The Diocesan Women’s Fellowship (DWF) is the organisation that looks after the Women’s Ministry in our Diocese. There is a Diocesan Women’s Fellowship Board which reports directly to the Bishop who is its advisor. The President of the Board is an appointment by the Bishop. She leads the DWF Board wihich comprises an executive committee elected by delegates of all the WF branches at their Biennial Assembly. All chairladies of WF branches are members of the DWF Board.
The Women’s Fellowship (WF) is an important church organisation. Among the important contributions made are :
– taking charge of church linens and cassocks
– church flower arrangements/decorations
– embroidery and needlework
– fund-raising activities e.g. food sale
– Church breakfasts/refreshments
– Bible study
– helping bereaved families
– Care ministry/Sunday School, etc.
The Diocesan Women’s Fellowship (DWF) is one of the two lay ministries in the Diocesan Registry. (The other is the ADYC or Anglican Diocesan Youth Council). It had its origins from an organization called “The Mothers Union” started in Miri by a group of wives of Shell expatriates. Seeing the potential and importance of such a group, in 1975, the Diocese instituted officially a ministry for women called “The Diocesan Women’s Fellowship”. It was envisaged that the DWF will look into and take care of the advancement of the women in the life and the work of the diocese. Today, this organization not only looks after the women’s ministry in our Diocese, but is actively involved in almost all aspects of church life, including mission.
All confirmed women are eligible to be members of the DWF. All parishes are expected to have a Women’s Fellowship Ministry. Even chapels are encouraged to have Women’s Fellowship branches, to encourage women to help and support God’s work in the local church. The aims of the DWF are as follows:
- To unite women in the worship of God and be obedient to the great commission of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- To unite women in service to the Church.
- To encourage women to accept responsibility in the life and witness of the Church.
- To uphold the sanctity of Christian marriage and family life, and to help mothers in the Christian upbringing of their children.
- To promote fellowship among members of the congregation.
- To assist the Diocese in fund raising and other activities as may be directed to do so by the Bishop or the Diocesan Standing Committee.
(Extracted from the Constitution of the Diocesan Women’s Fellowship Pg 1)
The leader of the Diocesan Women’s Fellowship is the President and she is appointed by the Bishop. Her term of office is up to the Bishop’s discretion. She is assisted by an Executive Committee comprising 4 Vice Presidents; one each for the southern (lower and Upper), central and northern archdeaconries or DWF zones. The Vice Presidents, honorary secretary, honorary treasurer and executive committee members are elected by delegates of WF branches at their biennial assemblies. (The 1st Biennial Assembly was held in 1977) The term of office of the DWF executive committee is two years. All WF branch chairladies form the DWF Board. The Diocesan Bishop is the advisor to the DWF Board.
At the time of writing, the DWF has 107 registered branches from 33 parishes. The total registered membership is about 6000 and is still growing. Considering the fast growth, the DWF was zoned into 4 zones at the 2007 assembly in Saratok. This was done for better fellowship and more effective monitoring and involvement. Coincidentally, the parishes covered in the zones coincide with the current archdeaconries. Since the zoning, WF activities have been better co-ordinated and saw more active participation from branches. Certainly, it has helped to make fellowship among branches more effective.
The DWF is a self-funding ministry. The members raise their own funds to finance their activities. Members of the Women’s Fellowship pay yearly subscriptions of RM2.00 to the Board. Subscription fees are collected to ensure that the DWF is self-funding and therefore need not ask for allocations for their activities from the Diocese. Another reason is so that members are serious about being members of the WF. At the branch levels, they are free to agree on their own fund-raising efforts, provided that these are discussed with members. To date, the DWF has continually contributed towards raising funds for the needs of the diocese and the parishes. Fund raising events by parishes/chapels are almost always participated or even spear-headed by the Women’s Fellowship.
The activities of the Women’s Fellowship are varied and this is to ensure that there is at least an activity or two that can draw appeal to the women who come with varied interests, educational and economic backgrounds. These activities can be divided into the following categories; fellowship activities, fund-raising, spiritual growth, involvements in the life and the work of the Church. In many parishes, the women are not only involved in the Women’s Fellowship but in other church organizations and ministries. Throughout the parishes, the Women’s Fellowship has made important contributions to activities such as,
- Cleaning church linen, sweeping and cleaning the churches/chapels
- Church flower arrangements/decorations
- Embroidery and needlework
- Fund-raising activities eg food sale, dinners
- Church breakfast/ refreshments
- Catering of meals at Diocesan/parish activities
- Helping bereaved families
- Care ministry
- Hospital visitation groups
- Sunday school
- Church choirs
- Fellowship activities eg outreach to rural churches, inter-parish visits
- Physical fitness eg aerobics, dance-exercise sessions
- Bible Study groups
- Spiritual growth eg seminars, retreats
- Helping and supporting other ministries eg the Sunday School, Youth Ministry
Since 1975, the Diocesan Women’s Fellowship has been led by the following Presidents;
- The late Mrs Noreen Khoo
- The late Mrs Susie Kitto
- The late Mrs Serika Ferguson
- Mrs Agnes Lai
- Ms Mitty Chai
- Mrs Nancy Abitt
- Ms Mitty Chai (reappointed after a lapse of two years)
It is hoped that the vibrancy and dynamism of this ministry will be maintained in the years to come, in order that it continues to play an important role in the life and the work of our Diocese.