Fellowship Day and World Community Day
Fellowship Day acknowledges the desire of Church women
to fellowship together in work, study and worship.
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 USA 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 inject a more optimistic mood into the very anxious sentiments that prevailed. 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. The luncheon was very successful and became an annual event.
This luncheon day continued to grow, and it changed names several times. From 1933‒38, it was known as Dedication Day, and in 1939 it became the responsibility of the National Council of Church Women and was observed as an event ‘to strengthen a growing sense of unity, the joy of Christian fellowship, and the power of Christianity in the day of need’.
Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt endorsed the May Luncheons, and she wrote to the organisers saying, 'I am glad that the May Luncheons are being held to bring church women together. Christians should exert to the full their influence on this troubled world, and cooperation is the way in which we can do this'.
In 1945, this celebration day became known as May Fellowship Day, and in 1966 it became part of the program of Church Women United (USA).
[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.]
When the women of the various inter-church councils of Australia learned of the May Fellowship Day, they agreed to support this event and incorporate it into their programs. It did not become a coordinated national event until after the formation of Australian Church Women in 1965. Fellowship Day was later moved to July.
In Australia, Fellowship Day is
generally observed on the last Friday in July.
The annual Fellowship Day offering in Australia supports the Winifred Kiek Scholarship. This scholarship is available to Christian women living in multicultural Australia, Pacific Island nations, and member countries of the Asian Church Women’s Conference, and it is for women who already have basic training in a chosen field of work.
The order of service for the 1962 Australian Fellowship Day is the earliest available in the National Archives of Australian Church Women, and it was arranged by the Women’s Inter-Church Council of Victoria. The 2020 Fellowship Day service was prepared by the members of the Western Australia Unit of Australian Church Women.
Cover of the 1962 Fellowship Day Service
World Community Day
Header of the 1963 World Community Day Service
World Community Day acknowledges the desire of Church women to fellowship and pray together for peace and justice.
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. It was adopted and coordinated as a regular event by the United Council of Church Women, and was usually celebrated on the first Friday in November. The focus was later expanded to include study and work for justice.
Again, when the women of the various inter-church councils of Australia learned of the World Community Day, they agreed to support this event and incorporate it into their programs. It did not become a coordinated national event until after the formation of Australian Church Women in 1965.
In Australia, World Community Day is
generally observed on the last Friday in October.
The general offering is divided equally between a special project, nominated by Australian Church Women, and the Asian Church Women's Conference.
It is very apt that Fellowship of the Least Coin (FLC) collections are also dedicated at this service because the FLC is a worldwide ecumenical movement of prayer for peace, justice and reconciliation. The first FLC ingathering was held at the 1965 World Community Day.
This special day strengthens the bond and understanding between Church women as they join together in fellowship and worship.
The order of service for the 1963 World Community Day is the earliest available 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. The 2020 Fellowship Day service will be prepared by the members of the New South Wales Unit of Australian Church Women.
In addition to the Special Days above, Australian Church Women
also encourages the observance of the World Day of Prayer,
which is held annually on the 1st Friday in March.