Christian Belief Into Practice
Picture, Charitable Woamn with Children
Jesus told us that as part of serving God, Christians should "Love your neighbour as much as you love yourself", in that way we also honour God as much as he loves us (Luke 10:25-28). (Return to top)

There are consequently many Christian-based charities which exist to put that theory into practice. Some are listed below, click on each for more details:

Mothers' Union, Christian Aid, Tear Fund
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M U New Logo
M U Old Logo
The Mothers' Union is a Christian organisation with 4 million members in 81 countries worldwide. Its aim is to promote the well being and support of mothers and families and, through them, society in general. Their new logo is shown above, but for many years it has been an interlocking M and U as shown alongside, and this can still be seen on kneelers and banners in many local churches. (Return to top)
What Do Thy Do?
Picture, Holiday Caravan
Hundreds of local branches, made up of grass roots volunteers, hold regular meetings to promote the organisation's aims among their members and to support local programmes and fundraising, but the Mother's Union also employs 300 people worldwide and works both centrally and locally on ‘Programmes’, ‘Faith’ and ‘Policy’. (Return to top)

Programmes: include work in prisons, parenting groups, AFIA ("Away From It All" holidays, usually in caravans, for families who wouldn't otherwise get a break), Child Contact Centres (creating a safe environment for children from broken families to meet with the estranged parent), women’s refuge centres and local marriage guidance/preparation groups. Overseas programmes includes similar activities as well as Literacy and Development projects in Malawi, Sudan and Burundi to help people become literate, as well as the promotion of good hygiene and knowledge about HIV/AIDS. (Return to top)

Faith: includes providing resources for prayer, spiritual guidance, corporate worship and religious education. (Return to top)

Policy: includes helping families to find a voice to speak for themselves with colleagues and friends as well as in society, faith communities and the political arena. (Return to top)
International Links
Picture, African M U
Unfortunately the name "Mothers' Union" is now a misnomer. Not all members are mothers, not all are married, not all are women - there are a many male members (our own Bishop of Tewkesbury is one). The only requirements for membership are that one should uphold the basic principles of family life, bring up children in the Christian faith, and try to help those individuals or families who have met with adversity. (Return to top)

There are many branches in Africa and Japan, and Gloucester now has a special link with the Women's Fellowship (a similar organisation to Mothers' Union) in South India. Due to changes in society, many women in the UK now work during the day so Dymock no longer has a branch, but the banner stills hangs proudly in the church. Redmarley’s branch is flourishing. They have a special link with the diocese of Southern Highlands in Tanzania, having met the wife of its former Bishop when she came to England several years ago. She encouraged them to collect enough money for her fellow-members in Tanzania to buy a cow, which was duly purchased, and whose calves are sent to other groups out there. (Return to top)
Local Branch - Redmarley
Picture, Redmarly M U Group
The Redmarley branch meets once a month, except in August. Sometimes with a speaker, or else a discussion or talk from a member with something interesting to share. Fundamentally their meetings, projects and activities all have a serious purpose, but they do have lots of fun as well! (Return to top)
National Programmes
Money Advice Logo
urrent projects in our diocese of Gloucester reflect the national Programmes and include:
Parenting Groups: 6-8 week courses helping mums (and dads) share the challenges and joys of being a parent. (Return to top)

Prisons: Leyhill Open Prison – provision of a children’s play area and helping dads meet with their visiting children. (Return to top)

Eastwood Park Women’s Prison – unit for new mothers and babies. Members sometimes take babies out into the community so they are not fazed when their mother is later released. (Return to top)

AFIA: Helping around 1,000 adults and 1,300 children every year. Sometimes granny takes the children, sometimes the whole family can go. (Return to top)

Money Advice Service: Skilled advisors to help advise families and individuals struggling with debt, which often helps keep families together. (Return to top)

Community: Help in elderly residential homes, mums and toddlers groups, and with ‘Open the Book’ in schools. (Return to top)

Spectacles for Africa: Collecting, washing and dispatching unwanted glasses for use with literacy work. (Return to top)
How It Started
Picture, May Sumner
The Mothers' Union was begun in the late 19th century by a women named Mary Sumner. Born in 1828 into a cultured family in Swinton near Manchester she grew up at Hope End in Herefordshire, between Ledbury and Malvern. In 1848 she became the wife of the Rector of Old Alresford in the Diocese of Winchester where, as well as raising three children, she supported her husband’s ministry by giving music and bible classes. (Return to top)

She became concerned that many of the wives and mothers in the parish led very restricted lives so were unable to get out to meet people and make friends and, especially for first-time mothers, would benefit from help with child-rearing skills. So one day in 1876 she collected a group of those women together in the Rectory and, by 1888, there were branches in seventeen other dioceses. In 1891 our diocese of Gloucester elected a Diocesan President and executive committee. One of their first meetings was held at St Stephen's Church, Cheltenham, with 120 members attending. (Return to top)