Celebrating Mothers’ Union in My Final Year as Diocesan President

As I write this article in the midst of the COVID 19 pandemic, there seems little to celebrate. However, this year MU celebrates 145 years since it started in a small Hampshire village and has grown into a worldwide charity with over 4 million members in 84 countries.

In the light of a worldwide pandemic MU has never been more important; acting and praying across the world. I have pledged myself to undertake 145 events, which will be real and virtual. We also celebrate 100 years since the death of our founder Mary Sumner.

As I am spending a lot of time walking at present, I have come up with the idea of virtually walking the length and breadth of the diocese. The distance north to south from Whissendine to Aynho is 135 kms.
West to East from Boddington to Eye is 80kms, making a total of 215 kms. As I started daily walks in Weymouth when staying with my daughter during the last lockdown and over Christmas, I have already completed the first 215 kms. I will therefore just keep walking rather like Forrest Gump!! I have set up a Just Giving
site: – The funds raised will contribute to our worldwide work and also work in the diocese.

In particular, I would like to support AFIA (Away from it all). MU has traditionally sent families away on holidays by the sea. This may be possible this summer. However, in recent COVID circumstances they have offered flexible packages of support to families. The feedback has been amazing. I also want to support creating helpful packs for clergy to practically help them in their ministry. My DP role comes to an end in December 2021 so I hope to fit in a great deal before then. There is a great need for prayer and action in this country and across the world, as families struggle with the multiple impacts of the Coronavirus. Thank you all for your prayers and support.

Jill Cannings Diocesan President


Working Together To Build God’s Kingdom

As a lay minister and Mothers’ Union Diocesan President (DP) I am a great believer in lay and ordained working together to build God’s Kingdom. We may have different roles and responsibilities, but are all gifted by God to share the good news of salvation. We may think of it in terms the great commission of making disciples (Matt 28:19 ), or in Mary Sumner’s prayer “touching lives for Christ”. Working and
praying together in our churches and communities can be mutually supportive.

Sadly many of our churches may no longer have an MU branch and the only evidence of past activity may be the old banner in the church. However, in my role as Diocesan President I am aware that across the diocese every possible support role in our churches is undertaken by MU members – lay ministers, church wardens, choir members, welcomers, intercessors, readers, servers, vergers, sacristans,
brass cleaners, etc. etc. I became starkly aware of this in two examples.

As a branch leader I was struggling to find MU members to run our popular homemade produce stall at the Church Christmas bazaar. I then realized that MU members were involved in all other stalls. MU can also fill our churches. My first engagement as DP was to speak at a Lady Day service. On a Tuesday the church was full and every role including welcoming, presiding, preaching, serving, reading and
interceding was undertaken by MU members. And of course after the service was a fabulous spread with tea and homemade cakes.

Many clergy are MU members. In my church we are blessed that the Rector and her husband are members, plus our curate, and our youth worker. Together we can achieve so much more in ministry and mission.

Jill Cannings