Recently Derek and I set off for a holiday in Winchester, chosen so I could include the 140th Anniversary Service in the Cathedral and the AGM at Basingstoke within the holiday. What an amazing experience!
There was an extra service put on in the morning to cater for the large number of members wishing to attend, with Bishops from Aberdeen and Orkney, Basingstoke, Southampton, Winchester and Reading and at our afternoon service also Justin Welby Archbishop of Canterbury, who Celebrated and preached at the Eucharist. ]#
The Cathedral was packed to capacity for our service enhanced by the Mary Sumner Choir from Zambia, flown in specially to be with us, who sang continuously as the cathedral filled up with members from Britain, Ireland and across the world.
Banners from Winchester, Canterbury and Mary Sumner House were in procession, accompanied by Caroline Scull, Winchester Diocesan President, Nikki Sweatman, Provincial President and Worldwide President Lynne Tenby, leading the clergy, staff of Winchester Cathedral and the staff from Mary Sumner House carrying representative tokens from 35 Provincial Mothers’ Unions around the world.
Needless to say the hymns were sung beautifully with great joy by the congregation and choir. We listened to a moving testimony from Neil Obbard, whose life was turned around by the experience of an AFIA holiday.
The Peruvian Gloria was sung while drums and a dance team filled the aisles with waving flags in Peruvian colours. They also entertained members outside before and after the services.
In his sermon Justin Welby drew parallels between the problems Mary Sumner, our Founder, saw in Victorian family life and those of the 21st century. Care, he said, is delivered through the three strategic steps that MU focus on Prayer, Enabling and Campaigning.
Attending the Mothers' Union 140th Anniversary service at Winchester Cathedral
He spoke of the changes in society, the different understanding of family structure, the number of children being nutured by single-parents, usually the mother or sometimes grandmother.
The great army of Mothers’ Union, 4 million strong has accomplished much is this country and abroad. Thus far has God helped. Members, he said, seldom meet in cathedrals, more often in places of poverty, suffering and struggling, like members in South Sudan or Burundi.
And because God loves the poor and week, the closer we are to God, the less we have to fear, for all kinds of people. Persevering prayer focuses on what is needed, lays the needs before God, in silence or in words. It is realistic about where we are, and faithful in looking to God.
So let us continue to pray for our Diocese, members and their needs and remember the many we continue to support abroad. We do make a difference. Thus far has God helped.
For information about Mothers' Union visit our national website www.mothersunion.org, click on the Mothers' Union 140 years logo or visit us on Twitter or Facebook.