A new local expression of the Mothers’ Union has been formed in Latin America, under the name Amare – Agrupación de Mujeres Anglicanas Renovadas en el Espíritu (Anglican Women Renewed in the Spirit). The word Amare means “I will love” and the group is described as more of a movement than an organisation. Unlike its counterparts in Africa, the Mothers’ Union in southern America is not yet very large or significant; but the embryonic group has just held its first training event and looks set to increase its growth.
Amare began in the Diocese of Northern Argentina, and last month the group brought together women from there, and from the dioceses of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Peru to reflect on Amare’s development in the region. More than 60 women – including some from the indigenous Wichi and Toba peoples – gathered at the Anglican retreat centre in La Caldera village, near Salta. Together, the group assessed the challenges faced in developing this new approach to family and women’s work in the different dioceses.
The meeting in La Caldera sprang from a regional Mothers’ Union training event for the Americas held in October in the Caribbean. That event was part of the global initiative MULOA – Mothers’ Union Listen Observe Act – which is designed to help MU groups to “explore the essence of what it is to be Mothers’ Union, and how we can uniquely contribute to making a real difference to people’s lives.” The MULOA process is running until Spring 2019 around the world in the 600 dioceses that the MU is active in. The process will help to prepare a global strategy for the MU beyond 2020.
“We are so excited that South America is playing a bigger part,” regional co-ordinator Sheran Harper said. “They have so much to share, as well as learn, and they bring excitement to the process!”
The creation of Amare in Northern Argentina as a Latin American expression of the Mothers’ Union follows the creation of Ama – Asociacion de Mujeres Anglicanas (Association of Anglican Women) – in Peru.
The work of Mothers’ Union is not totally new to the region. In the 1930s a branch was established in Northern Argentina, and more recently in Uruguay and Peru. But it was the development of Amare in 2014, which led to a transformation and growth of the present-day vision.
“From the start, Amare has been envisioned more as a lifestyle, or commitment, than as an organisation or activity,” the Bishop of Northern Argentina, Nick Drayson, said.
“The emphasis, and indeed the values, espoused by membership are to do with ‘Love in Action’,” he said. “This is worked out in the family, the church and the community through lifestyle choices, much in the way that a religious order works. The process of becoming a member includes an act of forgiveness, which intentionally sets the standard for future action.”
Amare was officially affiliated to the Mothers’ Union in 2014 and has since grown to around 1,500 members in two years. It is empowering women to find their role and their voice in the church, and more importantly in the family and the community. Bishop Nick said that last month’s workshop “is encouraging women in neighbouring dioceses to form a similar network of groups, both for empowering women, and enabling better parenting.
“Whilst there are plenty of women’s activities in many churches, the experience of Amare, and the vision it has given to Latin American women, is also helping grow disciples in the family, and providing the opportunity for discerning cooperation in the future.”