Looking Ahead, and Back

This month, April 2019, the Associated Country Women of the World will meet in Melbourne, Australia and a number of changes will occur. At the end of the Conference, we will have a new World President, and a new Area President for Canada.

But while these changes are coming, many things will remain the same: the dedication to helping women in the under developed countries around the globe, the friendships that have been forged between women of many different nations, and the respect for those members and the countries they call home for the projects they have undertaken to help forge a better world.

So this column will examine one point on which we all agree, yet have a slightly different approach.

Over the past number of years, I have examined a great many papers linked to the history of the British Columbia Women’s Institute. The most recent boxes I have worked with were donated by Sharon Hatten, from her mother, Helene Hatten’s collection of memorabilia over her many years of membership and travels around the world to ACWW conferences.

Here in British Columbia, members open their meetings with the Mary Stewart Collect, as written in 1904 by Mary Stewart, an American school teacher. In Helene’s collection of papers, I found the following, printed on a card approximately the size of a recipe card:

The Country Women’s Association of Tasmania Collect

Let us, O Lord, achieve the nobler purpose

For which we live – that others may be blest,

Save us from pettiness and all self-seeking:

Teach us to seek, to find, to give the best,

Let us be genuine with one another,

And see in each the best that we can find,

So many lives depend on ours for brightness

Lord, keep us brave, and help us to be kind.

To me, this is an echo of the Mary Stewart Collect, but given a touch that sets it a little apart.  So we are the same, yet we are different, but being so, we can still work together to help our less fortunate sisters. Some change is needed at times, but within the Associated Country Women of the World, as long as we are on the same page, why fix what is working?

In this month of April, as decisions are being made half a world away, and as we mark Women Walk the World events, let’s also celebrate our similarities and our differences, and continue to meet the challenges involved in helping one another to change those things that need to be changed.

Yours For Home and Country, Ruth Fenner, BCWI Historian


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