Fulfilling a Dream – World Christian Women’s Fellowship Beginnings

Jessie M Trout2Excerpt from-

Craddock, Fran, Faw, Martha and Heimer, Nancy. In the Fullness of Time. St. Louis: Chalice Press, 1999

(Jessie Trout) took an extended world tour promoting her dream of a world CWF. On her way to the assembly of the World Convention of the Churches of Christ, meeting in 1952 in Melbourne, Australia, Jessie made a number of stops to meet with women, sharing with them her hopes for a fellowship that might provide encouragement and inspiration, especially for those in isolated parts of the world. The world organization would enable its members to know one another better and would help them feel a closer bond through prayer. Dr. Jesse Bader, executive for the World Convention, encouraged Miss Trout’s efforts on behalf of an active women’s group related to the World Convention, and, though he pushed for greater control by this group, he acquiesced to her firm insistence that a world CWF could not be administrative in any way. Further, she made it clear that the organization would be run by a committee of representative women from all the participating countries, and the Indianapolis office would handle details. When the World CWF was made official in 1955, Miss Trout, again by virtue of her position, was elected secretary-treasurer, but not before two honorary doctorate degrees were given to her, by Bethany College and by Butler University, in early June ceremonies.

August 20, 1955, marked the birth of the World CWF, which took place when women from twenty countries met in Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Canada, to finalize the plans, that had been in formation for many months. On Tuesday, the opening day of the Silver Jubilee Assembly of the World Convention of Churches of Christ, the final promotion of the concept was presented at the week’s largest luncheon, with 1,475 women present. This was followed by Saturday’s session in the Gardens in which the election of officers took place, rules of procedure were adopted, and an offering of $1,004 was given for the new treasury. The stated purpose of the World CWF, as accepted that day, reads:

The purpose of the World Christian Women’s Fellowship shall be to provide a channel by which all women members of the Churches of Christ (Disciples of Christ) may be joined in fellowship and through which by prayer, study, and service they may make a contribution to the extension of the Kingdom of God.

Changes in the World Convention constitution were enacted at the Toronto Assembly, which provided that the World CWF president would automatically become a vice president of the World Convention and that another woman member of the Convention’s executive committee would be named by the World CWF. In the same business session, Charles K. Green, one of the outstanding laymen of the British Churches of Christ, was elected president of the Convention. Only a few hours earlier his wife was elected as the first president of the World CWF.

Hilda Green often said she was never sure whether she was British with American ties or American with British ties. During World War II she brought her two young sons for an extended stay, first in Canada and later in the United States. The Greens had been fraternal delegates to the International Convention on several occasions and were well known in Disciples of Christ circles. While living in the States, Hilda Green had visited many churches and was found to be an excellent speaker and delightful program personality. She served as president through the 1960 Edinburgh Assembly.

Elected to the vice presidency was Juliana Banda of Manila, Philippines, who was married to a young Filipino minister and active in guiding the women of her congregation as they organized CWF. Mrs. Banda was instrumental in establishing the nine o’clock prayer time among the women of the participating countries, and suggested that each country take its turn in preparing monthly prayer topics. This practice was quickly adopted, and the intercessory prayer topic that appeared in the annual CWF yearbook were those prepared by women from many different countries. Another area in which Juliana Banda gave leadership was the World CWF newsletter, to which she contributed frequently.

Annual birthday celebrations were planned to be held around the globe, lifting up prayers of gratitude for the worldwide fellowship that the World CWF fosters, and receiving an offering for the service projects that members support. Again, women around the world ha(d) a part in providing the written service each year. The World CWF meets in assembly every four years in conjunction with the World Convention Assembly. Usually there is a meal function, in addition to a women’s session where issues of concern are the focus. Officers are elected, and members of the executive committee share a pre-Assembly retreat. The World CWF has been of immense value to women in every nation that encourages participation.

Leave a Reply