Celebrating 140 years of Mothers’ Union Worldwide

In its 140th Year, Mothers’ Union is a thriving global Christian movement, with over 4 million members in 83 countries, who collectively touched the lives of over 500,000 in 2015 through practical actions, great and small, from providing meals to the hungry to supporting whole communities to lift themselves out of poverty.

The Mothers’ Union story began in 1876 in the Parish of Old Alresford, Winchester Diocese in England. Mary Elizabeth Sumner, the wife of the then Rector of that Parish, and mother of three was very aware of the burdens and responsibilities of parenting. Recognising that good parenting was more than providing for the physical needs of the child, she believed that the primary responsibility was to raise children in the love of God.

A meeting of some 30-40 people was called and so MU was born. From those humble beginnings, by 1900 there were some 170,000 members, in the UK, India, Madagascar, and Hong Kong. The words of Mary Sumner, ” To win the homes of the nation for Christ, rich homes, and poor homes, all alike, must be won for God! It is a call to every one of us to live in prayer that His help, His blessings, and His inspiration may rest upon our earnest efforts. “

In its 140th Year, Mothers’ Union is a thriving global Christian movement, with over 4 million members in 83 countries, who collectively touched the lives of over 500,000 in 2015 through practical actions, great and small, from providing meals to the hungry to supporting whole communities to lift themselves out of poverty. Membership is open to all who have been baptised in the Trinity, not only mothers, but single women, and yes, even men are members.

Mary Sumner House in London is the Central Office. MU, at the worldwide level, has representatives on the United Nations Consultative Council and is able to address issues concerning families and women.

A Disaster Relief Fund is available from Australia Council (AC), to all Dioceses. Should a disaster occur all it takes is a phone call. AC is very prompt to assist people following natural disasters.

In 1892, the first Australian meeting was held in Cullenswood Tasmania. Next year there will be great celebrations for 125 years of MU in Australia.

Newcastle Diocese has 40 branches, and 2 Caritas branches, Lone Members fluctuate between 30-40, totalling approx.730 members. Our Executive has 24 positions, and each holding a specific role.

The Purpose of Mothers’ Union is to be especially concerned with all that strengthens and preserves marriage and Christian family life. The Aim is the advancement of the Christian religion in the sphere of marriage and family life. MU Australia Mission Statement: Sharing Christ’s love by encouraging, strengthening and supporting marriage and family life.

Lady Day March 25, is a very special day for MU. Mary, Mother of our Lord, is our Patron Saint. The annual service at the Cathedral is a magnificent worship service. Most branch banners are represented and processed around the Cathedral. The Bishop presides and we have a special Preacher and Guest Speaker.

This celebration began in 1922 and was known as the Annual Festival. The first Lady Day was in wartime 1942, and relevant minutes tell that the service was poorly attended with 400 people. (Today we number around 200 and think that is marvellous). It was told that because of the noise of ladies chatter, two ladies had to walk up the aisles with SILENCE signs. Uniforms of white frocks and white veils were worn in bygone days.

Other days of importance to MU are the Overseas & Northern Outreach luncheons, one at New Lambton, and the other on the Central Coast. This is a wonderful opportunity for branches to do something special for Mission projects both within Australia and Overseas. Mary Sumner Day falls on the August 9, and is commemorated on this day. Many branches take this opportunity in their parishes, or on the nearest Sunday to “fly the flag” for MU, with some form of promotion or prayers.

Branches are involved in Baptism Ministry, sometimes with interviews and also being represented at the Baptism service. A small gift, along with MU Baptism Kits are presented. These Baptism Kits are very widely used over the Diocese. (These are readily available should you like to use them).

Endeavouring to carry out our Objects especially the fifth which states “To help those whose family life has met with adversity”, we have hospital visitors throughout the Diocese. Visitors are rostered on at John Hunter and other hospitals throughout the Diocese. Our hospital visiting co-ordinator is kept busy making baby bundles for the JHH, Maitland, Gosford hospitals and various Women’s Refuges around Newcastle and Maitland. Other country hospitals also receive these from the local branches. These are made possible by the generosity of members of MU across the Diocese. Items include clothing for newborns, and also a towel, bunny rugs, a crocheted blanket, etc. Presently we are making 60 humidicrib covers for the new NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) at the John Hunter Hospital which they hope will open late August. This is a wonderful opportunity to use our skills and be able to finance this for them. We are able to annually donate $5000 to NICU for incidentals, which their funding does not cover. This is raised by selling Christmas and general cards over the year.

Other ministries include making comfort cushions for breast cancer patients and providing toiletry packs for hospital patients in emergency situations. We also supply Samaritans with bathroom/ toiletry packs for those who live out of their cars. These are for females, males and also families. The packs include everything required for showering, towel, soap, toothpaste, razors, combs etc. We are told that these packs are needed more and more. We have also been told that there is only one beach that has hot showers, and this has become a meeting place for some of these less fortunate people.

Coffee and Care is another outreach provided by MU members. This provides an opportunity for those who attend the courts with children, or grandchildren to debrief and have a chat with someone with a listening ear. The court officials also appreciate this ministry.

Everything MU does is undergirded with prayer, which is the most important aspect of Mothers’ Union. In some circles we are known as the power house of prayer. We have heard and witnessed some amazing things in MU over the years. We thank God that he is so good and praise him for our membership in such a wonderful worldwide organisation.

The Archbishop of Canterbury says, “In so many parts of the world, the Mothers’ Union is an organisation that LISTENS to the voices of weeping. Nine-tenths of the work of members is hidden from view, in the parishes and the dioceses, in the hills and the villages, doing the work of bringing hope, of strengthening families, of supporting churches and transforming communities.”

If you would like any more information about Mothers Union please contact Laurel Brook, Diocesan President, email lolart2@bigpond.com