Emily Cobb recently wrote an article for The Gospel Coalition Australia called The Worth of A Woman. In it, Emily said “why we don’t spend some time celebrating the ways women are servants of Jesus in all their splendid variety—not just arguing over whether a woman can teach on Sunday or what precisely should be considered modest attire.”
So this blog seeks to avert our gaze from discussions around what women can’t or shouldn’t do, and celebrate of what they are already doing. That we might all be encouraged by what God is doing in this world through Christian women.
What would you think if I said the words “Mothers’ Union”? Would you roll your eyes? Would you cock your head on one side and wonder if I’d gone back in time half a century? Would you shrug your shoulders?
The Mothers’ Union began in 1876 in the UK (1892 in Australia) and by 1939 had half a million members across the Commonwealth. Today, Mothers’ Union has a membership of 4 million across 84 countries. Does that surprise you? It surprised me. Because I didn’t really think MU was a thing any more. That was the kind of thing my grandma would have been involved in. Or so I thought.
MU groups are linked to their local church and the MU structure sits under their own diocese. So MU for me, I am within the Sydney diocese and so MU Sydney is my “gang”. But there are MU groups in churches within their diocesan context all over Australia and all over the world. Some of the largest memberships are now in the developing world.
And what do these 4 million women do? A lot as it turns out.
First of all they pray. They have a prayer diary and they pray for marriages, for children, for families and for each other. Can you imagine that? Even if only 50% of members do the praying, that’s still 2 million women praying every day for all of us. And that is staggering.
The Anglican Mothers Union of Australia (AMUA) is the overarching body in Australia and provides a range of materials to support parents and each diocese provides various other materials. In Sydney they have been developing and providing parenting courses and one off seminars available to all.
The Mothers Union also supports various projects including raising funds for iPads for Students Nungalinya College in the Northern Territory as well as projects to support mothers and communities in Tanzania and East Lebanon.
Mothers’ Union continue two ministries that they have undertaken for years – visiting new mums in hospital and sitting with families at the Family Law Courts. These quiet ministries are profoundly important at moments of enormous significance and vulnerability for people.
Mothers’ Union globally has an annual program – 16 days of activism against gender based violence. The program includes 16 days of focused prayer, awareness raising, provision of theological and practical resources to both help Christians understand the enormity of the problem, and where to reach help. All coordinated throughout Australia and the world.
Mothers’ Union also have a shop at Town Hall in Sydney (and online). It sells home made jams, quilts, blankets and baby clothes as well as Fair Trade items. You might think it is small and quaint. But the proceeds of this shop is in large part responsible for MU Sydney’s ability to self-fun 2-3 women’s and children’s workers in our churches every year. Yes – those cakes and jams and baby blankets fund up to 3 jobs to support women and children in our churches.
This is a lot achieved very quietly. It is quiet, but it is steady and tenacious and faithful. It shows just how much can be achieved by many women coming together. No skill is too trivial and no gift is too small. It shows that we don’t all have to be best selling authors or musicians or missionaries or midwives working in third world countries. We can just be our ordinary selves, contributing what we can in the company of other Christian women. A staggering amount is actually achieved through all the members of Mothers’ Union working together, under God.
So here’s my first celebration of what women are already doing for God’s kingdom. And maybe we should all look twice at Mothers’ Union. Here’s a few ideas for us all to think about:
- Read the history of the Mothers Union in Jane Toohers article for The Gospel Coalition Australia and be encouraged
- Join the Mothers’ Union
- Start a MU group at your church (or join one!)
- Access their parenting resources
- Join in their projects and daily prayer – the prayer diaries are SO easy to use (trust me!)
- Think about contributing your time or dollars to their projects
- Go shopping at their online store!
I plan on honoring other women and what they are doing. If you have someone you would like us to celebrate, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org – I would love to acknowledge some of your heroes too, so we can all be encouraged!!!
This is fabulous!