MU 140th anniversary
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St George’s News - Waterlooville’s Parish Magazine

The Website for St George’s Church, Waterlooville and its Parish Magazine St George’s News

Christmas 2016 issue

The Mothers’ Union 140th Anniversary Celebrations

Members of St George’s Mothers’ Union took part on September 22nd and 23rd 2016 in a Celebration of Faith, respectively, in Winchester and Basingstoke to mark their 140th Anniversary. How many organisations have our congregation members supported, who can look back on 140 years? Why, even treasured Regiments have disappeared or for others, perhaps like me, the walking group, Country-Wide Holiday Association with its roots dating back to 1891.

This article thus hopes to draw attention indirectly to the praise heaped on the MU by many senior clergy and lay leaders for the work it does daily, not only in the UK but also in 83 other nations. Members wish to win and share in your respect.

On Thursday, there were two services held in Winchester Cathedral, with a morning one and afternoon one at both of which Bishops officiated, particularly the Archbishop of Canterbury for the second service. Here too the Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Mr Nigel Atkinson represented the MU Patron, the Queen. Worship was supported by the Mary Sumner Choir from Zambia. During the service a speaker referred to experiences on an AFIA (away from it all) holiday that led to membership. Similarly, one of the procession deacons, the Rev’d Katie Lawrence was so impressed with events she asked to be enrolled and was there and then. There were some 4,000 worshippers. Notably, the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke freely with people as they left as well as sharing in the peace. Of interest, it rained a little in the morning but otherwise it was dry, no doubt to the relief of many.

Travelling to Basingstoke meant an early start at 7am in order to be sure to arrive in good time. The destination was the Hampshire Court Hotel with a conference room facility to seat a large number of guests maybe 1,000. We were advised to take our own refreshment. We followed the General Meeting Programme and worship led by the Bishop of Reading and General Central Chaplain to Mothers’ Union, the Right Rev’d Andrew Proud. It commenced with the Mothers’ Union Story presented by the Saltmine Mine Theatre Company. In the audience was the author, who had a wonderful job bringing to life Mary Sumner’s life through the excellent performance by the small theatre group. Later, in the session a suggestion was made from the Chair whether a DVD would find favour, there was an overwhelming positive response and promises were made to look into the possibility. Clearly it would be great to hold a congregation showing. The Worldwide President Lynne Tembey outlined movingly her year, travelling to many geographic areas some where conflict exists. As if it were an everyday event, one visit to Africa coincided with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s and was instrumental in extending an invitation to the Mary Sumner choir to perform at the 140th celebrations. We were welcomed by the Mayor of Basingstoke who said during her term of office, she has been invited to a newly founded branch of MU, a first for Basingstoke. Since her son is currently the deputy mayor she will be sharing with him their chaplain over two years and is anticipating being drawn more into MU becoming a member. This is the second example from outreach.

We took a break for lunch finding somewhere picnic style to eat, again fortunately on a dry warm day. Daniel McAllister, Head of Fundraising and Communication, two years into his post was able to show us the recent release of a film in which ordinary members reiterated their approach to helping their local community; there are to be two more films to be released shortly and sent to every branch. Mentally we were able to tick off some of the things our branch does such as toiletries for people in need, through knitting garments for neo-natal babies and in the past at Kingston prison supplying refreshments and toys for visiting families. The National Toymakers Association has pledged to supply toys to MU groups in support of this activity.

We then heard from the relatively newly appointed MU Chief Executive, Mrs Beverley Jullien, a former executive in the Pharmaceutical Industry as well as Education Sectors and a leading light in the vanguard of women at senior boardroom level. Originally, not an MU Member but is now; clearly adventurous having taken part in a Sky dive fundraising activity. She shared with us her thoughts through the medium of printed coloured cards entitled Dawn, Autumn and Sunset how MU might look during its 150 years celebrations. The response was immediate with the membership opting for Dawn on the yellow card. In 2017, under the banner Faith in Action, members wish to highlight the ways in which they already live their faith through action and to explore new ways still relevant to present day social needs. This is not a new concept but has always been at the heart of their mission. We are encouraged to refer to ourselves as MU and it is used in the email address. We hope your interest has been stimulated and we can share more in some specific projects using the resources perhaps of Tweenies, for example.

written by Andrew Clark