Ripples of Reconciliation
Fellowship of the Least Coin
by Anna H. Bedford
emotions were running high in 1956 when a small international
group of women set out on a journey through Asia. Organized by
Margaret Shannon, a board member of Church Women United, the
purpose of the Pacific Fellowship Mission was to see what face-to-face
encounters with other Christian women could do to end the deep
divisions that followed World War II.
They soon discovered that bitter feelings, one country against
another, still raged. In Japan, anti-American antagonism was
rampant. In Korea, one participant from India, Shanti Solomon,
was denied entry because her country had supported the United
Nations' decision to divide North and South Korea. Shanti remained
behind in the Philippines, where she saw the devastation of war
and heard strong anti-Japanese sentiment.
"I kept thinking about this hurt/revenge attitude. The only
way out of this vicious circle is through forgiveness,"
she told the other team members. Feeling helpless to change things
at the international level, the women pledged to forgive on a
personal level. "Each of us, when hurt by another person,
instead of harboring resentment, would kneel down and pray to
God to give her strength to forgive that person."*
Shanti believed that by forgiving our neighbors we spread a ripple
of reconciliation that spreads out in widening circles, bringing
justice and peace to the world. Inspired by the story in Mark
about the widow's mite (Mk. 12:41--44), the women decided
that each would set aside their country's least coin as a tangible
symbol of fellowship and reconciliation.
Among the first to respond were their hosts in Japan, Korea and
the Philippines, and the Fellowship of the Least Coin (FLC)---a
movement of prayer for justice, peace and reconciliation---was
born. Presbyterian women in the United States joined in February
From the beginning, it was a prayer movement, not a fundraiser.
But the coins multiplied, and the first grant of $4,075 was made
to an orphanage in Korea in 1959. Growth continued and a new
organization, the Asian Christian Women's Conference, emerged
to manage it. By 1962, the movement was big enough to demand
a formal administration structure. Over time, regional block
grants and scholarships for training and conferences largely
replaced direct gifts to individual projects.
Since its inception, leadership has passed from Shanti Solomon
of India to Shirin Samuel of Pakistan to Esther Byu of Burma.
One of the most valuable resources for prayer, the devotional
booklet The Circle of Prayer, was first produced by Ryann Ma
of Hong Kong. To Ryann and her brother, James, also goes the
credit for the unique symbol that makes Fellowship of the Least
Coin instantly recognizable. At first glance it simply appears
to be a flower within a circle. A closer look shows it is actually
six pairs of hands folded in prayer. What better reminder that
the Fellowship is a spiritual movement, whose primary purpose
is not to raise money but to unite Christian women of many lands
in warm, mutual concern that expresses itself in faithful intercessory
*Lakshmi K. Daniel, compiler. Many Prayers,
One Prayer: Reconciliation and Hope through the Fellowship of
the Least Coin (International Committee for the Least Coin, 1999),
Who Cares About Her?
second phase of the national awareness campaign for PW is ready
for distribution! A set of three posters, each depicting one
of the special offerings collected each year, is now ready to
order. These poster sets are a great way to educate others about
the mission work of PW, as well as serving as a reminder that
Presbyterian Women are a caring part of the Presbyterian church's
community of faith. Order the free posters by calling PDS at
800/524-2512, English #PWR-02-600, Spanish #PWR-02-601, or Korean
Call 800/ 524-2612 to subscribe.
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