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The Mothers' Union are a worldwide Christian charity of women and men. We support families in need locally and worldwide through prayer and action in 84 countries. We welcome everybody both female and male, single and divorced, parents, non-parents and grandparents. Married, separated and divorced.


We were established in 1876 by Mary Sumner and our Bristol Diocese Mothers' Union joined the national movement in 1898.

Mary, originally from Lancashire, was the third of four children. She was home educated, learning three languages and apparently had a good singing voice. 

Mary started the Mothers’ Union in the Victorian era in 1876, not as most people might expect, when she became a mother herself, but when her oldest daughter, Margaret, had her first child. We can only guess how hard Mary found motherhood herself.

It seems to have been the birth of Mary’s grandchild, coupled with her memory of how hard she had found motherhood and a mother’s natural wish to make life a little easier for her daughter, that prompted Mary to take the initial steps that established what would become the Mother’s Union.

The work Mothers' Union does today includes:

  • Marriage & relationship support

  • Dealing with problems of poverty of opportunity

  • Vocational Training

  • Health education

  • Care for vulnerable adults

  • Supporting refugees and asylum seekers

  • Prison work

  • Community support

  • Advocacy and campaigning

  • Supporting parents at the children's hospital

  • Away From It All (AFIA) days out

  • Projects for local and overseas hospitals

  • Cathedral welcoming


Images of Mary Sumner are few.

Bristol members support out diocesan projects by volunteering, raising funds or donating.

Mary Sumner House

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