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Monday, 30 October 2017

Comings and Goings and Connections

by Michael Ford last modified 30 Oct, 2017 12:08 PM

An update from Mothers’ Union for September and October 2017, from Diocesan President Rosie Stiven.

[Gentle reminder: don't forget, it's the 16 Days Service on Tuesday 5 December at Salisbury Cathedral. Save the date! More here. ]

It’s been a little while since I wrote to you, so I thought you would like to know about Mothers’ Union activities over the last two months.

As September got underway I joined members in celebrating a Celtic Eucharist led by Sister Anne Marie. This was such a treat as not only did we meet in the beautiful church of St George in Fordington, near Dorchester, but we were also given an illustrated talk by Sister Anne Marie about the symbolism of Celtic art and the meaning of the Celtic Circle Prayer. This was a truly inspiring and enlightening Service and it was a wonderful moment for members to be able to share in this fellowship. Thank you so much for inviting me to join you for this memorable afternoon.

Celtic Eucharist [Sep 2017]

The following week, Jenny (Diocesan Secretary), Suzanne (Diocesan Treasurer) and I were invited to join Deanery members and members of Urchfont with Stert Branch in celebrating the 95th Anniversary of their Branch. We knew this would be a very special day as we were asked to wear our posh hats for the occasion! Having been established since 1922, Urchfont with Stert Branch really had something to celebrate. It was a truly enjoyable occasion with a delicious lunch provided in the Village Hall and a beautiful cake made especially for the occasion which was perfectly cut by Evelyn Grant. My thanks to Louise Woolley and all her team for what was a splendid day and we are all now looking forward to celebrating their centenary.

Urchfont 95th [Sep 2017]

On Sunday 24 September, having been kindly invited by Revd Joanna Davis, I spoke about Mothers’ Union to the pupils and staff of Milton Abbey School during their Morning Service. Jo, thank you for inviting me to speak – it was delightful to meet staff and pupils in your beautiful School and your guided tour of those exquisite buildings was inspiring. I feel that Mothers’ Union is very closely connected to Milton Abbey School as the leader of our AFIA Holiday Programme, Ian Bromilow, is also Chairman of the Board.

I don’t know how many of you have visited Old Alresford Place, the home of our foundress, Mary Sumner? This was a real treat for me as I joined our Provincial President, Nikki Sweatman, her husband, John, together with the Diocesan President of Winchester, Caroline Scull, in helping to host our 9 Mothers’ Union members from Uganda who were visiting Mothers’ Union in UK. What a wonderful experience it was to talk with them and hear about their work in Uganda. We were delighted to be welcomed by the members of the local Mothers’ Union Branch and were treated to a most informative talk in St Mary the Virgin Parish Church where Mary Sumner’s husband, George, had been the Rector.

Ugandans at Old Alresford Place [Sep 2017]

Our Ugandan sisters continued on their way, visiting Mary Sumner’s grave in Winchester, Mary Sumner House in London and finally, making their way up to Edinburgh for our Annual General Meeting. This was a very grand affair. Members from Mothers’ Union descended upon Edinburgh from as far afield as Trinidad and Tobago! Our gathering opened with two Festal Evensongs for St Michael and All Angels held in St Mary’s Cathedral and in St John’s Church simultaneously - there were too many of us to fit into one Cathedral!

I was fortunate to attend the Service in St Mary’s Cathedral where The Most Revd Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross & Caithness, Primus of The Scottish Episcopal Church, gave an inspiring Sermon about Angels and encouraged all members to be angelic in their work.

After a wonderful evening of ‘A Taste of Scotland & Ceilidh Celebration’ spent in the company of members from all dioceses, it was down to work on the following day. The theme for the Conference was ‘Peace and Reconciliation’. Our keynote speaker was Canon Sarah Snyder, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Advisor on Reconciliation. In her address, she spoke about her work around the world and brought it home by explaining that ‘one of the most powerful tools for reconciliation is to show hospitality – not just to our friends, but to those outside our comfort zone’ - some strong words to think about and to act upon.

AGM Auditorium [Sep 2017]

And so, it was with Sarah’s powerful words ringing in my ears, that I addressed our Annual General Meeting and Autumn Council on 14 October in Market Lavington. We began our day with a celebration of the Eucharist led by Revd Jacqui Clark, MU Chaplain. Autumn Council provided members with the opportunity to say a final farewell and thank you to Joanne Triffitt who joined us at the beginning of the day. Joanne, we thank you for your all your work and support over the last seven years and wish you every success in your new post.

This was Laura Kachale’s first Council meeting as our new Development Coordinator, and so we welcomed her and members took the opportunity to talk and meet with her also. Our keynote speaker was the Diocesan President for The Children’s Society, Mrs Mary Gange, who told us more about the partnership between The Children’s Society and Mothers’ Union, as we work together to support young refugees in this country. Thank you Mary, for an informative and thought provoking talk.

Although we had a very full agenda for the day there was some light relief when we held the Draw for the beautiful handmade Blanket. The Blanket had been kindly donated by Ann Hindley of Wilton Branch in memory of her late sister. Suzanne was the proud winner on the day and the Draw raised £85 for our projects. Ann, your very kind gesture was greatly appreciated by everyone and you can rest assured that your lovely Blanket has gone to a good home.

The Blanket [Oct 2017]

I am most grateful to Carole Jones and her team for keeping us going with all those lovely refreshments!

Of course, November and December herald two major events in the calendar for Mothers’ Union. From 25 November to 10 December we focus upon the 16 Days of Activism Campaign Against Gender Based Violence. Please put the date for our Special Service of Eucharist led by Revd Jo Naish and Revd Jacqui Clark in your diary. It is


The Service is the focus for all our thoughts and activities during the Campaign and is a real highlight. Please come and support us and bring as many friends as you can. We are making our usual collection for the Salisbury Women’s Refuge at the Service. The Refuge needs donations of household cleaning materials, pyjamas and slippers for adults and children and also knitting wool. All donated items will be taken to the Refuge after the Service.

Our second project which swings into action during the lead up to Christmas, is The Angel Tree Project. Already, branches involved with Guy’s Marsh and Erlestoke Prisons are planning their wrapping and parcelling days for December. Last year, 79 children received Christmas presents – so we have quite a challenge before us. Many thanks to those teams who give so much time and energy to making this project so successful.

I look forward to seeing you in the Cathedral on Tuesday 5 December at 12 noon.

Rosie Stiven


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