First diocesan meeting for Mothers' Union

The first event of the Mothers' Union for the Diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales took place at the Cedar Court Hotel in Harrogate this week.

Over 200 women (plus a few men, including Bishop James Bell), gathered to worship and hear speaker Margaret Sentamu. It was organised by the Joint Diocesan Presidents (MU presidents of the former three dioceses) - Cynthia Osborne, Ros Dobbin and Jean Bailey (pictured left with Margaret Sentamu).

The evening was introduced by Barabara Taylor, Provincial President (right). She said, "While the Mothers' Unions of the former three dioceses have held events to which they invited the other two, this is the first jointly run gathering, so it feels like a very special occasion."

Margaret Sentamu talked about women as agents for change, making reference to her own upbringing in Uganda, her work with many international charities and the work of the Mothers' Union itself.

She said, "In the developing world 82% of men are actively employed in the labour market as opposed to only 27% of women. When the economy shrinks it's the girls who are pulled out of education, often ending up in exploitative jobs or being sexually trafficked. But investing in girls makes for smart economics. When you educate a girl, because of their tendency to share information, you education a whole family and often a whole community. Women really are key agents for change."

She referred to the many influential women in history such as Indira Gandhi, Rosa Parkes, Margaret Thatcher and Aung San Suu Kyi. She said, "There are also many unsung female heroes. And, while the equality battle has not been won, there is a silent revolution going on in India, South America and and Africa, where women are transforming their situations through collectives."

She praised the Mothers' Union for the way it shows God's love in action. "God's love compells you to set up such things as holiday schemes, social policy campaigns promoting stable family life and prayer vigils at the UN - where your presence is crucial, because you're the voice of the voiceless".

The new triennium of the Mothers' Union (with newly elected members) will begin in January 2016 when the president elect, Jean Thurman, will take up her role as the new president.

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