(MWA) Away Day

The sun was shining in Fairfield on Saturday 17th April. This is the usual weather which miraculously appears every year on the second Saturday after Easter, the day when the Moravian Women's Association (MWA) holds its annual MWA Day. On this Saturday a year ago, the national lockdown had begun just a few weeks before and I was walking around Fairfield for my daily exercise on a similar sunny morning. I was reflecting on the fact that Fairfield Settlement should soon have been filled with Sisters from all over the Province, preparing to worship together, to have fellowship with one another and to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of MWA. Little did I think that, twelve months later, we would still not have been able to meet with each other in person. It has been a gruelling twelve months for us all but especially for those who live alone and who have had to shield and protect themselves and others from this dreadful virus.

MWA's Executive Committee were determined that our organisation would meet one way or another. We had hoped to hold simultaneous District events but even this idea had to be abandoned in the light of ongoing restrictions so the decision was taken to hold a Zoom service on our usual MWA Day. I confess to a certain amount of worrying about this - Would the technology work? Would people be able to join? Would my internet fail at a vital moment in the service?

Well as it turned out, I needn't have worried at all. The technology did work thanks to the skills of Sr Jane Dixon who put together a series of images interspersed with three hymns chosen by Executive. Everyone who needed to speak was able to join in at the correct moment and the service proceeded smoothly. Sr Sarah Groves delivered an inspirational address based on the current MWA theme: 'Wonder Women! - Then and Now' where she reminded us of the necessity and importance of telling the stories of women. Stories which are often hidden away and not heard, stories which are needed to inspire the wonder women of the future.

The people did join! We had almost 80 Sisters and Brothers at the service. As I admitted people to the Zoom service, it was wonderful to see loved and familiar faces appear before me, faces I have not seen in some cases for a year or even two. I confess that I felt a lump in my throat and happy tears pricking my eyes as I recognised Sisters but also saw the joy in their faces as they saw Sisters they are used to meeting with on an annual basis. In fact, the noise before the service as people attempted to hold conversations with each other was not unlike the usual hubbub before our MWA Day starts.

A wonderful aspect of Zoom services is that there is an opportunity to connect with people who even in more normal times would not have been able to attend the service. We were joined by Brothers and Sisters from India and Br Tin Shwe from Myanmar - and I hope that joining with Christian friends in Britain helped inspire them in their endeavours. We were also joined by Sr Shelagh Connor from her home in the Orkneys!

And finally, my internet did not fail at a vital moment! It ran smoothly with no interruption for which I am very grateful. It was a lovely service. It brought people together from all over the world to share for a short while in our MWA community. Thanks be to God.

Sr Janet Cooper