Diocesan Mothers’ Union Chaplain and member Ven David Sutch enrolled Bishop Geoffrey in the Chapel at Worth in the presence the Ven Jonathan LLoyd and the Ven Peter Potter (also MU members).
On being admitted as a member of the Mothers’ Union
When I grew up in a church which had a flourishing Mothers’ Union, some of whose members I remember as my first Sunday School teachers, I would have thought it highly improbable that one day I would be admitted as a member of the Mothers’ Union – for it was intended to be exactly that – a union for Mothers, with Young Wives following as mothers became grandmothers. I grew up in Winchester Diocese, which was of course the home diocese of Mary Sumner, and so the Mothers’ Union was seen as very much something which belonged to the diocese. Many years later, when I returned to the diocese as Bishop of Basingstoke, there were many visits to Old Alresford Place, with many memories of Mary Sumner, and a splendid card on sale showing stern Victorian matrons in sepia as the first members of the Mothers’ Union. When I admitted members of the Mothers’ Union in one of our Nigerian congregations – Macerata – in Italy, I saw the same sepia image of Mary Sumner, but this time printed on blue Mothers’ Union wraps. When there was exuberant dancing following the admission of new members the combination of the sober Mary Sumner and African liveliness made a sharp contrast.
I see my admission as a member of the Mothers’ Union as both a continuity with my earliest experience of the church, and as way of signalling solidarity with one of the most remarkable Anglican organisations, supporting families, protesting against injustice, working for victims of HIV/AIDS, challenging the causes of domestic violence, and many other issues. As Bishop in Europe I am delighted to be part of this world-wide family, and to support its mission and witness.
November, 2011 +GEOFFREY GIBRALTAR