With more than four million members, Mothers’ Union today supports women and children in 83 countries.
The organisation has come a long way from its beginnings in 1876 as the local project of English grandmother Mary Sumner but South Australian Diocesan President Marion McCall says no matter the location, it remains “the backbone of family life”.
“Mary had a vision with three areas of focus,” Marion says.
“The goal was promoting a high standard of parenting and nurturing of children, and encouraging those within her community to live out their lives in faith, while focusing every effort through the lens of prayer to advance the sharing of Christ’s love.”
Within 15 years, this vision had spread to four different continents, including Australia, where it now operates at national, diocesan and parish levels.
The South Australian branch was founded in 1985 by Lady Victoria Buxton and Dorothy Harmer, the wives of the then Governor and Anglican Bishop – but primarily innovative and influential women in their own rights.
Today there are 17 individual parish branches operating across the state with their own presidents, secretaries and treasurers.
Over the last year, the wider South Australian branch has raised funds for single mothers and their dependent children through St John’s youth services, supported Seeds of Affinity – a group that helps women on release from prison – and financially supported the ordinances of St Barnabas’ College.
They also run a Christian bookshop in Leigh Street, Adelaide, and parenting classes for young mums.
Although Mothers’ Union’s work now comprises a broad range of portfolios, including Education, Social Issues and Action, and Prayer and Spirituality, Marion says the focus remains true to its beginnings.
“I think we still have that same vision as Mary Sumner,” Marion says.
“We usually start off our meeting with either a prayer meeting or a Eucharist and we’ve kept that strong focus on prayerful support, and always promoting family values.
“I’ve had lots of help myself over the years from Mothers’ Union and other women in the Parish who gave me support and help with bringing up my children as a young mum, so I truly believe in the value of Mothers’ Union and the difference we can make in people’s lives.”