Column: Julia Tum, Mothers Union - The life and courage of Mary Sumner

​Church members got together for a quiet day, spending the day away from the bustle of our lives.​Church members got together for a quiet day, spending the day away from the bustle of our lives.
​Church members got together for a quiet day, spending the day away from the bustle of our lives.
​I am sure that you will know the biblical account of Jesus feeding 5000 people who had come to listen to him.

​The only food he had to share were two small fish and five barley loaves given to him by a little boy. It is an amazing occurrence that many of us just cannot grasp, and some try to explain it away by saying that other people must have brought food which also got shared out. But what if it was true? What a mind-blowing miracle. The little boy must have been stunned and having listened to Jesus’ talk, he really did have faith in him and realised that although the problem of feeding at least 5000 people was huge, that no problem is ever too big for God.

During this month the Mothers’ Union celebrates the life and courage of Mary Sumner, who was the founder of the movement in 1876. She was the wife of a rector in Hampshire, and she set up a group to support mothers in bringing up their children. It was unheard of in those days for a woman to step out and speak up. Wonderfully, she inspired many women to go back to their parishes and set up support groups. The MU has now grown and is now present in over 84 different countries with over 4m members. Wow! God made a truly impressive organisation from the few words spoken by a courageous woman. We had an excellent service and fun party at Almondbury Church to remember Mary Sumner and to celebrate the anniversary of that MU Branch in its 126th year.

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The MU asks all of its members to recognise and use the skills and resources which they have in abundance around them. As a consequence, the MU enables individuals to give support to many less able and more vulnerable than themselves. This happens throughout the world. There is never anything too small which God cannot use for a greater purpose. And there is nothing that is too big that, with his love, we cannot address.

For example, we support the women’s prison in Flockton. We collect non perishable food, toiletries, small handbags and many useful items that they may not have for when they hopefully start a new life ‘beyond the bars’. Due to different MU members bringing just one or two items I am able to take car boots full of wonderful gifts to New Hall Prison and similar items and boxed games to an agency in Huddersfield which runs women’s refuges for those fleeing from domestic abuse. One lady has arrived at my church in Rastrick from Halifax with bags of very useful items. She has ‘found me’ due to this newspaper column and reading about the work of the MU. Small beginnings, eh?

Last week many of our church members got together for a quiet day. We spent the day away from the bustle of our lives talking about how we can support others in different situations; how we can be more open to listen to God, ourselves and others; how we can use our talents and skills; where we have an abundance of something considering how that can be shared; and how we can ask for help when we have storms in our own lives.

If you want to know more about the work of the Mothers’ Union then do contact me [email protected] or your local church.

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