PW Celebration of Christian Community
Fellowship of the Least Coin links prayer and “least coins” in a very significant way, as the least coin becomes the symbol of prayer for peace and reconciliation. Fellowship of the Least Coin, an ecumenical prayer movement, was begun in 1956 by Shanti Solomon of India who believed that women anywhere could have a sense of being part of a worldwide family of faith as they prayed for peace and reconciliation and set aside the least coin of their country as a symbol of that prayer. As coins are gathered from around the world, they become a sign of our oneness in the common quest for peace, justice and reconciliation. May Friendship Day is the traditional day for collecting the Least Coin Offering.
Grants are made by an international committee for special projects of evangelism, service, ecumenical solidarity, awareness-building among women and relief throughout the world. Presbyterian women are encouraged to participate in the Fellowship of the Least Coin. You may order copies of the Circle of Prayer, a booklet of meditations and prayers by women around the world, through Church Women United, by calling (800) 298-5551, option 3.
Get a Fellowship of the Least Coin prayer card
PW Remittance Form
Congregations that collect donations to the mission pledge, Birthday or Thank Offering, Together in Service or Fellowship of the Least Coin should mail contributions (as a check made payable to Treasurer of Presbyterian Women) with a PW Remittance Form to the treasurer of Presbyterian Women in the Presbytery. Email Presbyterian Women to find out the name and address of your PWP treasurer.
Fellowship of the Least Coin Brochure
This file may be printed as a two-sided brochure. Fold in the left and right 1/3 of the page when finished printing.
Celebrating the Legacy, Visioning the Future, Living the Jubilee
The Asian Church Women’s Conference and the Fellowship of the Least Coin at 50
By Susan Jackson Dowd and Ann Ferguson
In 2006, the Fellowship of the Least Coin Ecumenical Prayer Movement (FLC) and the Asian Church Women’s Conference (ACWC) each celebrated their 50th anniversary. The ACWC held a special celebration during its 13th General Assembly in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, last October. Women from 30 countries attended, including voting representatives from 18 Asian countries. Presbyterian Women was well represented by members of the Churchwide Coordinating Team — Catrelia Hunter, moderator, and Mary Wong Leong, Asian American member-at-large — as well as members of PW’s national staff — Susan Jackson Dowd, PW communications coordinator, Ann Ferguson, PW program coordinator, and Laura Lee, PW resource coordinator and art director.
FLC is the main program of the Asian Church Women’s Conference. Other ministries within ACWC’s scope are executive and general committee meetings, provision of emergency funds and scholarships, and prayer and financial support for projects and missionaries throughout Asia. Shu When Chiang, ACWC executive secretary, describes the conference as a gathering and fellowship point for Asian churchwomen with a mission emphasis that helps empower and encourage others through practical projects.
Celebrating the Legacy
PW has a historical relationship with ACWC and the Fellowship of the Least Coin. At the anniversary celebration in Malaysia, the outgoing president of ACWC, Annam Arumanayagam, and many others referred to Presbyterian Women as the midwife who helped birth not only Fellowship of the Least Coin but the Asian Church Women’s Conference. Throughout 2006, Presbyterian women, along with Christian women around the world, repeated the story of the birth of the FLC. How many of us know the rest of the story — the birth of the Asian Church Women’s Conference?
In 1956, Margaret Shannon, representing Women of the Church (Presbyterian Church in the United States), organized the Pacific Fellowship Mission Team. The team’s post World War II purpose was to travel through Asia with a message of reconciliation and hope, learning what they could about the situation there. Seven women from different countries participated. Shanti Solomon, team member from India, was denied entrance to Korea because relations between India and Korea were not good after the war. Shanti went to the Philippines to wait. While there, she reflected on the experiences of the team’s travel in the war-torn countries of Asia and became inspired to promote reconciliation, justice and peace. Once reunited with the team, Shanti suggested that prayer could transcend every national boundary. She challenged the Christian women of Asia and the women of the Presbyterian Church in the United States to combine efforts and resources to launch a project for justice, peace and reconciliation internationally. The project would include all women on an equal basis, no matter their economic circumstances. The team accepted the challenge to birth a movement that expressed solidarity with suffering humanity and with women from every nation. Shannon encouraged Presbyterian women in the United States to become part of the movement. Later, she extended that possibility to women of all denominations through Church Women United.
Two years later, the Asian Church Women’s Conference was born out of this same spirit. In 1958, Shannon brought together a group of women from Asia at Stony Point Conference Center in New York, prior to their attending the national meeting of Presbyterian women. The group gathered to plan a conference that would bring women of the Reformed and United Asian Churches together. Shannon and Dorothy Wagner, then serving as eastern secretary for United Presbyterian Women and as secretary for Ecumenical and Global Relations for the United Presbyterian Church, met with the group. Together they conceived ACWC.
The first ACWC conference was held in November 1958. During this conference, the women decided to make Fellowship of the Least Coin the main program of ACWC. Both the FLC movement and ACWC quickly grew. By its second conference in 1962, ACWC had become ecumenical and the Fellowship of the Least Coin had become global. “By the time the fourth conference of ACWC was held in Indonesia in 1970, the work of interpreting the FLC, screening and recommending projects for grants, had grown to the point that it was agreed to employ an executive secretary. Shanti Solomon, the founder, was asked to carry this responsibility” (Celebrating the Legacy, p. 22).
Visioning the Future
Talking about the future of the relationship between ACWC and Presbyterian Women is not possible without talking about the Fellowship of the Least Coin (FLC). In a letter to the Asian Church Women’s Conference on the occasion of the anniversaries, 2006–2009 PW national moderator Catrelia unter wrote, “Presbyterian Women is committed to continuing our support of the Fellowship of the Least Coin — we will walk together in faith and love as the Fellowship of the Least Coin moves into the future.” From midwife to sisters together in Christian service, Presbyterian women are dedicated to partnership with the women of ACWC.
Our least coins, our prayer tokens, are a byproduct of our prayers. They have been and will be put to good use through the continued grant program of the International Committee of the Fellowship of the Least Coin. The committee is comprised of representatives from worldwide and regional ecumenical bodies, with a majority representation from Asia in order to maintain the historical relationships among ACWC, the Christian Conference of Asia and the FLC. All are partners with the PC(USA). Eight regions are represented on the committee — Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, North America and the Pacific. The United States is represented on the committee by the president of Church Women United with strong support from Presbyterian Women because of the historical relationship. FLC funds are collected and sent through the World Council of Churches in Geneva where they are held for the International Committee to disperse. The amount coming from each region or country is never disclosed in order to honor the FLC understanding of equality. Requests for funds must come through the worldwide and regional ecumenical bodies and meet FLC criteria. Information on grants and criteria is found in the FLC constitution.
Grants are in three forms: annual block grants to each region, grants to projects and programs that meet the criteria and emergency grants for unexpected events; e.g., the tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, earthquake relief.
FLC matters — prayer and least coins are making a difference all over the world. Prayers and least coins allow us to envision a brighter future for many. Where PW history is concerned, we can tell where we are going by where we have been. The same applies to FLC. We have had a solid 50 years of prayer and positive action that have made a difference for all involved. May the next 50 years be the same.
Susan Jackson Dowd and Ann Ferguson serve as coordinators for Presbyterian Women’s national staff in Louisville, Kentucky.