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A BEACON OF LIGHT
Mothers’ Union, Newcastle Diocese
Mothers’ Union is an international Christian membership movement 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.
Mothers’ Union – Events and Services
Below is a small selection of upcoming events held by Mothers’ Union Newcastle. Click here for their full calendar.
Midday Prayers at Newcastle Cathedral
The first Thursday of the month, 12-12:30pm. All welcome.
Partners with Newcastle Diocese for over 140 years
Newcastle Diocese was founded in 1882 out of Durham Diocese, the same decade that Mothers Union became established across the nation. Newcastle was the first Diocese after Winchester to adopt Mothers Union. The first President was Mrs Emily Wilberforce, wife of the bishop.
Mothers’ Union was founded in 1876 by Mary Sumner in Old Arlesford 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 went on to become 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 change the nation for the better. 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, calling upon women of all social classes to support one another and to see motherhood as a profession as important as those of men. Branches and activities are parish-based, with elected trustees across the Diocese. Despite their 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 been made honorary canons of the Cathedral.
The new Diocesan Banner in the Cathedral’s Chapel of the Resurrection replaced the original, which was burned accidentally. The banner with 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 Objects of the MU are written, in calligraphic form, in English, French and Danish, 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.