Our new Worldwide President Lynne Tembey welcomed us all to the meeting, and as usual asked all the Provinces in turn to show their hands. We certainly showed that Peterborough Diocese was there. As well as the five ‘Home’ Provinces there were also delegates from Nigeria and Trinidad & Tobago.
Lynne welcomed the Clergy and any people who were there that are yet to become members – how could they not join after our General Meeting!
The Bath & Wells Diocesan President then also welcomed us, as well as the Deputy Mayor of Bath who hoped that we would have time to look around the City.
The others Union Chaplain then led our opening worship, although he has only been a member for two months, he has worked with the Mothers’ Union for a number of years.
Lynne Tembey then gave her address to us. She started be saying that gifts can be a blessing, they can be useful or worthless.
She asked ‘Is your membership of the Mothers’ Union a Gift’, ‘Has it enhanced your life’. She asked us to reflect on the ‘Holy Family’, a young unmarried mother in a strange place with no family around – how must she have felt.
Mary Sumner realised when she became a grandmother, that we mothers actually have no training for this most important of jobs. Children of today quickly become the parents and leaders of tomorrow. The role of parenthood is one of the most daunting and rewarding jobs in the world.
Lynne went on to say that the parenting course is running in 26 countries, and that our I.M.P.C. members support us in prayer.
She spoke about the practical projects like A.F.I.A. running in most Dioceses. We must nurture our children’s faith, and she quoted Mary Sumner’s personal prayer. She also quoted verses from James Chapter 2: 17, 24,26
Lynne went on to say that as individuals we are weak, but together we are strong.
Her vision is that Mothers’ Union will be a respected voice on Marriage and Family Life through our words and actions.
She talked next about the literacy campaign, saying that the seeds had been grown and would continue to grow.
Lynne talked about her trip to Kenya and said we could read about it on her blog: http://mothersunion.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/worldwide-president-lynne-tembeys-trip-to-kenya/
Introduction of the New Trustee Board
She went on to talk about the new Trustee Board which now has more representatives from overseas, to better represent the membership. There are 6 trustees from around the world, including Ghana, Kenya, West Indies and the DR Congo.
Reg Bailey then hosted a ‘Question Time’ with the four unit co-ordinators around a table just like the television programme – they even played the signature tune.
They reported that lots of the worldwide countries are becoming more independent, but they still need our support. Fundraising is critical to help all the other units. Much has been raised by the Mothers’ Day cards, Count Your Blessings, and the Wheels Appeal.
They mentioned the ‘Bye Bye Childhood’ campaign which is ongoing and also mentioned that the United Nation where the Mothers’ Union has a voice, is dealing with Gender equality.
Midday Prayers followed
After lunch our quest speaker was Adrian Plass, who said he was a Hope Monitor. He went on to say that 30 yrs ago he prayed that God would use him however he wanted – unfortunately Adrian then had a breakdown. He says he is still asking God to use him, and at the moment he is at ‘Scargill House’ in Yorkshire which is a retreat house. Adrian regularly writes for ‘Families First’, and has been a regular contributor for many years to ‘Daylight’ the daily Bible study book, which many of you will have read.
Adrian talked about three things – Laughter, Listening and Love. He went on to say that one day he and his wife and a third person who was a potential suicide were sitting together and whatever Adrian said made the suicidal persons laugh and changed her outlook on life. He certainly made us laugh by the things he said. He also talked about ‘Listening’ and talked about the ‘Platitudes’ used when you meet bereaved people – he had us laughing again, but he said you must listen to what others people say, and of course ‘Love’ is in everything we do.
Rev’d Fedis Nyagah
Our next speaker was a little difficult to understand – we not being used to the Kenyan accent, but she spoke about CCMP – Church & Community Mobilisation. In partnership with Tearfund, facilitators lead Bible Studies to change the mind-set from ‘I need’ to ‘God has given to me things I can use to prosper’. This helps them to improve their income through agriculture, parenting, safer motherhood or literacy training. Mothers’ Union is committed to supporting the cost of funding in each country, of which eight have already started training.
‘Help us to Grow’: Sowing the Future Together
Our last speaker was Emily Petty who is head of Fundraising & Communications at Mary Sumner House. Emily Petty showed us the new Help us to Grow DVD, which is well worth seeing. She spoke about branches that had made Fire Service bears, and another branch that had invited four people from their congregation who they thought might be potential members. Two more people turned up wanting to know why they had not been invited – it worked, as the branch now has six more members. If only it was that easy! We do need to Grow for the future and inviting just one person to your Branch would be a start.
The meeting ended with the usual worship and the news that next year the meeting will be in Belfast on the 21st June.
A comment from the president, Barbara Haynes, on the lighter side of the General Meeting.
On the days that we were not at the meeting we had a holiday together. This photo shows us on a windy ridge on Exmoor on one of our days out. The holiday was great fun, and this was the outing that I enjoyed most. We are all grateful to Meg and David Dyer who organised the holiday.