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The King’s Centre Oxford June 22nd 2024 Reports/Responses and Homily




Jacky Fredrickson

On 22nd June 2024 the Mothers’ Union in the Canterbury Province held a Provincial day at the King’s centre in Oxford. This was the first of its kind, so there was a degree of uncertainty about how well it would be attended and whether the outlay would be covered by ticket sales. I believe that it was and an impressive number of over 300 people attended from across the Province.


The idea was to provide a day that would be faith led, informative and fun, and to fill a gap as the next Annual gathering in B+I is not until 2026, when the 150th Anniversary will be celebrated.


It was a full day, with presentations and displays from the four Diocese clusters of South East (very slick!) Anglia (very informative), Midlands (great fun) and the South West (rather impromptu, but no less informative)


It included opening prayers, a Midday Eucharist led by Provincial Chaplain Emma Ham-Riche and closing prayers. Other items included an inspiring presentation on Hymns we love’ with Pippa and Steve Cramer and a very entertaining Comedian-Andy Kind. The day concluded with the Provincial President, Kathryn Anderson giving updates and new (which might have been better placed at the start of the day, or at least before the comedian)


I was pleased to have produced some poster pictures of our AFIA trips to Weston for the SW Cluster display, and displayed our Domestic Abuse banner. At extremely short notice I spoke about our support of the homeless through the work of the Blonde Angels. It was well received.


I am indebted to Jim for driving myself, Christine and Helen (from Chipping Sodbury) in comfort and safety. It was a good day!


I now attach short articles from others from Bristol Diocese who were also there. It was lovely to be so well represented.


It was great to be part of a day where we could celebrate and rejoice at all that is accomplished through MU…. there was such a wealth of diverse projects and ideas across the province where we are truly being the hands of Jesus. I loved the mix of worship, fellowship, information & fun. These last two were so fabulously combined in the bingo game from the Midlands Custer. Hilariously yet sensitively presented, this was a great way of learning so much with a constant smile on your face.


Jim Bradshaw

The provincial day seemed to me a great success, with opportunity to discover what other areas are focusing on. Below, Gill speaks about ‘Hymns We Love’ which was a fine presentation on using familiar worship music in innovative ways. The only slight detraction, from an overall successful day of fellowship, worship and inspiration, was the poor scheduling of "Thoughts for Next Year" after Andy Kind's spot, at the end of the afternoon when attendees were getting ready to go home.

SW Cluster presentation


Gill Beer

Just thought I would share my thoughts with you about the 'Provincial Day'. Firstly, I really enjoyed the day and left not just encouraged but proud to be part of Mothers Union because the amount of work that is going on is amazing. A lot of the initiatives are not massive; it has just taken a small group of women to see a need and to step out in faith. However, it was the 'Hymns We Love' session that impressed me. A lot of our churches concentrate on the children and young families which is good and the only way we will keep the churches growing BUT not much is being done for the older people in our communities. This course is designed to introduce the older generation to Christianity or to refresh their long forgotten beliefs. It is not in depth like Alpha, as the sessions only last around 15 minutes and the accompanying DVD has lovely images. It could be used in care / nursing homes or dementia clubs or even Branch meetings etc. It does what it says on the box, it uses well-loved hymns to communicate the core truths of Christianity in a way that is gentle, warm and clear.

I am certainly going to buy a leader’s pack for my Branch / Church and attach the order details below


Valerie Bishop

It was a lovely sunny day when four of Bristol West Deanery set out to drive to Oxford. After a pleasant drive on the M4¸ we reached Oxford and the directions to the Centre were easy to follow. Our destination turned out to be an industrial complex but when we arrived at The King’s Centre we found a wonderful modern Conference Venue. The Reception Desk on arrival greeted us and as we signed in a pre-printed name label was ready to collect. A welcome cup of coffee awaited us, and we sat down to join in with the happy conversations that surrounded us. This

was my first time at such a joyful large gathering of Mother’s Union members.

It was a well-planned day with four Clusters given an opportunity to present the ongoing work of their Dioceses. There were two presentations in the morning and two in the afternoon. Our own Bristol Diocese, part of the South West Cluster, told of their work with the Blonde Angels and Jacky our President received an enthusiastic applause from the Bristol members. ‘Hymns we Love’ a presentation by Pippa and Steve Cramer was also part of the morning session. The Midday Eucharist Service ended the morning session.

It was very moving and inspirational to see so many members receiving the Holy Communion. The afternoon session included an opportunity to relax and enjoy Andy Kind a comedian. This was time to laugh and to have fun, following the serious presentations of the day.


The Provincial President concluded the day by giving an Update and after Any Other Business the meeting closed with prayers and the Grace. There was a happy buzz of friendship and encouragement as members left the complex.

Our little group had a wonderful relaxing drive home through the countryside avoiding the M4!

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My dear friends,


I hope that this finds you well. At last the weather is beginning to feel a little more like summer. The sea of umbrellas on the television for the King’s Birthday Trooping of the Colour was a lesson to be stoical and to carry on, regardless! What a splendid spectacle of precision and colour it was, despite the rain. We wish the King and the Princess of Wales well in their cancer journeys. I’m sure many of us can identify with the effects of chemotherapy as the Princess of Wales described. May they both soon be well again, and to those of you who are unwell, have had recent surgery or broken bones, may God bless you with a swift recovery.


I am delighted to announce that we have some new Trustees in our Diocese. We are very grateful to Rosemary Spada (Brislington), Gill Beer (Oldland), Valerie Bishop (Henleaze) and Jim Bradshaw (Yate) for stepping up. I know that they will be a great addition to our leadership team. As this is the last year in this Triennium several of the current leaders will be stepping down, so we are looking for a new President, Vice President (Bristol end), some Deanery leaders, Treasurer, and a Minute Secretary. Rev Chris Dobson will also be stepping down as Chaplain. If you think you know someone who would be suitable for any of these roles, please get in touch with me. I have nomination forms.


A huge thank you to Linda Rawlings who has been looking after our valued Indoor members and

leading our faith and prayer group. Valerie Bishop will now be taking over some of the Indoor Member Communication. Linda will continue to lead a brilliant team on prayer and faith. Thank you for the thoughtful prayers and worship that you prepare for us.


We have made great strides in the Bristol Diocese, transforming and growing into an organisation that is actively caring for families and for the vulnerable in society. The latest news is of 6 coaches that have been booked to take families to Weston-Super-Mare in the summer holidays. To fund raise for that, Yate Branch is holding a Cream Tea and Promises Auction on Friday 19th July from 2pm at St Mary’s Yate. All of you will be welcome to that.


I look forward to seeing some of you at the Provincial Gathering in Oxford next Saturday 22nd June. It should be a good day.


Our membership numbers are just about stable, which is a huge development, and I thank you all and welcome all new members. We are taking on the Central Mothers’ Union challenge for growth and I’m looking forward to sharing more of our ideas and thoughts at the Autumn Gathering on October 12th.

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We are looking at growth of numbers of members and even more importantly, growth of ourselves as disciples, growing towards becoming the people God would like us to be.

I have enjoyed attending two Deanery Festivals this month. It is wonderful to have the opportunity to gather with a common purpose, to worship and enjoy fellowship together. I am enormously proud also of three of our Branches who have achieved the Bronze Award in the RISE UP Challenge.

Congratulations to Horfield, Corsham and Yate as they receive their certificates. Any Branch or

Church can apply for this, and I have a ‘Step by step guide’ available for anyone who would like more details.


I am also happy to come to Branches or Churches, by arrangement, to talk about the RISE UP against Domestic Abuse Campaign. I would like to be able to say that I have visited every branch, where possible, before the end of the year. If I haven’t been to visit you yet, please get in touch.


Presenting the RISE UP Bronze Award Certificate to Carolyn from Horfield Branch. Please note the new Diocesan flag ‘Wendy’s Flag’ in the background! This flag, donated by Jim Bradshaw in memory of his wife Wendy, is available to borrow for any MU event that you might be planning.

(Something to think about! We have been asked to start planning special events for the 150th Anniversary of Mothers’ Union in 2026- ideas welcome!)


Special greetings to our many Diocesan members. It has been lovely to see you at some of our events, at our Spring Gathering and at the Cathedral lunchtime Eucharist on the first Thursday each month. I will just mention that as Diocesan members you are, of course, eligible to apply for any of the leadership roles as described.


Work towards the new South West Cluster MU is going well with a great deal of legal detail, Bristol ably headed up by Rev Sarah Wyman. There will be a separate newsletter for all members in all the 8 SW Dioceses being sent out shortly with all the information about the changes that will happen from next year. I don’t believe that it will make any noticeable difference at Branch or member level, apart from that the payment of subscriptions by Direct Debit will become an option, making life much easier for Treasurers at every level.


This comes, as always, with my love and prayers for your wellbeing, peace and joy that comes from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. God Bless you xxx


Jacky

Jacky Fredrickson MU Diocesan President Bristol


Reflection

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the

wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19


God of unchanging power, your Holy Spirit enables us to proclaim your love in challenging times and places. Give to all members of the Mothers’ Union steadfastness, fresh understanding, and a clear vision, that together, we may continue the mission to which we are called. Amen.

MU June Prayer.


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Here in the UK, my personal opinion is that many of this population hope that this summer the economy continues to improve. Along with that, Many people will hope that their own financial position will improve.

The rate of inflation has fallen, but not the prices which remain high. Please do not confuse the two things. It is unlikely that with perhaps a few notable exceptions, prices will remain high. But what is a high price?


In some countries people who make or supply things that we moan about the price of, cannot afford to buy the things they export to us.


In places in Africa, Like the Democratic Republic of Congo, what we in the UK consider poor or in poverty, would be considered comfortably off. They would be able to feed a family and send children to school.


The Mothers' Union (MU) Summer of Hope Campaign aims to help at least some of these women. Many women in African countries are illiterate. An initiative of the MU is to improve literacy and numeracy amongst women. This in turn helps them understand some basic business and agricultural skills.


Where this has already been tried it has lead to improvements in living standards for many African women and their families. Some have started small businesses. In UK terms, maybe they'd be considered micro business. But this tiny business raise women's independence and reduce dependence. Their children are healthier and once they have a small business, after some time they are often able to expand their business. This in turn helps not only their own family but frequently their villages as they are able to offer work to other women, so supporting more poor families.


This 2024 Summer, the Mothers' Union wants to build on their work that is already helping transform the lives of women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa.

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