Updated 05 February 2018

   Linked with Pacong - South Sudan, Kutigi - Nigeria, Southern Nyanza - Kenya, Ijesha North - Nigeria, Karnataka Central - South India

President’s Spring Letter 2017

Conference “Connections”               

Dear Members,

Spring is here and as I write this the trees are beginning to show green buds ready to burst out and the hedges are covered with a veil of green.  The daffodils are practically over and the birds are singing and building their nests.  For us this time of year is a time of preparation for Easter and I know most of you will be attending your local churches for services during Holy Week as we remember that Christ died on the Cross for us.  Good Friday is such a solemn day commemorating his suffering and his death, but then we come to Easter and I pray that you all will all have a blessed and joyous day as we acclaim with the Church “Christ is risen, he is risen indeed.  Alleluia!”

In December we came to the end of our year of celebrating the 140th Anniversary of the MU and we marked this by handing out 5,000 copies of The Well Good News of Christmas, published by the Bible Society and supplied to us for the donation of £1500.  This children’s Nativity booklet telling the greatest story ever told was distributed to children all over the Bristol Diocese by MU members through schools, pre-school playgroups and parent and toddler groups.  A big thank you to all who were involved in this.

However there are a lot of good things happening in the Bristol Diocese.  We now have an active presence at Ashfield Prison in Pucklechurch.  A rota of members from Kingswood and South Glos Deanery are there in the Visitor Centre on Saturday afternoons, serving tea and coffee to the families visiting prisoners, and as many of them have travelled long distances this is becoming quite popular.  The Trustees have also agreed  to help us support the Kingsmeadow Community Flat (in Kingswood) through the donation of toiletries and household cleaning materials for those families who cannot afford them.  There is a particular need for toothbrushes (for adults and children) and toothpaste.  We are asking members to bring donations to the AGM in April.  Last year one of our AFIA coaches took families from Kingsmeadow to Weston-super-Mare for the day which was most successful.

We have been asked by Janet Bacon, a member of Downend Branch, to support a building project in Kumi, Uganda – Janet and her husband Richard have been connected with Kumi for some years and currently have been involved with improving the facilities of the Mothers’ Union Hostel for Girls there, so that the girls may live and do their vocational training on site.  The Trustees agreed to donate funds to this building project from a Reserve Fund held to help MU projects overseas.  

We want to celebrate the fact that Chris Pope, who heads up our Finance and Central Services Unit, was awarded the BEM in March for services to the Community (which, of course, includes the work he does for Mothers’ Union).  This was presented to him by the Lord-Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Sarah Troughton, at a ceremony held at Bowood House.  Congratulations Chris!

Now two invitations for all members!  First I do hope that MU Branches all over the Diocese will take up the challenge issued by Archbishop Justin Welby (see panel below).

The second invitation is to our Annual General Meeting which will be held on Saturday 29th April 2017 in Marshfield Community Centre from 11.00 am – 2.00 pm (coffee & tea served from 10.30 am.  Our Speaker at 11.00 am will be our Provincial President, Nikki Sweatman, who will be able to tell us more about the work of the Board of Trustees as she works closely with Lynne Temby, Worldwide President, and Bev Julienne, our CEO.  Please do come and bring friends with you who want to know more about Mothers’ Union as this is a golden opportunity to hear how our organisation works and what the future holds for us.  We will have a lunch break at 12.00 after Midday Prayers (please bring a packed lunch) followed by the AGM which will include reports on our Projects from 1.00 - 2.00 pm. The Agenda is attached to this letter.

Looking ahead, the Mothers’ Union General Meeting and Service will be held in Edinburgh 29th & 30th September this year – details www.themothersunion.org/general-meeting-2017. Our Annual Council Meeting will be held on 28th October in Marshfield.  In the meantime I commend this year of Faith in Action to your prayers.

With my love and prayers,

Aurea Hart

These last few months have been very busy for me as your President.     I attended the Provincial Conference in October with the 29 other Diocesan Presidents from Canterbury Province. At this meeting we had the opportunity to look at the proposed modernisation of the MU Constitution.  This is an important landmark in the life of Mothers’ Union as this amended constitution will be much shorter, written in more accessible language and will make it easier for our colleagues in other countries to be involved in decision making as adjustments are made to the Board of Trustees and changes in the make-up of Worldwide Council.  Through this consultation we were able to put forward amendments to the wording of some clauses in the Constitution.  The amended version then came to Worldwide Council which was held at An Grianan near Dublin in March which I attended along with about 100 others – Diocesan Presidents, staff from Mary Sumner House and Provincial Presidents from all over the world, representing 24 countries.  The proposed changes were adopted and the amended Constitution will now go to Privy Council for approval.   If all goes to plan the new Constitution will be in place in time for the elections that will take place in 2018.

It is always inspiring to have these opportunities to meet with other Presidents but it also makes me realise how much more we could be doing if only we had more younger members.  However the sad news is that our membership is now at an all-time low of 691 members – down 55 from last year. Also two more branches are closing – Mangotsfield and Fishponds – because they do not have members willing to continue as, or take on, the roles of Branch Leader, Secretary and Treasurer.  I’m glad to say that on the whole members at these branches are becoming Diocesan or IMPC members but when branches close we do lose income for Mary Sumner House and we lose that vital presence in the local church.