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‘Be a voice of hope in difficult times’ – D&G Mothers’ Union Service hears

Mothers’ Union and the Church of Ireland must be a voice of hope in difficult times. This was the message to members of Dublin & Glendalough Mothers’ Union heard at their annual Diocesan Festival Service in Christ Church Bray last Thursday evening (September 10). The Rector, the Revd Baden Stanley, said that now more than ever, the Church of Ireland and the wider community needed the family supports offered by Mothers’ Union. But he said both the Church and Mothers’ Union may have to change how they engage with people.

‘Be a voice of hope in difficult times' – D&G Mothers' Union Service hears
‘Be a voice of hope in difficult times' – D&G Mothers' Union Service hears

Archbishop Michael Jackson presided at the service which was attended by representatives from across Dublin & Glendalough. While the size of the congregation was restricted, the service was recorded and is available to watch on the Dublin and Glendalough Mothers’ Union YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/QVd3fKyrrSg 

The Diocesan President, Karen Nelson, read the Epistle and during the service three trustees were commissioned. Rachel Devlin was commissioned to the office of Vice President for Fundraising and Communications. Ann Mulligan was commissioned as coordinator for Finance and Central Committees. Rom Olusa was commissioned as coordinator for Faith and Policy.

The theme for Mothers’ Union for the coming year is ‘Building Hope and Confidence’. The Rector tied this in with Disestablishment as the Church of Ireland commemorates the 150th anniversary of its disestablishment.

He suggested that the Church of Ireland faces similar challenges now as it did 150 years ago when its status and connection within the State was changed. “I don’t think we can fully grasp the shock felt by the Church of Ireland community when their whole sense of identity was married to being the established church and the connection to the Church of England. It had repercussions for years to come,” he commented.

Mr Stanley observed that now members of the Church of Ireland were very comfortable with being disestablished. Part of the reason for this is that we have come to see the benefits of the situation, he said. Growing up in the countryside, he recalled the reticence within the Church of Ireland community. “We didn’t put our heads above the parapet,” he said. However, he added that over the years they had built hope and confidence and now “we can be a voice of hope in times of difficulty”.

He said he had gained an insight into the passion of Mary Sumner and her clear vision for the need for Mothers’ Union. That movement has grown into itself with bonds and connections across the world.

“I’ve loved watching in recent years Mothers’ Union growing in confidence as we become aware of the calling that is on our lives and our community to nurture and pray for all who are struggling with family life. There has never been a greater need for this. We don’t know if the Church of Ireland is going to be here in this form. Everything is changing under our feet. There is a shift as seismic as Disestablishment. The way that we do and be church is not connected the way it needs to be. It is the same for Mothers’ Union. We need to be creative,” he stated.

He said that what both the Church and Mothers’ Union offered was still needed but as we emerge into a new reality, we are “woefully unprepared”.

“The vision is right but the model may need tweaking,” he explained. “We may need to go back to the drawing board in how we do church, in how we do Mothers’ Union. The world is changing and we lack the ability to bring people closer to God. The example Jesus gave us is one of servant and surrender and therein lie the roots of what we have to offer. What is important is what God does with and alongside people.”