>Commemoration: Mary Sumner

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Tuesday August 9, 2022 All Day
Annually on August 9

Mary Sumner,

Founder of the Mothers’ Union

and Renewer of Society,

d. 1921

The Prayer of Mary Sumner, founder of Mothers’ Union

All this day, O Lord,

let me touch as many lives as possible for thee;

and every life I touch,

do thou by thy spirit quicken,

whether through the word I speak,

the prayer I breathe,

or the life I live.


"Mary Sumner was the founder of the Mothers' Union, a worldwide Anglican women's organisation.... In 1876, when her eldest daughter Margaret gave birth, she was reminded how difficult she had found the burden of motherhood. Inspired, Sumner publicized a meeting of mothers in the parish to offer mutual support. Her plan was quite radical in its day as it involved calling women of all social classes to support one another and to see motherhood as a profession as important as those of men, if not more so. The first meeting was held in Old Alresford Rectory, but Sumner was so overcome by nervousness that her husband had to speak for her and invite the women to return next week. At that second meeting she had gathered enough courage to lead her own meeting.


"The nascent Mothers' Union was limited to Sumner's parish. However, in 1885, she was part of the audience in the Portsmouth Church Congress, some 20 miles from her home. The first Bishop of Newcastle, Ernest Wilberforce, had been asked to address the women churchgoers. He felt that he had very little to say to women and invited Sumner to speak in his stead. Although nervous once again, she gave a passionate address about national morality and the importance of women's vocation as mothers to change the nation for the better. A number of the women present went back to their parishes to found mothers' meetings on Sumner's pattern. The Bishop of Winchester, Edward Browne, made the Mothers' Union a diocesan organisation.


"The Mothers' Union concept spread rapidly to the dioceses of Ely, Exeter, Hereford, Lichfield and Newcastle and then throughout the United Kingdom. By 1892, 60,000 members lived in 28 dioceses, and by the turn of the century, the Mothers' Union had grown to 169,000 members. Annual general meetings began in 1893, and the Mothers' Union Central Council was formed three years later. Sumner was unanimously elected president, a post she held into her nineties. In 1897, during her Diamond Jubilee, Queen Victoria became patron of the Mothers' Union, giving it an unprecedented stamp of approval. The Mothers' Union set up branches throughout the British Empire, beginning in New Zealand, then Canada and India. Sumner lived to lead the Mothers' Union to act in rebuilding the heart of Britain after the First World War and saw the first Mothers' Union Conference of Overseas Workers in 1920." [1]


The Mothers’ Union Prayer

Loving Lord,

We thank you for your love so freely given to us all.

We pray for families around the world.

Bless the work of the Mothers’ Union as we seek to share your love through the encouragement, strengthening and support of marriage and family life.

Empowered by your Spirit, may we be united in prayer and worship, and in love and service reach out as your hands across the world.

In Jesus’ name.



[1] Mary Sumner. (2019, August 09). Retrieved July 30, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Sumner


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