All the members were looking forward to it. The special Interim Committee had laboured over crossing the t's and dotting the i's, but there was one hurdle they just couldn’t quite jump over—expensive airfares!
Australian Church Women (ACW) wanted to host the 1986 Assembly of the Asian Church Women’s Conference (ACWC), and they had worked closely with Eunice Kim, the ACWC Executive Secretary, to plan this event. Mrs Kim had even been enabled to visit Australia in April 1984 on a Travelling Winifred Kiek Fellowship to see first hand where the assembly would be held and report back to the ACWC Executive Committee, to help them in determining whether to accept Australia’s offer to host the assembly.
The Asian women were enthusiastic about holding their assembly in Australia, however, that last hurdle to overcome became more elusive as time passed. Even though, in 1985, Adelaide was not an expensive Australian city, and the Australian women had crafted a modest budget and spent many months fundraising, the projected deficit was too large once international airfares were added to the costs.
So much had been planned and already accomplished by the Assembly Interim Committee and the members arranging transport, accommodation, hospitality, welcome packs, guest speakers, tours etc. to make it a memorable assembly for the 120 guests expected to attend. They even considered that the August weather would be very cold for many of the Asian women, and ‘operation bedsocks’ was launched to provide a pair of knitted bedsocks for every guest.
You may laugh at the thought of a bedsocks project, but I can assure you that it would have been a very worthwhile consideration in 2013 when the WA Unit of Australian Church Women generously hosted the members of the ACWC Executive Committee in Perth for their annual meeting.
I was presiding over the meeting and even though it was at the start of a very mild winter with sunny days, two of the young women felt the cold very much during the evenings. For the sleeping arrangements, we ended up accommodating them in fold-up beds with lots of blankets and parked next to the heater, which was set on low throughout the night.
Back to 1985, and eleven months before the assembly was due to begin in Adelaide, a heartbreaking decision had to be made to withdraw Australia as the host country because of financial considerations, particularly those airfares. The Australian women were sincerely thanked for all they had done, and everyone hoped that at some time in the future an ACWC assembly would take place in Australia.
A change in plans meant new challenges, and Australia stood by to help in any way possible. In November 1985, Thailand issued an invitation for the 1986 assembly to be held in Bangkok, and the invitation was accepted. A number of tasks the Australian women had completed were able to be transferred to the Thai committee e.g. the gifts of assembly shoulder bags for participants could still be used.
Thailand became the host country and in November 1986, the ACW’C’s eighth assembly was held in Bangkok over 6 days. It commenced on 2 November with the theme of ‘I Can Do All Things Through Christ’. This was a little over two months beyond the original date of 24–29 August for the Adelaide assembly, and it demonstrates the amount of effort that the ACWC Executive Secretary and the Thai women put into a new host country assuming this responsibility.
Ten Australians were able to attend this assembly—see the earlier report at https://www.acw.org.au/post/nothing-much-to-report.
During this assembly in Bangkok, Mrs Shanti Solomon gave notice of her resignation as Executive Secretary of the International Committee of the Fellowship of the Least Coin, and nominations were called to fill her position. Mrs Shirin Samuel of Pakistan was elected in May 1987.
Even though it was a great disappointment not to host the ACWC assembly, Australia was able to host the much smaller meeting of the ACWC Executive Committee in September 1987, in Adelaide, to coincide with the biennial National Conference of Australian Church Women. This was a blessed time for all involved.
I am still looking for photos and reports from this eighth ACWC assembly. Please advise if you know of any.
Also, if you have any old copies of the ACWC bulletin/newsletter prior to 1999 please let me know by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org