Updated 06 November 2017

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


28th OCTOBER 2017

PREBefore reporting on my activities I must first minute my thanks to Rev Ness Whiffin who was our Faith Trustee until she took up the appointment as Team Vicar in Witney.  Quite a few of us were able to attend her licensing in September.  I also want to say how much I’ve appreciated Mary Head’s support since I took over as President.  She’s one of the busiest people I know running so much for her parish as well as for MU so I was very happy for her to take some time out as she has been struggling with health issues as well as looking after her sister for so long.  In her absence, II will oversee A & O but we really need to find a permanent replacement.

With Ness leaving, our Chaplain, Rev Janet Anderson Mackenzie asked if it would be possible to find someone to be Assistant Chaplain to fill the gap left by Ness and Bishop Mike put us in touch with Rev Anika Gardiner, Curate in Warmley, Siston and Bitton.  She has met the Trustees and spoken to Ness and I’m pleased to say she has accepted the role.  However, both Janet and Anika give their apologies as they can’t be with us today – half term!

Since the AGM in April: I have visited the Bristol Children’s Hospital with Gill Wilding and so now better understand what the volunteers are doing.  I heard from some parents how much they value being able to stop for a hot drink when they need a break from the ward. Since then I attended their 30th Birthday Celebration on 3rd October.  The suggestion has been made to Margaret Hendy, DP Bath and Wells, that some of her members from West Bristol might be interested in volunteering for this project – there is already a MU member from Nailsea on the Chaplaincy Team but so far no volunteers for FfP.

One of the most exciting events for me this summer was having the privilege to attend a Buckingham Palace Garden Party as one of five Diocesan Presidents – you may have seen the photo in Families First.  I’ve attended the Deanery Festival Service for Kingswood and S.Glos at St Saviour’s, Coalpit Heath and Chris and I went to the Deanery Lunch for Bristol West on Mary Sumner Day at Horfield. This was a delightful occasion with about 80 attendees. Unfortunately that meant I was unable to be with Kingsglo at Dyrham and missed the Swindon Deanery Festival at Lydiard Tregoze.  I also went on one of the coach outings to Weston, with the group from Kingsmeadow flats.  Though nearly 70 had booked to go on the coach only 32 turned up, but this only goes to highlight the problems some families are having that they were unable to organise themselves to join what was basically a free day out.  It also shows what a difference personal involvement can make.  Earlier in the week when a couple of families didn’t turn up to catch the coach going from The RISE project, Pam Mills who has got to know the families whizzed off in her car to round them up and met the coach further down the motorway at Junction 18.  This is the level of involvement and support these families need.

As we look to next year and the possibility of sending more coaches to Weston we really want to review what we are doing.  We would like to see a coach going from every Deanery – this summer they went from The RISE in Chippenham Deanery, Kingsmeadow in Kingswood & South Glos, the Pinehurst Estate and SUST in Swindon.  We know there are deprived areas in every Deanery but we need local members to get involved in approaching people working with these families and helping them to organise the coach trip.  Please do pray about this and contact Rosemary Thomas     if you have any ideas.  We also need to find another coach firm to provide the transport (preferably at a discounted rate) as our local one which we have used for the last few years is closing down.  Any ideas to Rosemary or Pam Mills please.

Sadly another branch has closed – we had a ‘Moving On’ service at St Martin’s Knowle in July marking the fact that most members would transfer to St Barnabas, Knowle. Also the branch at St Mary’s Fishponds is closing in October (final service on 31st) but their members will mainly become IMPC members with a link to Downend Branch.  Some members from both branches might become Diocesan members.  

As well as attending the Provincial Conference in June,     I met up with the other DPs in our Cluster Group in July in Exeter.  It’s an opportunity for us to share problems and solutions when we meet, and it’s a great social affair as we all get on so well.  Most of us met again in Edinburgh  at the Festal Evensong and General Meeting at the end of last month    – but I will be reporting on that after lunch.  When we met we talked about the possibility of having inter-diocesan visits – Portsmouth sent a group to Salisbury for an outing which was very successful.  I suggest we invite other Dioceses to join us for the Cathedral Service for Lady Day in April 2018 when Lynne Tembey our Worldwide President is with us.

I know many members attended services for Thy Kingdom Come in the ten days leading up to Pentecost. Some of us were able to take part in the service that was streamed from Hull with Lynne Tembey as the speaker.  We had copies of the order of service and were able to participate fully in the worship, singing the hymns along with the congregation in Hull. The wonders of modern technology!

Perhaps this is a good time to talk about the Members’ Database that Mothers’ Union is currently compiling and asking every Diocese to assist by providing some essential information.  You may remember that when Nicky Sweatman, our Provincial President, was with us in April she told us that the Charity Commissioners were telling Mothers’ Union that they should know who are members are – numbers are not sufficient.  The Trustees have been presented with a vast spreadsheet to complete and return to Mary Sumner House.  The Mothers’ Union is investing  a very large sum in this project but it will only work if we in the Dioceses are prepared to send the necessary information.  Therefore your Trustees have compiled a spreadsheet asking for just the essential information.      A copy is on the screen and a printed copy of this is in the Branch envelopes. We ask that it is completed as next year’s subs are collected.  Each branch should then send the completed form to their Deanery Leader who will make sure it is passed on safely to one person who will be responsible for keeping our Diocesan data safe and for sending the information on to MSH.  The Trustees will appoint one person for this and ensure that they are working on a secure computer.  All information will be encrypted before sending on to MSH.  If you or any of your members have concerns about this, please do talk to me and I’ll hope to reassure you that this will not be used for anything other than MU business.      We as Trustees will sign the commitment which is now on the screen:

As we are on the subject of names and addresses etc. Jacky Fredrickson has been updating our Bristol Diocesan Directory and we’ll make sure copies of this will be sent to Deanery Leaders for sending on to their branches.  One important update was a correction of my telephone number.

Also in the envelopes are copies of ‘Labelled for Life’ which have been bought by the Diocese.  This excellent booklet has been updated and is designed to give parents, carers and teachers the confidence to handle the commercial and sexualised influences that children might face.  Please take these booklets into church or to places where you meet up with parents and offer them as a gift from Mothers’ Union.

Let me now turn our attention to future events:

    First of all I want to draw your attention to our Faith in Action Day.  One of my regrets has been that we don’t have many opportunities of meeting together as a Diocese, apart from our annual AGM and this Council meeting.  These are great, but it does not really give you an opportunity to participate – you’re here to hear the news about MU in Bristol but that all comes from us – the Trustees.  So we’ve invited Marian Pope to come and facilitate a special day for us and we’ve called it Faith in Action as that picks up this year’s theme and it’s what MU is all about.  Every Branch envelope has some fliers and a form for the Branch Leader to fill in and return so that we know how many people will be attending – spare fliers are in the floyer.  Lunch will be provided and the caterers will want to know the number they’re feeding, and Marian would like to know numbers for the material she will bring with her.  I’m looking forward to it as I know Marian will give us a lively and inspiring day – we won’t just be sitting and listening but will be able to get involved with other members in the activities she gives us.  It will be fun!  Branch Leaders – we’re asking for a response from all of you even if you have not been able to persuade anyone in your branch to attend!

[  Also sent out to you before this meeting – and copies are available if you haven’t got a copy – is more information on the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence.  We’re inviting members to gather together as a symbolic act on Sunday 26th November to mark a Global Moment to raise awareness of gender-based violence. There are resources on the MU website – everything from a service to a few simple prayers.  Please do get involved as this is one way we can follow up on MU Social Policy.

Sunday 26th November is also Advent Sunday.  Mothers’ Union has designed a wonderful Advent prayer calendar for use through Advent called “Journeying Through Advent”.  This can be downloaded from the website – there is a link from the most recent newsletter which I hope most of you receive by email.

In February 2018 I will be attending a Leadership Conference, at [  Swanwick in Derbyshire and we Diocesan Presidents have been asked to bring another member with us – and this does not need to be a Trustee.  This is a wonderful opportunity for someone to meet some of our wonderful leaders and to get involved in MU at a deeper level.  I am looking in particular for someone who is prepared to get involved in local conversations following the conference as we roll out a new project called MUOLA – [SLIDES] MU observes, listens, acts. This should lead on to discussions in communities with feedback at meeting in May.  If this appeals to you then please don’t be shy about putting yourself forward - just speak to me over lunch.  I’m looking forward to meeting you!

Then in April we in Bristol will be having a special celebration for Lady Day with our Worldwide President, Lynne Tembey.  She is coming to Bristol for a three day visit – starting on Saturday 7th April with our AGM, here in Marshfield Community Centre. Do start publicising this to members in your branches and make sure they make a note in their diaries.  This is the first time we believe that we have had a visit from the Worldwide President and we want as many members as possible to have an opportunity to meet her.  On Sunday, 8th April there is a special Festal Evensong in Bristol Cathedral at 3.30 pm, celebrating Lady Day. I hope to get someone special to preach at that service.  If any branch would like to host Lynne during that morning and give her lunch please do let me or your Deanery Leader know.  It would be ideal opportunity for one of our Bristol branches.  Finally on Monday 9th April Lynne will be in Swindon where there will be another service for Lady Day, this being the actual day for celebrating it in 2018, before Lynne travels home to Yorkshire.

While thinking of next year, the theme for 2018 is “In Mary Sumner’s footsteps”.  There are a lot of resources on the website with ideas of how to celebrate and use this theme.  I do encourage you to look them up.  Also I can announce that next year’s Annual Meeting and Service will be in Swansea and the dates are 17th and 18th September 2018.

Finally, a big thank you to all the Trustees and Unit Co-ordinators for all you do for MU.  We have an impressive amount going on at present, so we do need support from other members.  You never know what you can do until you try.  Our particular needs for next year are someone to head up Action and Outreach. Is this something you can do?   It should not be Mary Head who was President and Co-ordinator for A & O for 6 years.  Nor should it be something that the President (me!) has to do because there’s no-one else! And another person to whom I am most grateful as she has held my hand through these first two years of being your President and that’s Pam Mills.  She also has done more than anyone to keep our Bristol MU on track, not just with the finances but with her energetic organising of the AFIA coaches and being the distribution centre for our knitted goods and her organisation of these meetings in Marshfield.  She has just spent a couple of days packing knitted garments and blankets round some bikes that are being taken out to Nepal for a charity ride.  There is no end to her ingenuity in finding ways of sending knitted jumpers to every corner of the world!  Thank you Pam.    However, again we can’t expect her to go on being our Treasurer for ever – as well as dealing with the knitted jumpers.  We need someone with experience in accounting to take over.  If you know of anyone or feel this is one of your gifts, again please do talk to me or Pam to find out more.  [FINAL  

So today I’ll end with a prayer for you all, taken from Paul’s letter to Philemon:

I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.


Aurea Hart