Come, Holy Spirit, Come
I always find it interesting to look at the photos and reports of past national conferences of Australian Church Women (ACW). I’m always curious to see what the legendary women of ACW looked like, and to read members’ personal highlights of ACW events. Sometimes, these records remind us of other incidents that occurred at that time, as well as providing us with snippets of public opinion and social history that were current. If only we had more photos of our earliest members and conferences; they would be a rich addition to our herstory of Australian Church Women.
This week, we’re looking back at the 1989 national conference that was held in Perth from 11–15 September. We read how the gathering was able to go on despite a strike by airline pilots that prevented some being able to attend. I’m sure they were very disappointed as the ACW conferences are always memorable and informative, with enriching spiritual refreshment and fellowship.
The conference theme was: ‘Come, Holy Spirit, Come’, and a report written by Helen Richardson, of the New South Wales Unit of ACW, was published in the October edition of the ACW newsletter. Here is Helen’s account:
'Because of the air pilots strike, sixteen people who registered for the Conference were not able to get to Perth, and those who did make it had interesting stories to tell of their travels. All States were represented. We were very comfortably housed in Kingswood College, a Uniting Church Conference Centre at the University of Perth [WA].
'During the five days of the Conference we attended ten business sessions, four Bible Studies, a Civic Reception, a bus trip along the coast, a Forum Discussion, a Multicultural Concert, a Focus on Services, morning and evening devotions and opening and closing services, as well as the usual breaks for sustenance.
'You might think from this that we ran from one event to the next, but that is not so. The program was so well organised that there was ample time to talk informally with women from other units, especially since President Lee Edwards made sure sessions ran to time.
'Each unit took turns in arranging morning or evening devotions and these quiet times at the beginning and end of each day were much appreciated. So too were the Opening Service in St. Thomas More Catholic Chapel at the University and the Closing Service at St. Paul's Uniting Church Nedlands, which included the Commissioning of the new National Executive.
'The business sessions received reports from the Units, Committees, Denominations and Interest Groups, and approved some changes to the Constitution and Winifred Kiek Scholarship Deed of Trust, appointed representatives to the Asian Church Women's Conference and the ACWC Representative to take office after the Conference in Jakarta next year.
'Bible Studies, held on four mornings, were led by a Catholic Sister (Come in Peace), an Anglican Deacon (Come in Relationships), a Salvation Army Officer (Come in Service) and a Uniting Church Minister (Come in Wholeness of Life). Each used a different method to focus on their theme and all were excellent.
'We felt very privileged when we alighted from the lift on the eighth floor of the City Council Building, firstly because of the spectacular view over the River, and secondly because we were attending a Civic Reception and were received by the Acting Lord Mayor, Joan Watters, who had also attended the Opening Service. From there we were taken on a bus tour of the northern Beaches, with a stop at Hillarys Boat Harbour, a popular tourist attraction, from there to lunch at Floreat Park Uniting Church, then to view Perth from King's Park — a grandstand view.
'During the evening programs we met some interesting people with worthwhile ideas which they shared with us through a Forum Discussion. There are many good things happening which are fulfilling a need and Focus on Services introduced four worthwhile schemes which are operating in the Perth community.
'The International Concert introduced us to Irish, Thai, Aboriginal, Tongan, Indonesian and Australian artists. These acts were greatly enjoyed by the audience although it was a worrying time for the organisers when most of the performers had not arrived at the time the show was due to begin!
'The National Committee had many problems to overcome during their term of office, and the air pilot's strike must have seemed like the 'last straw'. But they deserve top marks for the well-organised, well-run conference they provided.
'The extra hospitality provided for those travellers whose time in Perth was extended was also much appreciated. Thank you, retiring National Committee, for a job well done.'
As you can see, it was another impressive conference for Australian Church Women.
If you have any photos or records from our earliest ACW conferences and events, please consider copying or forwarding them for our National ACW Archive. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange collection of any items.