Mary Sumner – founder of the Mothers’ Union

MARY SUMNER – FOUNDER OF THE MOTHERS UNION

The Mothers’ Union is now more than 140 years old. It has accomplished a staggering amount in that time, and nowadays numbers more than four million members, doing good work in 83 countries. That is a far cry from the modest circle of prayer for mothers who care about family life, which is how it all began with a rector’s wife, Mary Sumner.

Mary was born in late 1828 in Swinton, near Manchester. When she was four, her family moved to Herefordshire. Mary’s father, Thomas Heywood, was a banker and historian. Her mother has been described as a woman of “faith, charm and sympathy” – qualities which Mary certainly inherited. Mrs. Heywood also held informal ‘mothers’ meetings’ at her home to encourage local women. Those meetings may well have inspired Mary’s later work.

Mary was educated at home, spoke three foreign languages, and sang well. While in her late teens, on a visit to Rome she met George Sumner, a son of the Bishop of Winchester. His was a well-connected family: George’s uncle became Archbishop of Canterbury, and his second cousin was William Wilberforce. Mary and George married in July 1848, soon after his ordination. They moved to Old Alresford in 1851 and had three children: Margaret, Louis and George. Mary dedicated herself to raising her children and supporting her husband’s ministry by providing music and Bible classes.

When in 1876 Mary’s eldest daughter Margaret gave birth, Mary was reminded how difficult she had found the burden of motherhood. Soon she decided to hold a meeting to which she invited the local women not only of her own class, but also all the village mothers. Her aim was to find out if women could be brought together to offer each other prayer and mutual support in their roles as wives and mothers. That meeting at Old Alresford Rectory was the inaugural meeting of the Mothers’ Union.

For 11 years, the Mothers’ Union was limited to Old Alresford. Then in 1885 the Bishop of Newcastle invited Mary to address the women churchgoers of the Portsmouth Church Congress, some 20 miles away. Mary gave a passionate speech about the poor state of national morality, and the vital need for women to use their vocation as mothers to change the nation for the better. A number of the women present went back to their parishes to found mothers’ meetings on Sumner’s pattern.

Soon, the Mothers’ union spread to the dioceses of Ely, Exeter, Hereford, Lichfield and Newcastle. By 1892, there were already 60,000 members in 28 dioceses, and by 1900 there were 169,000 members. By the time Mary died in 1921, she had seen MU cross the seas and become an international organization of prayer and good purpose.

Mothers’ Union Report June 2017

On Saturday 20th May we held a Coffee Morning in the Guide Hut. Alongside serving tea, coffee and biscuits we had a cake stall, a tombola, bric-a-brac stall and a raffle. Many thanks to everyone who supported us and those who gave their time to help. We were very pleased to raise £240 for our funds.

Wednesday 7th June was the day of our annual trip. This year around 30 of us went to Port Sunlight on the Wirral and managed to choose the best day of the week weather-wise !

Port Sunlight was founded in 1888 by William Hesketh Lever (later the first Lord Leverhulme) to house the employees of the Lever Brothers’ soap works. The village was created in 130 acres of parkland and has over 900 houses and 14 public buildings. It is one of the finest surviving examples of an industrial garden village in the UK and is a Designated Conservation Area with nearly every building being Grade ll listed.

We arrived at Port Sunlight in time for lunch – having stopped for coffee at an amazing garden centre on the way! After lunch we had a guided tour of the village on the coach, stopping off for a closer look at the United Reformed Church in the village. We then had free time to visit the Art Gallery and the Museum.

The whole day was most enjoyable and many thanks must go to Eileen Shaw for organising the trip.

Our next meeting is on Wednesday 5th July when we will be having a ‘Come and Share’ afternoon, inviting members, if they would like to, to share something with us e.g. a favourite poem, book, memory.

We do not meet during August.

Our September meeting will be on Wednesday 6th September and will be a Communion Service in St Oswald’s Church at 2pm.

Mothers Union Report June

On 3.5.17 Fr John Richardson told us about his life and upbringing and how he came to enter the ministry. We were surprised to learn that Fr John was born in South Africa. However, when he was about 4 years old, he came to this country with his parents and lived in Heaton. He considers himself to be from Newcastle upon Tyne and amused us with the tale of how he once had to prove that he actually was English.

Fr John, whose father was a ship-worker and whose mother worked at the swimming baths, was brought up during the war years. Having passed the eleven plus he attended the grammar school where he passed his “O” levels. On leaving school he started work in an insurance office. That work not being to his taste he left and started work as a disc jockey. Later, aged 26, he went to Ilkley College and took a course in Youth and Community work. It was while he was at college that he first realised that God was calling him.

At around that time he became involved with a church youth group which was where he met the lady who was to become his wife. He got a job at a Youth and Community Centre in Manningham, Bradford, where he worked for 3 to 4 years. He then obtained a job as a part time lecturer and youth worker in Ilkley. Throughout those years he continued to hear God’s call and eventually attended a ministry selection conference. Rather to his surprise he was accepted for training and studied at Carlisle and Blackburn.

He worked part time doing Youth and Community work and, when ordained, worked part time in a parish in Preston. He then became a Parish priest in Preston as well as being a Chaplain at Preston College. He then spent a year in Spain where he worked as a chaplain. In due course he was all set to retire when he went to see Bishop Paul, who advised him to contact Fr David here at Guiseley with Esholt. In due course he joined our clergy team.

Fr John has been married for some 46 years and has two daughters. One of his daughters is a barrister and the other makes films. Fr John concluded his talk by outlining his personal spirituality. He described it as providing living loving care on behalf of a loving God who is an artist rather than an academic. He feels that creation is still forming and growing and that Mission is shown by example. Although God speaks, a large part of the problem is that we, his people, don’t listen.

The MU trip is to Port Sunlight on Wednesday 7th June The next MU meeting is on Wednesday 5th July when the theme is “Come and Share”.

 

Mothers Union Report April 2017

 

The April meeting of the Mothers’ Union held on Wednesday 12th April was a Lenten Meditation in St Oswald’s Church.

On Saturday 25th March some members of our Branch attended the Diocesan Lady Day Service at Bradford Cathedral. The service was very well attended and was presided upon by The Right Reverend Nicholas Baines, Bishop of Leeds, and the Venerable Peter Townley, Archdeacon of Pontefract and Diocesan Chaplain to the Mothers’ Union, gave the address. During the service the new Diocesan Banner was dedicated by the Bishop.

Our speaker at our meeting on Wednesday 3rd May is Reverend John Richardson.

On Saturday 20th May we will hold a Coffee Morning in the Guide Hut from 10:00am to 12:00pm. Tickets will be on sale before the event but it is also possible to pay at the door on the day. Tickets will be £1 to include beverage and biscuits. There will be a Raffle, Tombola and Cake stall. If you would like to donate anything for the stalls please speak to Gwyneth Bassett or any member of the committee. Please do come along and support this event.

Our annual outing will be on Wednesday 7th June and this year we are going to Port Sunlight. The cost will be around £12. Please speak to Eileen Shaw or any committee members if you are interested in going on the trip.

 

Mothers’ Union Report March 2017

The Mothers’ Union held their Annual General Meeting on 1st March.

Father David Guest chaired the meeting for us and it began with a membership service to receive Beryl Barry into the Branch and also to welcome Sue Young who has joined our Branch having re-located from Leicester.

The meeting continued with the formalities of Minutes of last year’s meeting, Treasurer’s Report and Branch Leader’s Report.

The Officers of the committee will continue as before, Gwyneth Bassett being Branch Leader, Judith Archdale Minutes Secretary, Eileen Shaw Social Secretary and Hilary Watson Treasurer. Other members of the committee are Bridget Hopkinson and Lynn Pickering. Mollie Barber has resigned from the committee having been on 6 years and Georgina Stockwell agreed to join the committee.

Future dates for our diaries are:-

April 12th – Lent meditation in St Oswald’s Church at 2:00pm

May 20th – Coffee Morning in the Guide Hut 10:00am to 12:00pm.

June 7th –   Trip to Port Sunlight. More details of this to follow. Anyone wishing to go should give their name to Eileen Shaw.

As usual tea and biscuits were served at the end of the meeting.