Mothers' Union marks 140th anniversary

Published on: 28 May 2016

What on earth is the Mothers’ Union and what do they do in Downend? Over four million members, both men and women, belong to this worldwide organisation which works in over 80 countries of the world, promoting stable marriage, family life and the protection of children through praying, enabling and campaigning.
The Mothers’ Union is the world’s largest lay Christian membership charity and this year marks 140 years of faithful outreach to families of all faiths and none.  It all started in 1876, when Mary Sumner first brought together parents in her own Hampshire parish to build their confidence in bringing up their children.
There are Mothers’ Union branches attached to several of the local churches including Christ Church Downend. The Downend branch was founded in 1929.
In April the Downend branch of the Mothers’ Union received a visit from Bishop Sheldon from Uganda and his wife Mama Alice. Mama Alice is the President of the Mothers’ Union in Ankole Diocese in Uganda.
We are always ready to welcome new members. Anyone interested can find out more about the Mothers’ Union by visiting the main website http://www.mothersunion.org/about-us or our own Diocesan website http://www.mu-bristol.co.uk/  On the first Wednesday of the month at 2.15pm there is a Mothers’ Union Meeting in Christ Church Parish Hall, and new members are always welcome.  The next MU meeting in Downend is on Wednesday  June 1 at 2.15pm at Christ Church Parish Hall, and the Annual MU day out is on Wednesday June 8 to Tintern Abbey Mill and the Wye Valley. For futher information on the trip please contact Christ Church Parish Office on 01179089867
Knitting
This year the Mothers’ Union is celebrating its 140th Anniversary. There was a Celebration Service in Bristol Cathedral on Saturday  April 23 with the Bishop of Bristol presiding, the Lord Mayor of Bristol and the Mayor of Chippenham were also in attendance. The Mothers’ Union was first established in the Bristol Diocese in 1898 when there were 12 Branches and around 400 members. Today there are 34 branches and 720 members.
Members support our Diocesan Projects either by volunteering or by raising funds and giving donations.  There are 82 members who volunteer to be at Bristol Cathedral so every week day visitors are met and made welcome by MU members.  
MU members started the Friends for Parents scheme at Bristol Children’s Hospital providing a friendly face, supplies of tea and coffee and practical help for parents who arrive from all over the country.  Donations of toys, clothes, sometimes furnishings (for the RISE project in Chippenham), tea and coffee (for Friends for Parents in Bristol Children’s Hospital), rice and tins of fish (Asylum Seekers in Bristol) come from all over the Diocese and many members are busy knitting children’s jumpers to go overseas to orphanages, to refugees and others in need.
This year the Mothers’ Union will provide coaches for a day by the sea for families from deprived areas across the Diocese, meaning that children who’ve never previously seen the sea will enjoy a day at the seaside.
Barbara Tooby

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