The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville

The Archbishop of Canterbury highlights the vital work Mothers’ Union does worldwide - and the challenges it faces…

In recent decades, Mothers’ Union has had a crucial role in countless local parishes in Britain as the channel by which firsthand news of communities abroad under great pressure is brought to people in the pews. Mothers’ Union continues to do an extraordinary job in keeping the congregations of the Church of England conscious of their international links and responsibilities.

But that is to speak only of the UK. Mothers’ Union has been an inseparable part of the expansion of Anglican Christianity into its present global dimensions. Far removed from comfortable parsonages or church halls of popular English fantasy, it is manifestly the most effective deliverer of education in primary health care, post-trauma counselling, micro-finance, education and the general advancement and empowerment of women in societies of the global South. In the ravaged environments of African states that have been through nightmare conflict, Mothers’ Union offers what often no other group can: the local, effective, liberating building of capacity and mutual support among women.

Plentiful inspirational examples exist, such as in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Mothers’ Union members have supported the recovery of women subjected to sexual violence. They also work with women living with HIV to develop small scale enterprise and to gain confidence, through group solidarity, to challenge stigma and educate local churches and communities about HIV. Given that it is generally recognised that women are central to the development of their communities and societies, this is a monumental contribution to the Millennium Development Goals - and one that is still barely understood or acknowledged by many in the ‘development’ world, governments and secular NGOs alike.

The worldwide profile of the Mothers’ Union is now one in which the developing world has clear predominance. One of the difficult questions members face is how new energy and a younger membership might be generated within the Church in Britain and Ireland. But it would be very foolish to underrate the capacity of the Mothers’ Union to renew itself and respond in fresh ways to new situations… Long may it continue to do so, for the good of Church and world.

The Most Rev and Rt Hon Dr Rowan Williams

•From Families Worldwide Magazine 

Winter Edition 2011