When I joined Mothers’ Union some 18 months ago, we were just preparing to celebrate our 140th Anniversary. This gave me the opportunity to discover much about the history – which is impressive! By living out her ‘Faith in Action’, our founder, Mary Sumner, campaigned on major issues for the family of her time, including increasing the minimum age of marriage for girls from 12 to 16, and banning families from sending children into pubs to collect (and consume) beer. Today, a movement with over four million members in over 80 countries worldwide, Mary Sumner would be astonished and humbled to know that MU members make a difference to the lives of over half a million people each year.
Our vision is to extend that impact to reach over a million people in families and communities across the globe, and ensure the voice of the four million is heard, as a powerful force for social change in the twenty-first century. So in 2017, we are focussing on “walking in Mary Sumner’s footsteps”, and Mothers’ Union leaders from all over the world are coming together in March to start to shape that journey together.
We will be exploring, for example, the unique role which Mothers’ Union can play as a force for ‘Peace and Reconciliation’, whether it is family and community relationships at grassroots level, highlighting and petitioning against gender based violence, supporting the displaced and victims of conflict, or using our voice at the United Nations and with governments, to campaign for change.
Prayer is at the heart of all we do, and we are delighted to answer the call of Archbishop Justin to take part in Thy Kingdom Come – members across the world will take part, seeking especially to help families to discover prayer together.
And we will be continuing our mission to help communities to lift themselves for ever out of poverty – whether through realising what they can achieve with their own resources (via our Church Community Mobilisation programme), teaching reading, writing and numeracy skills, or facilitating setting up of savings and credit groups, in areas unable to access bank loans.
Mary Sumner died in 1921 but her legacy lives on in the millions of Mothers’ Union members around the world, who are getting on and doing what is needed to change lives and reshape communities – long may they continue!
Beverley Jullien, Chief Executive of Mothers' Union