Next month we celebrate World Community Day, and next week, on 1 October, we begin a month of prayers leading up to this event. This year’s theme is ‘Walk by Faith, not by sight’, and the service and prayers were prepared by the NSW Unit of Australian Church Women (ACW).
World Community Day acknowledges the desire of Church women to fellowship and pray together for peace and justice.
This special day began in the USA in 1943 and made its way to Australia through various Christian links. It was recognised and celebrated by a few inter-church councils across Australia, and in 1964 the Interim Committee of ACW began to look at coordinating the day as a national event. It became a united effort when the administration for this day was accepted by the newly formed Australian Church Women in 1965.
The order of service for the 1963 World Community Day is the earliest copy held in the National Archives of Australian Church Women, and it was written by Mrs Milton Farmer and prepared for the United Church Women of the USA.
Since Australian Church Women began to coordinate World Community Day, the word faith has been included several times in the annual themes. The 1991 service was prepared by the Tasmanian Unit of ACW, and their theme of ‘Forward Together in Faith’ is very similar to our theme for 2020 of 'Walk by Faith not by sight', which is based on the 2020–2021 National Executive’s theme of ‘Moving Forward in Faith’.
Each year, two offerings are taken up at the service. Firstly, the general offering which is divided equally between the Asian Church Women’s Conference and a Special Project elected by the ACW members. The Special Project chosen for 2020 is Sleepbus® Canberra for women. 'Sleepbus® provides a safe, temporary overnight accommodation service, getting people off the street by offering an immediate, first stop, cost-effective solution for our society’s most vulnerable; catching them early until they can get back on their feet.'
The second opportunity for an offering is during the annual dedication of the coins given in prayer for the Fellowship of the Least Coin (FLC) prayer movement. This ingathering segment has been a part of the services since 1964, not long after Australian Church Women learned of the FLC.
As you can see, World Community Day is a significant event on the ACW calendar and, sadly, this year very few services will be held in churches due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, just as we did for Fellowship Day in July, there will be an online service for World Community Day 2020.
This will take place from Friday 30 October at noon Eastern Standard Time, and please don’t forget that daylight saving will be in place for many of us. Further information will be posted to the ACW home page.
Our earlier World Community Day programs included discussion questions for those groups who preferred a more interactive participation on the day. In 1991, the questions were:
1. In what ways do you think our lives can be lived in love by faith?
2. How do you understand unity?
3. How do you see the Holy Spirit moving in Australia today?
These questions are still very apt for today, and you might like to reflect on them and your own journey of faith over the last 30 years.