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Records of Australian Church Women

  • AU AU-MTC 093/7
  • Serie
  • 1961-1996

United Church Women of Australia (UCWA) was formed at a meeting of the Australian Council of Churches (ACC) on 4 October 1962. UCWA comprised of representatives from the Federal Denominational Women’s Organisations, State Women’s Inter-Church Councils, Australian Council of Churches Committee on Women’s Work and State Committees for Women’s World Day of Prayer. Representatives were appointed approximately equally from office-bearers of the existing organisations and other people appointed for their abilities as Christian leaders. UCWA was affiliated with the Australian Council of Churches to assist in the establishment of links with similar organisations internationally. An Interim Committee was formed to recommend a structure for the ongoing organisation. The Committee recommended that a National Committee be formed together with state and local Committees. The National Committee included six women resident in Sydney who would form the Executive. At the Annual Meeting of the Australian Council of Churches in February 1963 the establishment of Australian Church Women (ACW) was authorised.
At the Annual General Meeting of the ACC in 1964 the recommendation of a consultation held in Sydney in March of that year received 'general approval'. The recommendations covered the aims of ACW, its federal structure and its structure within the ACC.
The aims were

  • To unite Australian Church Women in their allegiance to their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ;
  • to provide opportunities or Christian worship, study, fellowship and service across denomination divisions;
  • to promote co-operation of men and women in the church, family and society;
  • to help Christian women to take a more effective place in the total life and mission of the church; and
  • to unite them through the Fellowship of the Least Coin with Christian women of all countries.
    There was a National Committee that met at least annually, an Executive that met monthly and a Working Committee. The Working Committee consisted of members resident within one state and included all of the office-bearers viz - President, two Vice Presidents, Secretary and Treasurer. Of the undesignated members of the Working Committee one was the of the Winifred Kiek Scholarship Committee. The working committee dealt in particular with ACW activities including the world community day and relationships with the Fellowship of the Least Coin.
    The Winifred Kiek scholarship was awarded annually from 1965. Rev. Winifred Kiek was ordained as a Congregational Church Minister in 1927 and was commemorated for her work as an ordained female minister and within the Australian Council of Churches where she encouraged ministry to women. A subcommittee of ACW was formed to deal with the applications, to recommend candidates for the award and to make arrangements for the applicants when in Australia. The scholarship was available to young Christian Women from developing countries and enabled the to study and gain professional experience in Australia in addition to participating in women's' Christian groups . The papers relating to the Winifred Kiek Scholarship contained in this collection include Sub-Committee correspondence (Mary Andrews was the Convenor of the Committee for many years) occasional reports, printed material including leaflets concerning scholarship holders and their schedules while in Australia, and publicity from the project.
    Two major annual activities were World Community Day and Fellowship Day. It seems that orders of service were produced centrally for use and adaptation in the various state units and local branches. The records of these in this collection include, fliers and other publicity and orders of service. The revised Constitution of 1985 allowed for a biennial National Conference which was held in conjunction with the National Committee meetings. The earliest records of National Conferences date from 1985. There was a new Constitution in 1988 Newsletters were issued to members commencing in August 1964. Initially these appeared to be irregular but by1976 they were issued monthly. By April 1970 the Newsletters were known as 'Women at Work' . From October 1985 the Newsletter was known as ACW News. The Newsletters emanated from the Branch where the Executive at the time was situated although mist issues contained. Many issue have been lost. The State Units pre-dated the federal organisation. The NSW Branch held its inaugural meeting on 18 November 1938 and the Victorian Branch was established by the adoption of its constitution on 13 June 1941.
    The records that comprise this series are not the official archives of Australian Church Women, but those that were held by Mary Andrews. There are some gaps that might indicate the periods of greatest involvement in ACW or normal accidents of record keeping. The series comprises both the records that have survived from the Federal organisations and the State Units and occasionally local branches. Most of the surviving branch records emanated from NSW.

Andrews, Mary Maria