Members of Mothers’ Union branches from across the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe gathered at the See House in Londonderry this afternoon for a prayer service to mark Mary Sumner Day, when the organisation remembers the woman who founded it 140 years ago this year. Diocesan President, Mary Good, reminded those present that 2017 was also the 130th anniversary of Mothers’ Union in Ireland.
Mrs Good had hoped that the 'Called by Name' service would take place in the picturesque Quiet Garden at the See House, but an unpromising weather forecast put paid to that ambition. Instead a marquee was erected on the lawn and the service took place there, led by the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Ken Good.
Around one hundred people took part, with music provided by the Northern Lights Choir.
The address was given by the Bishop’s Curate in charge of the Moville Group of Parishes, Rev Suzanne Cousins. It ranged from the thoughts of biblical scholars to lyrics by the American rap group, the Black Eyed Peas. Rev Cousins told the congregation that in the Kingdom of God, barriers of gender and ethnicity were demolished. “God’s grace is for all,” she said. “Jesus then calls us all. He builds not walls but bridges and we have the privilege of being co-workers with him in this great building project.”
Rev Cousins said Jesus cared for the care-givers, and that same recognition was, she suggested, what kick-started Mothers’ Union all those years ago – Mary Sumner’s Christ-like compassion and recognition that family care-givers also needed healing and nurturing in faith and love. “That’s what Mothers Union today, as a ministry of the church, is about: bridge-building and care-giving for the Kingdom of God. And so are we. Healing, wholeness and salvation are what Jesus Christ came to bring, and they’re what Mothers’ Union is about, they’re what the mission of the Church is all about.”
During the service, members of the congregation were invited to fix their names - written on pieces of paper - to a tree at the front of the marquee, symbolising that they themselves had been 'called by name' to serve the Lord.
As the service drew to a close, Kay Clarke, a former President of the Diocesan Mothers’ Union, presented Mrs Good and Bishop Ken with a ruby rose to mark the couple’s 40th wedding anniversary, which they celebrated recently.
Afterwards, those present enjoyed refreshments in the marquee and, in some cases, wandered into the nearby Quiet Garden, to enjoy the serenity and beauty there. Bishop Good also led the assembly in two separate renditions of ‘Happy Birthday’, to mark significant milestones in the lives of two of the ladies present.