A couple of weeks ago, my attention was caught when I was reading some of our old newsletters in the archives of Australian Church Women (ACW). The July 1972 issue began with an introduction that has become all too familiar for people all over our world, at the moment.
This introduction was written by Ruth Lane, and she was rejoicing that ‘July brings Fellowship Day!’ with the theme – ‘Rejoice in Hope!’ Not only did she announce the annual Fellowship Day joyfully, but she also told the readers that she had been confined to her house for several weeks with a recurring virus. Sound familiar?
This is a copy of her announcement:
Here we are nearly fifty years later and, collectively, we again thought we would be kept from sharing the ACW Fellowship Day because of a recurring virus, although a far more serious one, that has kept us confined to our homes. And the 2020 Fellowship Day also has a theme about joy and hope – ‘Joy for the Journey: Making Wise Decisions’. Surprising similarities that leapt off the page at me.
This year, it’s unlikely we’ll be able to attend the July Fellowship Day in person, however, we will be able to share the day virtually on the ACW website on Friday 31 July. A service booklet will be made available to download from 1 July on the Special Days page, and a month of prayers will commence leading up to Fellowship Day at the end of the month. Every day in July another prayer will be added until Fellowship Day arrives on 31 July with a webpage dedicated to the content of the service.
Nationally, ACW holds two special days each year – Fellowship Day in July and World Community Day in October.
Fellowship Day began in the USA in March 1933, during the depression years. The Administrative Committee of the interdenominational Women's Council for Home Missions was holding their annual meeting, and when they realised that not only themselves but all levels of society were experiencing fear about the future, they decided to take action to try and change the mood. Six weeks later, on Monday 1 May 1933, a May Day Luncheon was held at noon in the George Washington Hotel in New York City. The atmosphere was celebratory and the program featured two topics: Child Health and Children of Migrant Families.*
World Community Day was first observed in 1943 in the USA, during the Second World War, as a day to focus on peace by Church women. While many denominations were undertaking work on and for peace, it was thought that a day when all Church women could study peace together would be beneficial to all. This motion was adopted and coordinated as a regular event by the United Council of Church Women, and it was usually celebrated on the first Friday in November. The focus was later expanded to include study and work for justice.
*Source: Just Because—the story of the national movement of Church Women United in the U.S.A. 1941 through 1975 by Margaret Shannon, Omega Books, California.
2020 ACW Fellowship Day
Moving Forward in Faith
'Joy for the Journey: Making Wise Decisions'
This year, a virtual ACW Fellowship Day Service will be available online on Friday 31 July.
This event will be preceded by a month of online daily prayers, commencing on 1 July. The service has been prepared by the members of the Western Australia Unit of Australian Church Women. A booklet of the service will be available to download on 1 July.