FELLOWSHIP OF THE LEAST COIN
The Fellowship of the Least Coin (FLC) is a worldwide ecumenical movement of prayer for peace, justice and reconciliation. Through this movement, Christian women around the world seek fellowship with each other and are reminded to live a reconciling and forgiving life with others. Though ‘least coins’ are given with each prayer, it is not a fundraising project, but a movement of prayer without any discrimination of race, colour, culture or denomination. It enables all, whether rich or poor, educated or illiterate, in urban or rural areas, to participate in the offering of their 'least coin', with prayer, thus providing 'gifts of love' to be given for projects all over the world. These coins are sent regularly to that country’s FLC collection point, where it is forwarded to the FLC Fund. The amount collected by each country is never publicised; only the total sum collected each year is announced. It is important that only the 'least coin' of each currency be set aside so that even the poorest women of each country can be a part of this fellowship of love and care.
HOW AND WHEN THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE LEAST COIN BEGAN
The idea for the Fellowship of the Least Coin emerged as a vision from God to Mrs Shanti Solomon of India. In September 1956,
she was part of the Pacific Mission Team of seven women from different countries that travelled in Asia after World War II with
a message of reconciliation. It was organised by Dr Margaret Shannon of the National Office of Presbyterian Women in the
USA. Shanti Solomon was refused a visa to Korea during the trip, so she travelled to the Philippines while the others went
to Korea. In the Philippines, Shanti reflected on the experiences of the war-torn countries of Asia, and the national and
economic barriers that kept women apart.
Shanti suggested that prayer could transcend every national boundary. She then challenged the Christian women of
Asia and of the Presbyterian Church of the USA to launch a project of Christian prayer and positive action, in which
every woman could participate, no matter her economic position. Every time a woman prayed she was to set aside
a ‘least coin’ of her currency. It was an encouragement to the women of the team to demonstrate their unity in Christian
faith, regardless of their country or economic circumstances.
The East Asia Christian Conference (EACC), now the Christian Conference of Asia (CAA), administered the Fellowship of the Least Coin fund from 1958-1970. In 1958, the first Assembly of the Asian Church Women’s Conference (ACWC), held in Hong Kong, agreed to adopt the Fellowship of the Least Coin as their one project. At the second Assembly in Thailand, in 1962, the ACWC voted to make the promotion of the Fellowship of the Least Coin their basic outreach programme.
In 1970, Mrs Shanti Solomon was named the Executive Secretary of the Fellowship of the Least Coin and Asian Church Women’s Conference. She was followed by Mrs Shirin Samuel of Pakistan (1987-1997). Since that time the Executive Secretary has been an Asian woman, active in Asian Church Women’s Conference.
The current Executive Secretary of the International Committee for the Fellowship of the Least Coin (ICFLC) is Dr Liza B Lamis, c/- Union Theological Seminary, Sampaloc 1, Palapala, Dasmarinas City, 4114 Philippines. Her email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
DEDICATION OF OFFERINGS
Each year, the 'least coins' in Australia are received and dedicated at the annual World Community Day service which is usually held in October across Australia, and convened by Australian Church Women. Cheques (marked Fellowship of the Least Coin) may be sent to the National Treasurer of Australian Church Women if the donor is resident in Australia. For the address, please contact the National Secretary. (Contact details listed at the bottom of this page).
The idea for the FLC logo – the praying hands forming a lotus flower – came from the late Mrs Rayann Ma ofHong Kong, and she was assisted with the design by her commercial artist brother-in-law, James Ma. Rayann was also the Chairperson of the first Assembly of the Asian Church Women’s Conference (ACWC).
CIRCLE OF PRAYER
Feeling the need to reaffirm prayer as the vital element of the Fellowship of the Least Coin, the Asian Church Women’s Conference asked the women of Hong Kong to prepare a booklet of prayers to be used as the 'least coin' is set aside. Rayann Ma took responsibility for this booklet. Since then, the Circle of Prayer booklet has become an important part of the Fellowship of the Least Coin. Twenty-four meditations and prayers are written by women around the world and published by the International Committee for the Fellowship of the Least Coin every two years.
FELLOWSHIP OF THE LEAST COIN GROWTH
The seed which was planted in Manila, quickly gained acceptance, not only among the women of Asia to whom it was first presented but also among women of all the continents in the world. In 1966, when the Fellowship of the Least Coin celebrated its tenth anniversary, women from 24 countries participated in the movement. By 1980, at the time of its Silver Jubilee, women from 75 countries had already joined the Fellowship of the Least Coin. In 1996, women from more than 80 countries around the world celebrated the fortieth anniversary of the Fellowship of the Least Coin.
THE INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE FOR THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE LEAST COIN
The Fellowship of the Least Coin (FLC) prayer movement became truly worldwide and grants were made to programmes and projects all over the world, therefore the International Committee for the Fellowship of the Least Coin (ICFLC) was formed in 1979 to administer the promotion, the interpretation of the movement and the allocation of the FLC grants. The International Committee comprises representatives of worldwide ecumenical women’s organisations and of regional ecumenical Conferences of the Churches. Year after year the ICFLC learns to trust God more and more and to work in faith. The Committee meets every year to share the miraculous works of the FLC around the world and to decide on FLC grants for the following year. Application forms for project grants are received four months prior to the meeting. The members of the Committee study the application forms, pray about them, discuss and decide on each project without knowing how much FLC funding will be available for the grants they wish to allocate for each year. The ‘least coins’ from around the world come in with prayers, quietly and gradually, to meet the needs for each year. Our gentle, loving and compassionate God never fails us. God does great works through the humble, the least, the marginalised and the poor. That is the strength, the promise, the beauty, and the surprise upholding the FLC prayer movement.
Every year ICFLC is invited by different regions to hold its meeting in their country. An exposure and a visitation programme is added to the regular business meeting in order for the representatives to know more about the region and to be aware of the issues and the concerns of the people there. Every four years the committee meets immediately following the Asian Church Women's Conference Assembly.
FELLOWSHIP OF THE LEAST COIN GRANT
Each year about 35 to 50 projects are given grants. Each Regional Women’s Desk of Ecumenical Conferences, the Women’s Desk of the World Council of Churches and the World Day of Prayer International Committee are given block grants to enhance their work and to strengthen ecumenical solidarity. Emergency grants for disaster relief and rehabilitation are also given.
In allocating grants, the International Committee for the Fellowship of the Least Coin keeps in mind the following categories:
Opportunities for awareness-raising and/or educating women on gender issues
Programmes of literacy, health, social concerns and leadership development recommended by recognised Christian groups
Programmes enhancing justice, peace and reconciliation for women and families, communities, countries and the world
Opportunities for women to meet in ecumenical fellowship in regional, national and worldwide gatherings
The following are guiding principles for grants to any project:
Normally not to exceed US$5,000
Not given for constructing buildings