|PIC1|The theme was "Clothed in Christ" and the theme passage was Colossians 1:12-16.
The Opening Celebration was a colourful pageant as ladies dressed in their national costumes brought their national banners to the front of the hall.
Over the next two days each nation described and displayed the ministries of the Baptist Women in their land. Countries participating included Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Fiji, West Papua (Papua Indonesia) and Australia. It had been hoped that women from Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands would also be present but unfortunately that was not possible.
At the business session on Saturday afternoon the outgoing committee of the BWUSWP was thanked and the new committee was welcomed in â€" President: Julie Belding NZ; Vice President: Kaa Simon PNG; Secretary: Anne MacCarthy NZ; Treasurer: Judith Searle, Australia.
Outgoing President Lorraine Walker (Qld, Australia) spoke of the work of the Baptist women in Australia and NZ teaching conversational English using the bible as a textbook, and helping and supporting new immigrants and refugees. She spoke of PNG where the birthing hut and water tank project coordinated by Kaa Simon has changed the lives of women and children. And she spoke of the sewing project in Fiji, called Lydia's Sewing Room, begun with money from the Women's Day of Prayer, which provides funds for food and clothing for struggling families.
Lorraine told the women. "We have a commission from God Himself to present the unchanging but life-changing, message of Christ."
On Saturday night the women visited Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Centre for dinner and a program of Aboriginal dances and music and a fire lighting ceremony.
Each day began with a prayer meeting and most sessions included music and worship times.
On Sunday evening Dorothy Selebano from South Africa, the Baptist World Alliance Women's Department World President spoke. In a passionate message much appreciated by her audience she said, "You are all unique individuals. You are loved. You are important in the eyes of God. You are part of God's body and if you do not do your part the body will not function properly.
"It is your job to see you are living a holy life. You are the light of God and wherever you are, you must shine so people can see the light of salvation. It does not matter what you are going through because God is always with you. So shine in the midst of trials and temptations. Serve the Lord through the challenges. It may not be easy but God is always with us. So put on Christ and demonstrate His beauty."
Cairns, in Australia's far north, is a tropical, multicultural city of 150,000 people. Each month in Cairns about fifty people are welcomed as Australian citizens.