian Church Women. If you know the whereabouts of any photos, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org