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NEWCASTLE CATHEDRAL
A BEACON OF LIGHT

  • OPENING TIMES

  • Saturdays and Sundays
    8am-5pm
  • Mondays to Fridays
    8am-6pm
  • Café 16
    Mon-Sat 10am-4pm
  • FREE ENTRY

Opening times

  • Saturdays and Sundays
    8am-5pm
  • Mondays to Fridays
    8am-6pm
  • Café 16
    Mon-Sat 10am-4pm
  • FREE ENTRY

Mothers’ Union, Newcastle Diocese

Mothers’ Union is an international Christian membership movement that has been supporting families and communities in need in the UK and worldwide since 1876. Four million members are active in 84 countries, serving people in their communities regardless of faith or background.

Newcastle Mothers’ Union holds Midday Prayers at the Cathedral on the first Thursday of every month from 12 to 12:30pm. All are welcome to attend.

Partners with Newcastle Diocese for over 140 years

Newcastle Diocese was founded in 1882 out of Durham Diocese, the same decade that the Mothers Union became established nationwide. Newcastle was the first Diocese after Winchester to adopt the Mothers Union. The first President was Mrs Emily Wilberforce, who was married to the first Bishop of Newcastle.

Mothers’ Union was founded in 1876 by Mary Sumner in Old Alresford Parish, Winchester Diocese, where her husband was Rector. The first MU meeting in Northumberland was in Embleton in 1879, led by Louise Creighton, the wife of the vicar, Revd Mandell Creighton, who later became the Bishop of London.

The first Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Ernest Wilberforce, was deeply impressed by shy Mary Sumner’s ministry with mothers and persuaded her to speak about her Mothers’ Meetings at a Congress in Portsmouth in 1885. She spoke extemporarily and passionately about national morality and the importance of women’s vocation as mothers to improve the nation. As a result, many delegates set up Mothers’ Meetings. By 1900, membership across the UK reached 169,000. By 1921, there were 400,000 members worldwide.

Queen Victoria offered her royal patronage to MU in her Diamond Jubilee Year 1897.

Mothers’ Union today

Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll was the Patron until 2022. In 2000, the United Nations gave Mothers Union consultative status within its Economic and Social Council on issues such as poverty, gender equality, HIV and AIDS.

Mary Sumner’s vision was radical and pioneering in its day. It called upon women of all social classes to support one another and see motherhood as a profession as important as those of men. Branches and activities are parish-based, with elected trustees across the Diocese. Despite its name, Mothers’ Union is an inclusive organisation with many men as members.

Rooted in prayer and action, members believe that prayer is transformational and supports their work around the world. Their daily midday prayer focuses on their projects, locally and worldwide.

At the Cathedral

Midday Prayers in the Cathedral are led by Mothers’ Union members every first Thursday of the month. In recent years, Mothers’ Union Presidents have become honorary canons of the Cathedral.

The Diocesan Banner in the Cathedral, which features a modern portrayal of mother and child, was designed and made by Edith Coulton, the wife of a former Dean, the Very Revd Nicholas Coulton (2001-2003). The MU objects are written in English, French, and Danish in calligraphic form, marking the links the Diocese and the City have with these nations.

Work in Newcastle Diocese and further afield

Mothers’ Union Worldwide Projects include supportive work with prisons, refuges, survivors of domestic or gender abuse, community crafts, families in adversity, advocacy and campaigns, and literacy and numeracy programmes. Newcastle branches have many ongoing local projects supporting families in need, hospital wards, refuges, schools and asylum seekers. The current President for Newcastle Diocese is Margy Tasker-Brown, who succeeded Barbara Packer in January 2022.