Ton-forty for MU!

by Gerry Lynch last modified 27 Jan, 2016 04:43 PM

The world's leading Anglican women's organisation celebrates its 140th anniversary

This year will see Mothers’ Union mark 140 years of faithful Christian outreach to families of all faiths and none. Since 1876, when Mary Sumner first brought together parents in her own parish to build their confidence in bringing up their children, MU has grown to an organisation of over four million women – and men – in over 80 countries across the world.

The new Mothers’ Union Diocesan President, Rosie Stiven, says, “The 140th Anniversary celebrates our mission to provide Christian care for families throughout the world. This is made possible by a global membership measured in the millions.

“Our foundress, Mary Sumner, recognised the real concerns and needs of families who were living in her husband’s parish near Winchester. She set out to build their confidence in bringing up their children and so began her work of Christian care for families, which the Mothers’ Union continues today.

“At the very beginning of our anniversary year, we celebrated the opening of the Court Café in Salisbury, staffed by a willing team of Mothers’ Union volunteers and supporters. This project is a wonderful example of Mary Sumner’s vision in action which was ‘to touch as many lives as possible’ in order to bring Christian care to all’.“

The Diocesan Service of Thanksgiving for the anniversary will take place in Salisbury Cathedral on 16 April. Some new project work will also be launched locally during 2016: a Court Café, which has just opened at Salisbury Law Courts, providing a place of calm and refreshment in what is often a stressful environment; and, Safe Spaces, which enables local communities to gather together to support survivors of domestic violence.

The Virtual Baby Project, which has run successfully for many years,  ontinues to grow and impact the lives of teenagers, with two new schools taking part for the first time this year with another two enquiring schools. Mothers' Union in the Avon Valley is running a session for parents in Durrington Junior School following consultation about which issues concern parents most in relation to their children. 

This year over 500,000 people across England will benefit from Mothers’ Union’s support for family life. Many more will know the support of MU members without any tally being taken – because not in their daily lives, MU members support families in prayer, in voicing their support for policy changes and in their practical support. 

Why celebrate 140th, rather than wait for 150th? In the Old Testament of the Bible, in the first book of Samuel, there is the story of Samuel marking an unlooked for victory against the mighty Philistines by erecting a stone between Mizpah and Shen, naming it “Ebenezer” meaning “stone of help” as a permanent reminder of the leading and guidance of God “Thus far has the Lord helped us”. 

Over the past 140 years, Mothers’ Union has faced, and will continue to face, many challenges. Family life is under increasing pressure and the call on our resources is higher than ever. But members and others can look at how they are meeting these challenges and say, like Samuel, “Thus far has the Lord helped us.”

There has never been a more challenging, or more exciting time to be part of Mothers’ Union. MU hopes to train more members to help more families; to encourage greater outreach across those countries and communities where family life is under greatest threat. If you would like to support Mothers’ Union in bringing positive change to family life through its work, locally or worldwide, contact the Diocesan MU office on 01722 333 402 or .

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