The Mothers' Union has approximately 4,000,000 members in 83 countries around the world. It was formed by Mary Sumner in 1876.
The Mothers' Union is a Christian organisation which promotes the well being of families world-wide.
We achieve this by:-
· Developing prayer and spiritual growth in families;
· Studying and reflecting on family life and marriage and its place in society;
· Resourcing our members to take practical action to improve conditions for families, both nationally and in the communities in which they live.
Aim and Objects
The Aim of the Mothers' Union is the advancement of the Christian religion in the sphere of marriage and family life.
The Objects of the Mothers' Union are:-
· To uphold Christ's teaching on the nature of marriage and to promote its wider understanding;
· To encourage parents to bring up their children in the faith and life of the Church;
· To maintain a worldwide fellowship of Christians, united in prayer, worship and service;
· To promote conditions in society favourable to stable family life and the protection of children;
· To help those whose family life has met with adversity.
BELFAST CATHEDRAL BRANCH
The Cathedral branch of Mothers’ Union (MU) was founded in the old St Anne’s church in 1900. Throughout the years the branch members have supported the work of the Deans and have contributed many items to enhance the beauty of the Cathedral through its various stages of development. During the late 1970s and early 1980s the branch worked particularly hard at catering for tour parties to the cathedral to raise funds to purchase the silver candle sticks and the Celtic Cross used on the Holy Table. The solid silver Crucifer carried in the procession during services was purchased by the branch as were various articles of Communion linen and the embroidered cloth in use on the Holy Table in the Chapel of Unity. The oak casing at the back of the organ, oak handrails and flower pedestals were bought by the branch members.
Throughout the years there has been great importance placed on the spiritual life of the members and regular prayers have been said for those who are frail, elderly and in poor health. Our overseas members are prayed for daily using the Wave of Prayer which enables us to pray for members in all the countries where there is a MU presence.
Since MU has moved its focus in recent years to working in communities, Cathedral branch members are fully involved in the projects that are currently taking place in Connor Diocese.
· We have a member on the management committee of Central Belfast Child Contact Centre where children come to meet, in a safe environment, with their non resident parent when marriage break-up occurs. Some members are volunteers at the centre
· Many members support a hospital project by knitting blankets and teddies, making cot sheets and cot mattresses and supplying emergency wash bags for use when there is an emergency admission to hospital or hostel
· We support a new project in its second year in the diocese, AFIA (Away From It All). This is a holiday scheme which provides a break for a family which otherwise would not have the opportunity to get away from home
· We also support our Parenting initiative which provides trained facilitators to lead groups of mums and dads who wish to find out more about bringing up children today
· We financially support the work of MU overseas in the Family Life Programme and MU Literacy & Development Programme. Comic Relief pledged £1 million to this venture recognising the value that MU provides over other charities in the field of aid
· We pray continually for our members at home and overseas and this under-pins all that we do and undertake
· In 2012 MU is celebrating 125 years of MU in Ireland by holding tea parties to raise funds for projects at home and overseas and to support clergy in training and their families
The Cathedral branch, married and unmarried ladies, currently has approximately 30 members drawn from a wide geographic area, from Newtownards, Bangor, South, East and North Belfast, Newtownabbey and South Antrim. In times past, cathedral boy choristers practised on Saturday morning and mothers were invited to come to MU meetings to pass the time while their boys were rehearsing. Friendships made during those times continue and some of the branch members are drawn from the Presbyterian and Methodist traditions. Choristers are recruited from all denominations not just the Anglican faith. The practice of meeting on Saturday morning still continues and proved to be very suitable during the “Troubles” when Donegall Street was a “no-go” area at night.
Our numbers may not be as great as in former years but we still strive to maintain a MU branch at St Anne’s Cathedral and will welcome new members. We continue to support the work of the Dean and Chapter in whatever way we can.
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