The Mothers’ Union and the Association of Anglican Women’s Quiet Day, 2017

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Some thirty members of The Auckland MU and AAW joined together in the Bishop Selwyn Chapel at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity on 31 May, 2017 for their annual Quiet Day.

The day began with Eucharist, celebrated by the Precentor of Holy Trinity Cathedral, Revd Ivica Gregurec. The evening before, there had been a service in the cathedral to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the arrival of Bishop George Augustus Selwyn and Mrs Sarah Selwyn to Auckland on 30 May 1842. Revd Ivica began his sermon by observing that Bishop Selwyn’s wife Sarah had been a wonderful woman in supporting her husband’s work in witnessing for Christ. Today we also need to be walking, living witnesses for Christ.

31 May in the Anglican church’s calendar is the Feast Day marking The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth. Mary has often been depicted as a mild, holy young woman, but she must have been a woman of great strength, coping with becoming pregnant when unmarried, and knowing that Joseph was thinking of putting her aside. What internal turmoil she must have felt when she travelled to see Elizabeth, but she did not allow stressful circumstances to control her. She is an inspiration to us for the trust she had in God.

As God inspired the saints of old, he inspires us too. When we are in circumstances which we cannot control, we can always trust God. Quiet Day offers us the opportunity to encounter Christ afresh and to be reminded that His love abounds, to inspire us for many, many days to come.

Following the Eucharist, Diocesan President Joan Neild introduced Revd Owen Hoskin as the leader of the Quiet Day’s study of women apostles. Revd Owen began by giving a series of clues for participants eventually to realise that the leader of the Anglican Church with its 83 million members all over the world is actually a woman – Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The roots of Anglican beliefs are in the Jewish faith, and unfortunately the actions of Constantine have cut us off from the Jewish traditions. This has affected our full understanding of the covenants of God. In the Jewish faith this day (31 May 2017) is the festival of Shavuot, marking the occasion when the Jews were given the Torah on Mt Sinai. According to Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Midrash commentaries on the Jewish bible say that God asked Moses to offer his covenant (to stay with the Jews and never to abandon them, because they were his chosen people) to the women first. For God knew that the women would take it seriously down through the generations.

Jesus is the living Torah for us – the new promise of God. When Christ arose, it was to women that he first appeared. An understanding of the faith into which Jesus was born, enables fuller comprehension of the context of Christ and of the new covenant he brings.

pic 3Revd Owen continued by observing that there are many women in the Jewish bible (the Old Testament). Although many were in dysfunctional families where things went wrong, we can take encouragement from that. The Lord at the end works his purpose out and with his abundant love uplifts those who believe in him. There were women in the Jewish bible who were Gebirah – the ‘Queen Mother’ of the Davidic Kings – a special and powerful position in Judea. The early church was Jewish and they understood this concept. Jewish women did honour, (but did not worship) the ‘Queen Mother’. However Mary, mother of Jesus became super-elevated by some in the Christian church, and in contrast not honoured at all by others. What can we learn from the Jewish bible’s concept of women deserving honour?

The focus then fell on the meaning of ‘apostle’ and whether various women may be considered as apostles. Could Mary Sumner, founder of the Mothers’ Union be considered an apostle? Her vision of children being able to grow up safely in a loving family where they could learn about and experience the love of God certainly qualifies her as a woman on a mission which furthers the gospel of Christ.

There have been many women apostles that are not widely acknowledged today. Some examples are Junia (honoured by the apostle Paul), Pope John VIII (Joan), Hildegard of Bingen, Catherine of Siena, Susanna Wesley, Mother Aubert.

After a break for lunch (participants brought their own), Rev Owen outlined the missionary work of these and of further examples of women through history. He then presented four questions for consideration.

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In condensed form they were:

  1. Can we label outstanding women then and now ‘Apostles’, and does it matter if we call them ‘Apostles’?
  2. What can we learn from the example of our historic sisters and mothers in the faith?
  3. Are we able to challenge the status quo of our day (as some historic women did, to extend God’s kingdom) to carry out Mary Sumner’s vision?
  4. Does MU reflect proportionally the multi-ethnic class structures of Auckland? Why/why not?

There followed some general discussion of the roles of men and women in history, and this extended to the gift of prayer, the role of ornament in churches, and the concept of a priest. In conclusion Rev Owen observed that saints are our whakapapa – we do not worship them, but we are grateful for what they have done.

A collection of reflections for each day of Lent, from Canterbury Cathedral, England.


A favourite featured below:

So he said to the gardener, “See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?” He replied, “Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it.”

The full text for today is Luke 13:1-9. Read it here.

The Gospel of Second Chances

My gardening manual tells me ‘fig trees are grown
for their succulent fruits’, and indeed, I adore
their soft purple pulp, the sweet sticky juice
creamy flesh and burst of seeds.
But I’d like to ask

this fig tree why it grows, what it believes
its purpose in life to be. Listen
to its reply: ‘Why can’t you be content
to sit beneath my shade?’

‘Yes, but…’ I interrupt, still intent on finding fruit.
The fig continues :‘Are not my staunch observance
of the seasons and my shape against the sky
sufficient to let me share this soil?

Why must you always bend
creation to your service; demand a profit?’
I have no answer. Then I see
the tree stretch out its glossy leaves

like giant hands in supplication, pleading
for reprieve. It was the gardener
unintimidated by the order ‘Cut it down!’
who had grace enough to tend it

and heard the fig tree’s secret plea;
the gardener who preached
the gospel of second chances
who refused to name and shame.

So I need to talk with Jesus now. I need
his reassurance, that when I fail
again, as fail I’m sure to do
a gardener will be close at hand
ready to defend me, too.

Judith Dimond attends St Martin’s and St Paul’s Churches in Canterbury and is a member of the Canterbury Novena Team. After a career in public and voluntary service, Judith turned to poetry and writing. She is author of Gazing of the Gospels, Years A, B, and C (SPCK).
Copyright © 2017, Diocese of Canterbury, All rights reserved.

The Auckland report for the 140th Anniversary Celebrations of the Worldwide Mothers’ Union

Wonderful Winchester

Rev. Iritana Hankins, our NZ Provincial President, Margaret Wilson, Janice Cheeseman and myself, travelled separately to the City of Winchester to attend the 140th World Mothers’ Union celebrations. This event will remain as one of the highlights of my Mothers’ Union days for the real sense of world togetherness of our organisation. The fellowship of some 2800 MU members attending the two services began the events. And both the Formal Dinner and the World AGM meeting were amazing, for their joyous spirit and sense of unity, purpose and renewal.

The service in the afternoon we attended was wonderful, with its wonderful Procession with music from the Royal Fireworks by Handel, beautifully played by the organist Mr George Castle.

The Mary Sumner Choir from Zambia sang beautifully for us, and with us.

The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke like we knew he would, which went straight to our hearts with its messages, those of history, reality, loving support in communities worldwide and purpose.

It was a never to be forgotten service for its inspiration, sincerity and wonderful pageantry.

There was a great sense of joy standing outside in the sun afterwards and as we talked, and greeted each other, broad smiles from people everywhere. It was so overwhelming to be with such large numbers of women and men all gathered together for the same purpose.

The programme for the service was truly memorable for me, firstly because as a souvenir of the occasion, I can now read through it, and remember the whole service as it was again.But that programme included things of importance to Mothers’ Union, which will stay with me.

The first thing I want to acknowledge is the Wonderful greeting by our World Patron Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the second. A beautiful message for us all to treasure.

The second was the greetings from the Archbishop of Canterbury, together with a beautiful prayer he wrote for us. Greetings from the Anglican Communion the most Rev. Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion.

Lynne Tembey, Mothers’ Union Worldwide President congratulated the Membership of us all in this special year of our organisation and included a quote from Ephesians chapter 4: v 2.

The Winchester Cathedral greetings were from The Rev’d Canon Dr. Roland Riem, Dean of Winchester Cathedral. His quote for us was Hebrews 10: v 21.

A letter which Mary Sumner wrote to the Central Body about the membership of Mothers’ Union, was included. Mary wrote this because she was worried that the Membership was not being addressed to the women she created Mothers’ Union for. Mary said she was anxious to get more unity in the organisation of the Mothers’ Union. Her words were – “In the Constitution, Change as to Members, I am anxious for Members who are married in every class, and Associates who are unmarried women in every class – Those who have no children are considered Mothers, even if only step-mothers, and the childless wives have nearly always young people to whom they act as Mothers.”

Banners being processed
This one letter from Mary Sumner’s papers, illustrates beautifully the vision that Mary Sumner had for all women to be members of the Mothers’ Union.

Sitting there waiting for the service to begin, this letter made tears fill my eyes…….when I thought of the heartbreak over the Mothers’ Union in the late 1960’s. The needless angst which was caused, and still remains in some places today.

The Mothers’ Union is a World Wide Society of Christian women. The first in the World and the largest, with over four million members in 83 countries. Its Aim remains the same “The concern and loving support for marriage and family life”. There can be no better message to unite the women and men of our church today – That as members of the Mothers’ Union we can always carry out Mary Sumner’s vision of a world where a loving family is the best place for the children of our World to safely, and in God’s Love, grow strong, healthy and happy.

May God’s Love be with you all.

Joan Neild, Auckland Diocesan President


Held on 10 August 2016 at St Chad’s Meadowbank

Over 40 members and friends gathered early for the service and were able to enjoy morning tea together before moving into the church for the service.

After a welcome from the vicar of St Chad’s, Rev Kingsley Ponniah, the Diocesan President, Joan Neild led the service. Lessons were read by Maggie Davidson of Papatoetoe and Sheila Steffenson of Orewa, and intercessions led by the NZ Secretary of MU, Margaret Wilson.

MSL2Rev Mark Beale and his wife Barbara, who have recently completed some 30 years of service, establishing the new church of St Elizabeth in Clendon, South Auckland and continuing and expanding local missionary work there, spoke to us of their experiences and what they have learned from them.

Barbara began the address by describing their ministry to children in the district, which started when there was no church, but only a vicarage and a granny flat. Sunday school was held in the vicarage and the house quickly became a gathering place for the local children. Many had difficult lives, being expected to mind younger siblings while solo parents slept in after nights out. Some asked searching questions after learning about God through bible stories and songs, such as ‘Do you have feelings in heaven?’.

Later after church buildings had been constructed, a Samoan family joined the parish and introduced the concept of ‘White Sunday’, when children wear white clothing, recite passages of scripture which they have learned from memory, and take part in plays telling bible stories. This event became a very important focus and aid for developing children’s ministry.

The parish extended its mission to children in developing countries, by assembling shoeboxes of gifts for needy children, including something to wear (such as a T shirt), something to play with (such as a ball or frisbee), something for hygiene (soap and flannel), something for school (pencils or stationery), something special (e.g. sunglasses) and something to love (a soft toy). Each shoebox required also a donation of $9.00 to pay for postage overseas, and up to 35 shoeboxes were prepared each year.

Sometimes disruptive boys came to Sunday School – they were boys who often were told to leave their house in the morning and not come back until the street lights came on. It is likely that they came initially mainly for the food they might receive, but gradually they learned about God’s love through the example of how they were welcomed and through the various Christian activities that were held.

A second aspect of mission to children in the district was Barbara’s participation in the Bible in Schools programme. Many of the Pacific Islands children in schools had heard about God, but others had not. Bible stories, especially the story of Joseph, and especially Christian songs which the children enjoyed singing, are important ways to convey God’s love.
Further outreach from the church into the community took place with the formation of a Girls’ group. Barbara emphasised that if a person learns about God’s love as a child, then it is far more likely that he/she as an adult will turn to Christ.

MSL3Rev. Mark then continued the address by telling us something of the parish’s mission to those adults who for various reasons and to various degrees have fallen by the wayside. He emphasised that God enables us to become a new creation, and as people of the Church we need to become ambassadors of this belief, seeking out the lost sheep and showing compassion for the fallen, as Christ showed to the woman at the well. NZ has a comparatively high proportion of its population being sent to and returning to prison. The things that send people there are poverty, alcohol, drugs and an attitude of negativity which fills their minds and comes from the society which surrounds them. Such people become immune to the suffering which their behaviour brings to others.

There are two large prisons in the parish of Clendon; Rev. Mark felt it was part of his ministry in the district to convey God’s love to the people there. There are about 450 prisoners in the Wiri women’s prison, and he conducted Alpha courses, Sunday services, Passover meals and Bible studies there. Sometimes 40 -50 women attended voluntarily, which was a high proportion, since 200 or so were in a higher security section and were not allowed to attend. He gave some examples of the experiences he had had of women being gradually affected by the gospel of Christ (particularly through St John’s gospel), so that their attitude changed from being negative to being positive. He was able to convince one woman in particular that in the realm of God, there is no such thing as time and space. Christ was not just crucified the once – everytime we sin, we repeat the cause of his crucifixion, and she realised there was a reason for not sinning again.

Rev. Mark has been frequently asked to help prisoners with their release and support plans, including being the support person at formal parole hearings. This task is not be taken lightly, with judges asking probing questions. One prisoner he had helped in this way exclaimed when given parole ‘You are the only person who has given me support my whole life’, but then, what happens next? The prisoner is released back into a community which serves only to cause her to be put back inside again.

Another prisoner had been drawn into crime because she was taken advantage of by her employer, who knew she needed a letter from him to apply for residency in NZ. Rev. Mark was able to convey God’s love to her through her time of imprisonment and subsequent application for parole and then residency. He said that often we use too many words to try to get through to people – it is better to use fewer words of our own and allow the gospel of Christ to speak directly to those in need of help.

Rev. Mark continued by describing some of the work done in the men’s prison. He said that ‘you are not dealing with saints here’ and described how men’s lives become disfunctional because of alcohol, drugs, debt, a gang’s demands and temptation. He has always tried to provide a good role model to show a different picture of what it means to be a male. Some mothers and their children have no concept of a male being a parent in their everyday lives. They are of course aware that each child has a father, but they have had no experience of the concept of marriage, where a male is a husband and a caregiver in the home.

Many women prisoners have known nothing else than abuse from men, and common factors for all women in prison are alcohol, abuse and drugs. Rev. Mark held up a beautiful silver bracelet containing symbols of a prisoner’s Christian journey, (such as a fish and a cross) which he has been able to give to women prisoners. These bracelets have been made by a supporter who unfortunately will soon be moving out of Auckland. He is hopeful that someone else will pick up this wonderful idea to support prisoners who are learning to trust in Christ.

Once prisoners have been released, Rev. Mark explained that subsequent help offered to them needs to be unobtrusive. He sends one text of support by mobile phone to let the released prisoner know that someone cares about how they are managing, and it is up to him/her whether or not to reply.

It is very important that people in the church go out into the community to help the fallen, as Jesus did. Rev. Mark said that it is his passion to help the individual, but that sometimes in speaking out, he has been drawn into wider forms of support. For example after he had legally but unsuccessfully opposed the building of the men’s prison in his parish, he was drawn into becoming a member of the Community Advisory Panel which was established.

In working inside prisons, Rev. Mark said that he has always been a volunteer, and has done his best to keep people out of prison. It has been difficult to have much success with people with strong connections to a gang. When a prisoner is released, he/she is given $300, but it costs about $3,000 to initiate the renting of a flat in Clendon. Prisoners just cannot afford this unless they become involved again with criminal activities. They turn back to their old ways to survive financially. Sometimes women receive extra motivation to remain on the straight and narrow from wanting to retain custody of their children.

People who wish to serve as volunteers in prison have to go through an administrative and induction process. This is a slow process, taking anything from 6 months to more than a year. Once accepted as volunteers, they have to repeat the same induction course every three years. Visiting once a month is not frequent enough to get to know a prisoner. Rev. Mark visits every Thursday and some extra days as required. His work is supported by other volunteers, for whom this work can be very rewarding. They can see what a lot falls on the shoulders of Prison Chaplains. [At this point a member of the congregation enquired how to register interest in becoming a volunteer.]
Following an invitation from Rev. Mark to comment or ask questions, the following points were made in general discussion:

  • Singing Christian songs helps prisoners to develop a faith in God as much as it helps children
  • People need somewhere safe to go upon release, so that they do not fall in with a gang/the wrong group. It takes a great deal to break free from a gang – often it is the next generation who can help them to do so
  • Released prisoners need help to keep to their parole conditions – they can quickly forget what they have undertaken to do/not to do
  • Vicarage children need not suffer from growing up in a low decile area. As long as the values in their own home are good, they can become advantaged rather than disadvantaged, because they grow to be compassionate, understanding how difficult life can be for some people
  • The economic divide in society is increasing. For some people an extra $2 or $3 on a power bill can tip a family over financially
  • Rev. Mark has never given out money to people in need – he prefers to give in kind. If someone does misrepresent their circumstances to their advantage, one needs to ‘shake the dust off one’s feet’, because the next person who comes along will be a new person. One should never become embittered.
  • Much good work is done in the women’s prison by a quilters’ group. It is amazing how one ministry (teaching sewing) leads to other forms of ministry (teaching new behaviours and values when caring for children).

Rev. Mark and Barbara Beale were thanked for their amazingly encouraging talk and presented with gifts of fruit, baking and flowers.

The service concluded after a final, offertory hymn, and then people moved to the refectory, where a shared lunch was enjoyed. MU members returned to their homes with fresh inspiration to approach missionary work anew in their own community – to show God’s love to those less fortunate who live around us. Missionary work can be done at home, not just overseas.

130 years in NZ Celebration – Homily by Ven. Carole Graham, Christchurch Branch Leader

In the Name of God: Creator, Christ and Spirit. Amen

From all accounts Mary Sumner was a remarkable woman with a radical vision. She wanted to reach out in Christian love to those around her, whatever their background or standing in society. In 1876 she began gathering together young women from the village where she lived and where her husband was Vicar. Each week classes were held in the vicarage during which women were encouraged to raise their children in the Christian faith and to model family life on Christian teachings.

From such simple beginnings Mary’s vision caught on, grew and developed. Branches sprang up throughout the United Kingdom and – as we know – in 1886 a branch was formed right here in Avonside. Today, Mothers’ Union is a global organisation with over 4 million members worldwide, making it the largest organisation within the Anglican Communion. Those who belong to Mothers Union are part of a very diverse fellowship representing different talents, experiences, and needs. Even so, and despite the many things that could so easily keep them isolated and apart, members are united to each through prayer and by their shared commitment to reach out in Christian love to all people. Each day, at mid-day, for example, MU members are asked to pause, to refer to their Prayer Diary which they receive twice a year, and to pray for one other and for Diocesan groups around the world, thereby maintaining a24ft Wave of Prayer.

Understandably, the working out of Mary Sumner’s vision has undergone significant changes and growth over the years. As well as the emphasis on prayer, there’s now a strong commitment to providing practical support and promoting conditions in society that are favourable to stable family life and the protection of children. In this respect our members here in New Zealand share a common mission with AAW members. Together we seek to preserve the very best of family life and to ensure that the most vulnerable of our society are cared for in a safe and loving environment. And we do this through prayer, by social action, and advocacy; we turn our faith into action as we seek to live out the demands of the Gospel.

A number of years ago, and quite some time before he became a Bishop, I read an article by Kelvin Wright. What he wrote has stayed with me and has, I think, some relevance for us today. He said this: In the museum at Suva there is an ocean going canoe. It’s about 18 metres long and capable of sustaining a dozen people at sea for a few weeks at a time. It’s made of wood and plaited fibre and not one part of it has been shaped by anything made of metal.

It’s a work of extraordinary precision and beauty. Small blocks and pieces of tackle are placed for optimum usefulness. The hull is sleek and the triangular sail brilliantly sculptured. It’s fast and light, yet robust enough to withstand the roughest of seas. And – in vessels just like it – Polynesian sea-fearers sailed the Pacific. Using the position of the stars, the flight of birds, cloud shapes and the repeated patterns of waves, those ancient voyagers could predict the position of land from hundreds of miles away with absolute precision.

The knowledge of how to build these brilliant ocean-going crafts and of how to navigate them did not belong to any one person. Rather, it belonged to the whole community. And – as it passed from one generation to the next, subtle improvements in design were made. So adept were these Polynesian sea-farers that they were able to move at will across the length and breadth of the Pacific, trading and settling. But then – about 500 years ago – these ocean-going voyages just ceased. It seems that in one generation the knowledge flow just stopped and now, sadly, it’s beyond recovery.’

Sadly, what Bishop Kelvin relates is a common enough phenomenon. This loss of skills and stories and knowledge that have been built up over generations, can be and so easily are, lost forever simply because one generation didn’t care to pass them on to the next. And with them gone, the society or community that nurtured them, benefited from them, learnt from them, is at risk. Such a risk is ever-present and ever possible meaning, of course that things we take for granted are only ever a few generations away from extinction.

I was reminded of Bishop’s Kelvin article when, a few months ago, I watched a TV documentary in which Nigel Latta explored the reasons for the appalling rates of domestic violence and infant mortality in our country. He highlighted three re-occurring causes: poverty, alcohol, and successive generations of dysfunctional families with poor parenting skills. Each impacts on the other, resulting in situations and tragedies of which we are only far too aware. The sad truth is, for an increasing number of New Zealanders, family life as we know it and understand it, is not only a distant memory but also on the brink of extinction. It makes us realise – not only that all of us must share part of the blame, but also that we can and must do something about it.

Mary’s Sumner’s vision was a simple one: to reach out in love to those around her, whatever their background or standing in society. She began with the women from her village – teaching them how to raise their children in the Christian faith and how to model their families on Christian teachings. One hundred and forty years later and that vision is still being lived out.

Throughout the world, Mothers Union groups are proactively building and strengthening the faith of its members; promoting parenting programmes; teaching literacy and numeracy skills to those in deprived communities; campaigning against social injustices such as the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood. And so the list goes on.

But each of us – in our own way – can do much to preserve the very best of family life and to ensure a safe and loving environment for the most vulnerable of our society. Like it or not – it’s up to all of us, to pass on those things that have shaped and determined, defined and sustained so much of our culture and identity. It’s up to us to ensure that the skills and knowledge and stories that facilitate and encourage healthy family living are kept alive for generations to come.

Each day Mary Sumner put her vision into a prayer, saying the same words: It’s a well-known prayer and I leave it with you in the hope that we might make it our own.

All this day, O Lord,
let me touch as many lives as possible for thee;
and every life l touch,
do thou by thy Spirit quicken,
whether through the word I speak,
the prayer I breathe,
or the life I live. Amen.

Archbishop Justin Welby commissions Lynne Tembey as worldwide president of the Mothers’ Union at Lambeth Palace – 1 March 2016.

MU WWP and Archbishop
The Archbishop of Canterbury said he “praises God” for the Mothers’ Union during a service at Lambeth Palace last night to recommission Lynne Tembey as worldwide president of the global Anglican women’s organisation.

The service was attended by the Very Revd Nigel Godfrey, Dean of Peel Cathedral; Mothers’ Union chief executive Bev Jullien; the Mothers’ Union board of trustees; and Lambeth Palace and Anglican Communion Office staff.

Lynne Tembey was reappointed to be the worldwide president of the Mothers’ Union from 2016 to 2018, having first been appointed three years ago.
During the service Archbishop Justin Welby said: “The Mothers’ Union in so many places is an organisation that listens to the voices of weeping. Whether it’s in Burundi, the Congo or South Sudan; whether it’s in homes in cities where when the local football team loses there is a 50 percent increase in domestic violence; whether it is in the loneliness of weeping by people who are not suffering physically but are spiritually empty and lost; it is the Mothers’ Union that exists in the vision of Mary Sumner to speak of those things that God has provided that bring hope, help and a future.

Central to this vision, he said, is “an extraordinary movement to support the family.” “There has never been a time when the family was not a place that needed the light of Christ shining within it to become what God has called it to be. And you hold that treasure in your hands, and as we go to the reaffirmation that is part of the vision.”

He added: “But there is also such a need for global women’s groups. And you are among the most embedded, the most effective, the most widespread. There are few that can rival you – if any.”

Reflecting on United Nations research showing that no major civil conflict since 1945 has ended without the involvement of women’s groups, the Archbishop said the Mothers’ Union holds in its hands two aspects of “the most extraordinary treasure that God has brought together.”

“You are one of the greatest of women’s groups in the world, and you have the treasure of the gospel of reconciliation. What more could be needed to be transforming of the world in which we live?

“So. Nine-tenths of your work is hidden in the parishes and the dioceses, in the hills and the villages – doing the work of bringing hope and strengthening families, of supporting churches, of transforming communities.

“I pray that God will go on blessing you, and that your vision of the God who rises above all the fears, all the problems we face… will end with a vision of hope and confidence not in the Mother’s Union and this great heritage, not even in this wonderful vision, but in the God who underpins and secures it all.”

The Quiet Day 2015

Rev. KATENE ERUERA  BA MTheol LLB Dean of Tikanga Maori.

Dean of Tikanga Maori.

Members of the Mothers’ Union and of the Association of Anglican Women from all over Auckland attended their annual Quiet Day on 14 August at the College of St John the Evangelist, Meadowbank.

On this winter’s day, early arrivals were treated to a warming cup of tea or coffee and some tasty baking, before attending a Eucharist service in the College Chapel. This was taken by Rev. Katene Eruera, Dean of Tikanga Maori at the College, who gave a very warm welcome to all at the start of the service. A few moments of reflection were spent listening to a recording of Ella Fitzgerald singing ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’, a popular hymn with the encouraging line, so appropriate for Quiet Day, ‘Take it to the Lord in Prayer’. The Communion service then commenced, and the Gospel reading was John 15, 9-14, the bible passage which was to be studied closely later in the day. At intercession time Rev. Eruera suggested that the congregation offer quiet ‘prayer in pairs’. Following the administration of the sacraments, with Margaret Wilson as chalice-bearer, Rev. Eruera led the congregation in singing ‘Be still and know that I am God’. At the conclusion of the service, all returned to the hall for announcements and the Lectio Divina bible study.

Iritana Hankins, NZ Provincial President of MU, extended a welcome to all, and remembered faithful members of MU who had passed away recently, Elizabeth Skerritt, Irene Hobday and Gwen Blackburn, whose funeral was to be held that very afternoon. She also recounted some experiences when attending the world-wide AGM of MU, attended by MU leaders of some 26 nations, many of whom came from countries where there is no freedom to enjoy a relationship with our Lord. The chief concerns of these women were just to be able to stay alive, to be able to pray, and to be able to see their families again. Iritana was called, along with the other world leaders, to sign a 2014 statement of what MU means. She recalled that the thought came to her that what she was being asked to do was similar to what Maori chiefs had done in signing the Treaty of Waitangi, and much moved by the occasion, she sang ‘E te Atua kua ruia nei. Opura pura pai’ – Lord, you have sown your good seeds . . . before signing the statement.

Margaret Wilson, Auckland MU secretary, described an earlier MU conference held in Johannesburg, where a formal MU service held in the Town Hall became a spirited occasion after the Bishop encouraged demonstration of how people were feeling.

Joan Neild recounted some of the experiences she had when the MU Worldwide President, Lynne Tembey, visited Tonga recently, including attending functions in the presence of the Tongan princess, visiting St Andrew’s School and waking at 5 a.m. to be taken to watch the sun rise. The Tongan hospitality from the two MU groups was magnificent. Back in NZ, Joan and other NZ MU leaders joined Lynne in Christchurch. Our prayers need to be with the people still in Christchurch, for much of the city is still not restored, and many people have left the city. Beverley Berwick, MU member from Te Kauwhata, has quietly got on with helping Christchurch people by making some 810 pairs of crocheted slippers to send to the Christchurch City Mission in the last two years.

Next Rev. Katene Eruera was welcomed as leader of the scriptural reading day. He read the bible passage through and also the instructions for the process to be followed to study the reading closely – in pairs before lunchtime, and thereafter in groups of 6-8. He explained that in closely examining words and phrases and sentences from the reading, our role was to listen to God. The reading to be studied had come from the Lectionary for the day, and the saint associated with the day was St Maximillian Koble, a Polish priest who at Auschwitz in 1941, had given up his life for a fellow prisoner who was a family man. This is an apt choice for a day when the reading includes ‘No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’.

Rev. Eruera explained that the process of Lectio divina is a spiritual discipline, and is designed to still the mind, so that it can be in contact with God. In taking part, people make themselves vulnerable; they need to trust God and each other, and feel safe enough to do so.

So in pairs, people read through John 15, 9-14, and identified words that stood out for them – words such as ‘joy’, ‘commandment’, ‘love’, ‘abide’, ‘Father’ and ‘friend’.
To summarise before lunch, Rev Eruera described how phrases such as ‘love one another as I have loved you’, can open our whole heart to dialogue, so that we feel ‘This is what the Spirit moves me to say’. He was reminded of C.S. Lewis’ book, ‘The Four Loves’ – affection (as for a pet), friendship (with a person), romantic love, and God’s unconditional love. He asked God’s blessing on what we would be reading and discussing after lunch, and then everyone sang Grace.

After lunch, all present formed groups and endeavoured to engage in the process of spiritual discipline that is Lectio divina, opening hearts and minds to God. This exercise produced much discussion about the depth of meaning in the reading, leaving everyone able to take a word or phrase away from the study to meditate on and pray with.

The busy afternoon of concentrated study came to an end with all groups rejoining for concluding comments and to say the Grace together.

Chapel at the College of St John, the Evangelist

Chapel at the College of St John, the Evangelist

Mary Sumner Lecture Poster

RSVP for catering purposes, by 8th May, would be appreciated – to Margaret, or phone 521 1229

Mothers’ Union Worldwide President to Visit New Zealand from 15th – 29th May 2015


Mrs Lynne Tembey – Biography

Married to David a parish priest, living on the east coast of England, she has been blessed all her life to be part of fantastic caring communities. Lynne and David have four grown children, Kathryn, Christopher, Rebecca and Hannah, they are blessed with five grandchildren (Charlotte – 9 years, Daniel – 5 years, Lucas – 5 years, Francheska – 4 years, Polly – 2 years), wonderful gifts from God.

Lynne has been a member of Mothers’ Union since 1979. In the early 1980’s she heard former Central President Rachel Nugee speak and became even more excited about this amazing, life changing organisation. She has been privileged to know and work alongside inspiring leaders: Hazel Treadgold, Pat Harris, Christine Eames, Trish Heywood and Rosemary Kempsell as well as hardworking groups of trustees.

Lynne has served almost every level of leadership within Mothers’ Union from Branch to Diocesan Trustee, Provincial President and Central Trustee to Worldwide President. In 2009 she was privileged the Special Regional Meeting in Lusaka, Zambia and Provincial Presidents’ Conference, meeting with Mothers’ Union Leaders from regions of the world. A great joy and inspirational experience as Worldwide President was planning and being part of the Provincial Presidents’ Conference in 2014.

Lynne has had many opportunities to network with many Bishops and other Church Leaders, through invites to speak with Bishop’s Spouses, various Methodist & Roman Catholic ladies groups as well as attending Consecrations, including Bishop Welby’s in 2011 and his Enthronement March 2013 as Archbishop Canterbury.

In Lynne’s words: “God has enabled so much on my Christian journey, to be the elected Worldwide President of this life giving, life changing organisation is such a privilege and truly humbling experience. I look forward with hope and with joy to what God has planned for me in the future. He has never failed me, I cannot fail him”.

Archbishop of Canterbury


20 August 2014

Mother’s Union
lritana Hankins
20 Mataroa Road

E nga rangatira o Mother’s Union, tena koutou katoa

Re: Visit of the Archbishop of Canterburv, August 2014

The recent visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Church of The Holy Sepulchre was truly a splendid occasion. An event of this magnitude requires many people working behind-the-scenes doing a multitude of different things. This aligned very well with what the Archbishop preached that evening in that many strands were woven together as one. This was made particularly evident with the cooperation of organisations and individuals, like yourselves, involved in the Evensong service. This collective input has led to what can simply be deemed as an extremely successful event indeed!

The Anglican Maori Mission, Te Mihana Maori o Tamaki Makaurau, would like to express their immense gratitude to the Mother’s Union for the impressive bouquets of flowers that adorned the Church of The Holy Sepulchre for the Archbishop of Canterbury’s visit to Aotearoa. The beautiful arrangements that greeted our esteemed guests from the moment they entered our doors were splendid indeed. They were certainly a highlight suitable for such an auspicious occasion. Guests were extremely impressed and they continue to comment today about the grandeur of the church that evening. We can all be very proud to have revived some of the Church’s long time splendour, made possible by the love and generosity of the Mother’s Union also.

Holy Sepulchre flowers

Please know that the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia and Te Mihana Maori o Tamaki Makaurau acknowledge the willing contributions of the Mother’s Union and that we wish you all, every blessing. It was a pleasure to have you all with us at this wonderful gathering with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby and his wife Carolyne.

Once again, thank you so very much for your support and willing response to assist Te Mihana Maori with its mission to its communities. Grace and peace to you all.

Sincerely yours,

The Venerable Lloyd Popata
Archdeacon Tamaki Makaurau
Te Mihana Maori o Tamaki Makaurau

Provincial Presidents Conference Statement

MU PP Conference 2014
Mothers’ Union is at work in 83 countries and 34 provinces in the Anglican Communion. Over the week of 27th October 2014 we, the international leaders of Mothers’ Union, representative of 26 provinces, have met to pray and worship together, to share experiences, and to plan for the future with the theme “A Goal To Celebrate”.

We share a vision of a world where God’s love is shown through loving, respectful and flourishing relationships. We are committed to expressing our Christian faith in the transformation of families and communities. We will achieve this by promoting the importance of marriage, supporting families and nurturing faith; with members sensitively spreading the news of a God who loves and cares for us all.

We affirm three clear and consistent strands to our work common to Mothers’ Union throughout the world.

Firstly, the centrality of prayer. At the heart of Mothers’ Union is prayer and worship which inspires all our work in families and communities, locally, nationally, and globally.

Secondly, we will enable individuals, families, and communities to discover and use the gifts, skills and knowledge they possess, which are culturally relevant and appropriate for their circumstance. Our activities aim to nurture reconciliation, relationships, communication and practical skills to foster a sense of belonging, meaning and interdependence.

Thirdly, we challenge the mechanisms and behaviours that perpetuate social injustices, such as gender based violence, that adversely affect family life. In advocating policy reform we will develop understanding and create dialogue which will influence public opinion locally, nationally and globally.

To achieve these goals we commit to loving, respectful and flourishing relationships with one another; sharing our resources and working together in our partnership in the Gospel.

We recognise that as diverse as our cultures and ways of working may be, we now return to our homes determined, energised, inspired and united by our faith and the experiences we have shared.

Signed the 2nd November, 2014.

Northern and Central Archdeaconry MeetingPatBawden

Selwyn Village on Tuesday 8th July

We all blew in on the wind as we gathered for an informative meeting of Mothers Union members in the Music room at Selwyn Village.

The business side of the meeting was followed by a very informative talk by Rev Pat Bawden. She spoke of her story and subsequent research and writing of the book ‘The Years before Waitangi’.
She enlightened us on the role Samuel Marsden played in the establishment of the first European/Maori settlement in Aotearoa.
Her enthusiasm for the Centre being established at the Marsden Cross in the Bay of Islands will encourage us to make the pilgrimage to that sacred place. Especially this year, being the bicentenary.

After a shared lunch we adjourned to the chapel for a reflective time of prayer and Holy Communion.

Pat Bawden’s book is available from Lesley Anderson P.O. Box 37944, Parnell, Auckland 1051

The Mothers’ Union and AAW Quiet DaySt Johns College

St John’s College, Meadowbank, 19 June 2014

All who attended this day were embraced by a warm atmosphere of friendship and grace. After the usual bustle through Auckland’s morning traffic, it was calming to be welcomed by smiling representatives of our two organizations serving hot tea and coffee and a bite to eat.

Revd Iritana Hankins, the NZ Provincial President of MU, then extended a very gracious welcome to all, and especially to those MU representatives who had travelled from afar – Revd Fagamalama Matalavea (Archdeacon Tai) from Samoa, and Diocesan Presidents Revd Carol Graham, from Christchurch, Rosemary Bent from New Plymouth, and Heather Dawson from Wellington. She also welcomed those people from Auckland, Diocesan President Joan Neild, and representative officers of the AAW.

Bishop Kito had sent his apologies, as he had been called elsewhere, and Iritana explained that the Bishop had arranged for Revd Katene Eruera, Dean of Tikanga Maori at St John’s College, to be leading the day in his stead.

Once everyone was seated in the Chapel, Rev Eruera gave a warm welcome to the College, and in mentioning that the Chapel had been built in 1846, invited all to steep themselves in the atmosphere of a place which had seen so many generations of people who have kept the faith pass though its doors. The students in the College around us, he said, were at present deeply engaged in writing assignments on theological topics – it was that time of the year.

The eucharist service began, with experiences presented to heighten the meaning of Corpus Christi Day for all. Revd Eruera had explained that this day was very important to those in the Anglican church who believed that the consecrated bread and wine formed the real body and blood of Christ.  All were invited to stand around the font prior to the readings, and to pass on, one to another, a sign of the cross made in water on the forehead in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – such a vivid reminder of our beginning as Christians. There was then a progression to the Lectern end of the Chapel, for two readings: Genesis 14:18, 1 Corinthians 11:23, followed by a hymn ‘Be still and know that I am God’ and the Gospel  reading, John 6:51.

Revd Eruera began his sermon with the question, ‘What are the first four words in the bible?’ and the answer quickly came ‘In the beginning, God.’ That he said, was the essence of faith, and after humans had given in to temptation and had had to withdraw from the Garden, all scripture written since then has served to invite us back into that Garden – because of God’s absolutely unconditional love. As C.S. Lewis wrote, we can conceive of four ‘loves’ – Affection, Friendship, Romance, and God’s love.  The fourth love is unconditional, unlike our human love, which sometimes demands conditions. The invitation to us to partake of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist, is our invitation to come into the Garden, and to experience the full embrace of God’s unconditional love.

Intercessions followed, with pauses for people to pray aloud for God’s care, as the Spirit moved them. Then all moved to the eastern end of the Chapel, to stand close to the altar for the Great Thanksgiving – such a moving experience after the readings and sermon we had heard. After the administration and Prayer after Communion, Revd Eruera blessed several prayer shawls made by an AAW member, which were to be sent around New Zealand and across the world.

By 11.40 a.m. all had moved back to the assembly room, where Revd Iritana invited all to introduce themselves and speak briefly about something close to their heart before a break was taken for lunch.  This proved to be a very moving time, as we learned something of the faith and family journeys of those present – both MU and AAW members. Much overlap of experience was evident, and it was realized how much we have in common and what opportunity lies before us to work with one another.

After lunch, groups worked together on an exercise entitled ‘Lectio Divina’ (Latin for ‘spiritual reading’).  In small circles people took turns to read one verse each of an allocated passage, to meditate upon the passage for a short while, then to speak out a word or short phrase that stood out for them. This process was repeated twice more, with opportunity for each person to read different verses each time, and after brief periods of silence for meditation, to join in dialogue about what had come up from the readings. This concentrated period of study concluded with a short prayer.

Our Quiet Day had come to an end. All (some 32 attended) were able to set out for home with minds full of stimulating thought and prayer. This day certainly proved to be a powerful preparation for the Diocesan and Provincial Presidents before their meeting the next day.

The MU and AAW express their grateful thanks to St John’s College and to Revd Katene Eruera in particular, for enabling them to share a wonderful spiritual experience together.

It’s Beautiful

An impression of a visit to the Sea of Galilee, made prior to the Holy Land Tour of 2014.
‘It’s beautiful’
The Jewish driver’s words said it all through his microphone
As I boarded his crowded bus alongside the Sea of Galilee this morning
His words ignored by dozens of young soldiers slouched across the seats
Lost in another world after a full night’s duty somewhere
Their machine guns loosely resting across their laps
Arabs and other passengers seemingly oblivious to the dangers
Redefining for me what is taken for normal in this divided community

The early morning sunlight
Catching the silhouettes of the distant hills
Puffs of wind gently rippling the water in the distance
The black cormorants diving on a shoal of fish further out
Just still and peaceful
Beautiful indeed

This Lake has been so important to me this past week
Catching the full range of its moods
Still days with clear reflections catching the early sunrise
The sunset colours of the sky
The sounds of Gospel choruses from a tourist fishing boat
The jump of a St Peter’s fish catching a fly
The gentle lapping of the waves on the stony shore
The windy days with restless waters and overcast skies
The stormy days with claps of thunder and lightening
Watching the band of heavy rain scudding across the lake towards me

The Lake reflects so much the moods of daily life
The tourists come and go but the lake remains
Telling its story of Jesus’ presence here two thousand years ago
Sharing his love and healing, touching people at the deepest levels
Teaching the crowds another way
Giving them glimpses of what the Kingdom of heaven was about
But leaving them make their own choices and decisions

It’s beautiful, very beautiful
The driver’s words said it all and he smiled at me
He knew at least one person had heard him
Had understood, agreed and now shared his joy

© Michael Earle
November 15 2011
TR 52 It’s beautiful

On the Shoulders of Giants

Bishop Andrew

Bishop Andrew Proud reflects on the important place Mothers’ Union has played – and continues to play – in the lives of individuals and the wider Church.

I have only been a member since May 2013, but I have worked with Mothers’ Union for years and especially over the nine years we were in Ethiopia with Anglican missionary organisation USPG. You may not know this, but the average Anglican today is
26 years old, black, female and African – and, like as not, a member of Mothers’ Union. Which means that we are the beating heart of the Anglican Communion!

Our Mothers’ Union group in Ethiopia was extraordinary. Members were already active when we got there, visiting the sick and bereaved in the horrendous prisons on the border with South Sudan, and teaching family values. But I shall never forget how, at the end of a long, hot, sticky, dusty journey by car, on a visit to an outlying mission station, it was the Mothers’ Union members, dressed in their uniforms, who washed our feet with the precious water they’d carried a mile from the nearest river. It made you want to cry – because you knew that they would have to make that journey back to the same river to fetch water that evening for their families. And I shall never forget how, when the men had got themselves locked into playing out deep clan rivalries in church meetings, and were threatening each other with actual bodily harm, it was often Mothers’ Union members who stood up to them to challenge the ungracious, ungodly, foolish behaviour. They saved many every day.

That’s why I’m proud to be a member of the Mothers’ Union and now to be Chaplain to the Central Mothers’ Union. You could say I’ve come late to the party, and you’d be right. But I don’t mind admitting that much of what we achieved together in Ethiopia was down to the mothers there – young and old. When I come to think of it, they didn’t only wash our feet – we stood on their shoulders too, just as the Church stands on the shoulders of Mothers’ Union everywhere. And I want to thank you, for all that you do; for your obedience to the loving will of God. And I pray that it will always be your food – and my food – as it was Jesus’ food, to do the will of him who sent him. As love was his meaning, so may it be ours.

Endorsement printed in ‘Families Worldwide’, Number 13 Issue 1.14
(Mothers’ Union resources for prayer and action)


THE MARY SUMNER ROSERegistration name is McAstra
Exhibition name is Mary Sumner
Bred by Samuel Daragh McGredy IV
in NZ 1976.

  • Floribunda rose
  • Flowers are orange
  • Clusters of semi-double flowers
  • Tall bush rose
  • Mild fragrance

This rose is reputed to be a vigorous grower, and will climb if encouraged. No doubt it will respond differently to varying conditions throughout New Zealand.
Following mission fundraising sales by Wellington AAW, it is now available through the Auckland Diocesan MU. Last year’s stock has been exhausted, and further orders for supply in the winter/spring of 2014 can be placed by contacting Joan Neild, email or phone 09 426-3647.
It is aimed to deliver a bulk supply of orders at the celebration of Mary Sumner Day (9th August) which this year will be the Missions Day at St Andrew’s Church, Kohimarama on Friday the 8th.
Let’s paste Mary Sumner roses all over New Zealand. They are selling them in Australia too.