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.