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Mothers’ Union celebrates 140th anniversary

Posted on: January 5, 2016 4:02 PM

[ACNS] The Anglican mission agency Mothers’ Union is celebrating its 140th anniversary in 2016. Throughout the year it will hold a number of events to mark 14 decades of “faithful outreach to families of all faiths and none.”

The Mothers Union was formed in 1876, when Mary Sumner brought together parents in her own Hampshire parish to build their confidence in bringing up their children. Since then it has grown to an organisation of over four million women – and men – in over 80 countries of the world and continues to encourage parents in looking after children, not only physically and mentally but also spiritually. From the outset, the Mothers’ Union recognised that strong relationships and the role of family, however defined, are crucial in building healthy communities.

“Whilst the ways in which we operate to fulfil that need may be different from that of the world of the 19th century, our vision today is still of a world where God’s love is shown through loving, respectful, and flourishing relationships. This is the essence of our work,” the agency says on its website. “We aim to show our Christian faith by the transformation of communities worldwide. We can do this through the promotion of stable marriage, family life and the protection of children. This is our mission. It is what we aim to achieve.”

“In the first book of Samuel he marks an unlooked for victory against the mighty Philistines by erecting a stone, 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,’” a spokesman said. “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 charitable resources is higher today than ever before. But we can look at how we are meeting these challenges and say, like Samuel, ‘Thus far has the Lord helped us.’”

A special anniversary celebration service will be held at Winchester Cathedral, England, on 22 September – where the Mothers’ Union was founded; and service resources are being made available to help local churches hold their own Mother Union anniversary services on Mothering Sunday (6 March), Lady Day (4 April), and Mary Sumner Day (9 August).

The Mothers’ Union has also set itself a fundraising challenge of £1.4 million to support is work providing practical action to support 500,000 throughout the year.

  • The Mothers’ Union is engaged in daily prayer for next week’s Primates Meeting. On its website, the agency says: “Whilst Mothers’ Union is an autonomous organisation, our close fellowship and shared mission in many parts of the world mean that the meeting of the Primates of the Communion which will be held in Canterbury, UK, 11 – 16 January, will be held in the hearts of all Mothers’ Unions around the world. Therefore, please join us in prayer as we pray daily for the Bishops and Archbishops attending the meeting.”

    The Mothers’ Union has published its own prayers as well as linking to the litany for the Primates Meeting prepared by the Anglican Communion secretary general, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon.