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If your branch has come to the stage where it is difficult for it to remain open there are some options open to you.
Firstly you should discuss this with some of the following people during face to face meetings – the people in bold must be consulted and records of the meetings kept.
1. Your Deanery Leader (if you have one)
2. The Vice President who looks after your area (who needs to be given time to discuss this with the Trustees and who will also tell the Diocesan Office)
3. The Diocesan President or Chaplain (if appropriate)
4. Your Clergy
5. ALL your Members – either as a group or individually
It is very important that you let your members know what their options are for continuing their active membership of the Society:
1. The branch can continue to work without a Leader – a Committee of members who share out the work can be very effective. However, you do need to have a designated person to act as Treasurer, although sometimes your PCC Treasurer might be able to do this for you (after discussion with the rest of the PCC and Clergy).
2. If you are all too frail to carry on attending meetings, then you can become PRAYING FELLOWSHIP MEMBERS (formerly IMPC). These members are cared for by Praying Fellowship Correspondent who writes to them and keeps them in touch with what Mothers Union is doing. There is more about this form of membership in the Members Guide. It might be that this form of membership would only suit some people, so you would need to be sensitive about approaching members to transfer to this type of membership.
3. You could all transfer to become DIOCESAN MEMBERS. This means that you do not have to run a branch but can continue the fellowship that you currently enjoy and maybe meet for Bible Study, reflections, social events to discuss Social Policy Issues or for a working party (eg to knit fiddle muffs or baby clothes). You do not need to have any officers, but can run on an ad hoc basis. Even if you don’t wish to continue to meet as a FELLOWSHIP GROUP, then you can remain as individual members continuing to support the work of Mothers’ Union through prayer and donations (of both money and items that we donate/make for those we support). There is a separate document about Fellowship Groups which should be read in conjunction with this so that you can make an informed decision about how you proceed.
4. You could all join with a nearby branch.
Our Constitution recommends that you allow at least six months for talking with people and discussing all the various options before you make the final decision to close down. It does need to be a decision come to by ALL of your members. If you would like someone to come and talk to you about the various options, then do ask. We also have leaflets that explain what membership is all about which might help you to recruit more people to join you!
If you do close your branch, then you need to transfer all the funds remaining in your branch account to the Diocesan Mothers’ Union. You may not give this to any other charity or to your church, or even use it to have a party! You will need to complete a financial form (please ask for one) and do make sure that you tell our Diocesan Office what you have done.
It is always sad when a branch closes, but many branches that have closed have found it useful to mark the end with a service in church to celebrate all that the branch has achieved over the years. There is useful material in the Blue book ‘United in Prayer and Worship’ or you could speak with the Diocesan Chaplain or Unit Coordinator for Faith & Policy who will help you compile a suitable service. Invite members from nearby branches, your Vice President and Diocesan President.
Many of you have said there is great difficulty in attracting younger people into MU membership.
Here are a few ideas to grow membership across the age-groups.
1. A good display in your church – refreshed a few times a year, using table and backboard if possible. Have Perspex holders for MU leaflets and invite people to take one (link to order form for leaflets available through the Diocese). Include a clear message of MU aims and details of who to contact to become a member. Topics over the year might be:
- Wave of Prayer
- Make a Mothers’ Day
- AFIA holidays
- 16 days of Activism
- Diocesan projects
- Baptism / Marriage support
2. Admit members within a main church service.
3. Present a written report for the APCM, with an MU rep to stand up and say – “this is how we make a difference at home and abroad – join us because we need to sustain this energy. Prayers and financial support are just as valuable as meeting attendance”.
4. Involve the whole church and community when raising funds for Diocesan, national and global projects. For example hold cake stall after the Sunday service. For a sponsorship event, have sponsor forms available in the churches. Advertise events in village and parish magazines.
5. Arrange a couple of evening meetings during the year (or a Saturday / Sunday afternoon) with subjects that will attract a wider range of people. Such as a Parenting Taster evening (ask for help from the Diocese); enriching marriage; MU work overseas. Find catchy titles and involve people with experience and knowledge.
6. Identify someone who has a particular skill MU member or not, for example, card making. Run a workshop and make Easter cards to send to people on your parish prayer list. Be sure to have an insert: “Made on behalf of the *** branch of The Mothers’ Union”.
7. Get involved with Mother & Toddler groups in the community as well as Pram Service or similar church events for pre-schoolers and parents. Have copies of Families First to distribute and other MU literature available.
Mothers’ Union likes to celebrate significant Wedding Anniversaries.
If a special Anniversary is coming up, then please can you get in touch with the office 2 months in advance with the following details:
- The name of the couple
- Their Address
- The date of the wedding
Cards will be sent for the following Anniversaries
- Ruby (40 years)
- Golden (50 Years)
- Emerald (55 years)
- Diamond (60 Years)
- Blue Sapphire (65 years)
- Platinum (70 years)
And every year after that
Arrangements will be made for the both the Diocesan President and World Wide President to send cards.
Cards from the same people will be sent to members celebrating significant birthdays namely:
90th; 95th; 100th and every year after that.
Once the new MSH website is in place, this should happen automatically, but branch leaders should check their members’ details on the database to ensure that the birthdate has been entered correctly!
Quiz about worldwide membership (2 ways)
Find all the countries on a map of the world where we have Mothers’ Union.
Identify all the countries where we have Mothers’ Union – and then place them on a map
Read the Newspapers
Take along several newspapers (it can be helpful if they were all printed on the same day but it is not essential) – and share out among those present. If you have time, you could ask everyone to bring one along to make life easy for yourself.
Ask members to look for one or more of the following:
- Articles relevant to Mothers’ Union Aims and objectives
- Social Policy Issues
- Articles about Families
- Some Good news stories
Share what you’ve found – and why each person found the article interesting. Sometimes people choose the same story – look how they are reported differently in each newspaper.
Bible verses about items that can be sold
Ask each member to bring a saleable item mentioned in the Bible, with the appropriate reference.
In turn, members show the item they have brought and read the Bible passage. Larger branches might need to divide into smaller groups to do this.
Sell all the items brought for a Mothers’ Union fund.
There are variations on this theme – you don’t need to bring along the item (a camel in your meeting place might be a bit problematical) – a picture might be more appropriate – and you don’t have to sell the items (although if you do manage to sell a camel we’d love to hear from you!).
16 Days of Activism against Gender based violence
Provide a globe, either a 2D image – this could as large as you like, and could be handmade or a picture – or a blow up globe, and some post it notes.
Either: Write prayers on the post it notes for your link dioceses and stick them on the globe – for all they are doing to counter gender based violence, and for those in their communities who may have experienced or be experiencing gender-based violence.
Or: Do the same for the work of Mothers’ Union worldwide more generally in their advocacy on this issue and their work with survivors.
You could also have a discussion about how you can raise awareness of this issue in your locality and what you can do to support survivors.
Finding things in common
Let people get into pairs or threes. Ask them to find two or more things that they all have in common – maybe a birthday, your bra size, your middle name – it is not as easy as you think (but do not accept church or Mothers’ Union – too simple!). Try not to put good friends together!
See how many correct answers each person (or group) knows from this quiz
Put people into groups of two or three and ask them to write a prayer about different aspects of the churches year, or different needs of the world. You could produce a long list of starting points dependent upon the time you have available. Share – and then send them to our webmaster!
Share favourite Bible verses or hymns
This does need a little preparation: Ask people to bring along their favourite Bible verse or hymn and tell the others why they have chosen it.
What you don’t know about me…
Give everyone a slip of paper as they arrive and ask them to write a statement about themselves that they don’t think others will know, but that they are happy to share. This could be an interest or pastime, something they are good at, something they have done in the past, an unusual experience, etc. What is written on the slip should not be shared or discussed.
When everyone has given in their slip, write all the statements on a sheet of flip chart paper as a numbered list, making sure there are no clues to the originators identity.
Make sure everyone has a pen and paper, then ask them to note down the person they think wrote the statement. (You might want to take the opportunity for everyone to say their name, rather than assume that everyone knows each other!)
Go through the list on the flip chart asking people to ‘own’ their statement. Do allow some time for people to explain or expand on what they have written, if appropriate
What do other members appreciate about you?
(from Cleeve & Claverham branch, Bath & Wells)
Each person writes their name at the bottom of a sheet of paper. They then pass it to the next person, who looks at the name at the bottom and writes something positive about that person: a quality, something about that person they admire, a gift or talent. As in a game of Consequences, they then fold over the top of the paper, so that what they have written is hidden from the next person, but the person’s name is still visible at the bottom of the sheet That person then writes what they admire/appreciate.
When everyone has written on the sheet, it is then given to the person whose name appears at the bottom.