The newsletters of Australian Church Women (ACW) have often been employed to promote the Fellowship of the Least Coin (FLC), and to clarify that it is a prayer movement and the coins given represent prayers. Often the FLC information also kept members abreast of FLC correspondence, including the annual application for FLC grants. In this blog post are snippets concerning the FLC that I have extracted from a few 1975 issues of the Women at Work ACW newsletters. In 1975, Shanti Solomon, the founder of the FLC, was responsible for its administration as the elected executive secretary.
The April 1975 issue was almost 12 years after the FLC was first introduced to the ACW Interim Committee, and it was appropriate that readers were given another brief reminder of how the FLC began:
‘F.L.C. Convenor, Frances Downes, reminds members that F.L.C. was born out of a situation where reconciliation was urgently needed and someone listened to God instead of chattering to Him. "When we have prayed, when we have listened", she reports in the W.I.C.C.V. Newsletter, "only then can we give our least coin — a sign of listening and love."
[W.I.C.C.V. Women's Inter-Church Council of Victoria]
In the July edition of Women at Work, readers were advised of three Australian projects that ACW had forwarded for consideration of an FLC grant:
‘The following projects were submitted for consideration for F.L.C. grants:–
Provision of a small omnibus and office equipment for use in the work of the Aboriginal Evangelical Fellowship in Queensland.
Nungalinya College, Darwin.
Missionary Sisters of Charity in their work among the Aborigines and outcasts at Burke [sic] in New South Wales.’
After the 1975 National Committee Meeting held in Adelaide from 19–22 August, the leadership of the National Working Committee passed from the South Australian Unit to the West Australian Unit. The October 1975 issue of Women at Work was produced in WA, and the following appeared in the newsletter:
‘Our F.L.C. Secretary, Vera Wilson, is concerned that giving the least coin should mean something more than dropping a cent in a jar at a monthly or weekly meeting. She suggests that people should be encouraged to save cents at home and that relevant information be given with the jar label. Moreover Vera felt that the working committee should lead the way, so we all went home from the last meeting with a label and a determination to set up our own jars immediately.’
This paragraph was further explained in the subsequent November issue of Women at Work to clarify that the focus of the FLC was prayer not fund-raising. Other FLC news followed on:
‘These ought ye to have done without neglecting the others. Matthew 23, 23.
‘After reading the paragraph in the October issue concerning the Working Committee's determination to lead the way with individual least coin jars, our F.L.C. secretary was concerned lest you should think that our chief aim was merely to make a collection of cents. That is a very big part of our aim, but the motive is most important, and that is why, the 'Circle of Prayer' accompanies the label for your jar or box. Volume 6 will soon be available, but meanwhile, Volumes 4 and 5 contain meaningful comments and prayers for groups or individuals – and God is available to receive a thought and a prayer of your own as you set aside your coin.
‘Shanti Solomon has written to Vera, with the news that two of our own projects have been considered worthy of F.L.C. support. These are: a. the work in Bourke, N.S.W., of the Missionary Sisters of Charity, and b. Nungalinya College in Darwin.
‘The Australian Order of the Missionary Sisters of Charity was commenced when Mother Theresa of India visited Melbourne in 1969. The Sisters are now working in Melbourne, Katherine and Bourke. Their work is with the outcasts of society, without regard to caste or creed … The project now planned is for a Centre for Elderly People in Bourke, – a rest home for those without home or family.
‘"Nungalinya" means "Old Man Rock", a symbol of Christ the Rock. It is significant that Nungalinya College planned to provide the foundation for the Aboriginal Church. "To fulfil their God-given purposes in the world, the churches will need men and women with special gifts, and abilities to give instruction, counsel and pastoral care. They need especially, Aboriginal people with those gifts. But the leadership will have to be trained so that the natural gifts might be used most effectively. That training will need to be readily accessible for Aboriginal people, and geared to meet their particular situation". And this is what Nungalinya CoIIege is for – to train Aboriginal people to meet these special needs.
‘... The widow who gives her mite lives happily with the affluent Australian woman, who, of her plenty, also sets aside her least coin. They are one in the grace of receiving. They meet in the freedom of an equality rarely experienced.’
These days our ACW website, and websites of the FLC and supporting organisations, showcase the FLC and are easily accessible through the World Wide Web. Many of the hard copy resources that used to be distributed for the FLC are now being produced as electronic documents e.g. Circle of Prayer devotional booklet. These are available from both the FLC website and from links on our ACW website, and they can be downloaded and printed.