Recent News
16 Days of Activism Vigil


The plight of abuse against women at home and around the world was highlighted at a Vigil hosted by Connor Mothers’ Union in Belfast City Hall on Monday, November 26.

The Vigil and Reception, attended by Deputy Lieutenant of Belfast, Mrs Michele Marken, was organised to raise the profile of the Mothers’ Union’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign.

The guest speaker was Jacqui Armstrong, All Ireland Faith and Policy Co-ordinator. Other high profile attendees included Phyllis Grothier, All-Ireland Mothers’ Union President; the Archdeacon of Belfast, the Ven George Davison; and Heather Flanigan of the Christian Police Association.

Representatives of branches across Connor Diocese were among the 75 guests.
The international 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign takes place each year from November 25 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) until December 10 (International Human Rights Day).

Throughout the campaign, Mothers’ Union joins many others globally in calling for an end to gender-based violence in all forms and in all societies.

On Monday evening, following refreshments, guests were welcomed by Valerie Ashe, outgoing President of Connor Mother’ Union, who played a short video about the work of Mothers’ Union.
All-Ireland President Phyllis Grothier highlighted the importance of the 16 Days of Activism. “This campaign is at the core of what Mothers’ Union is all about as we reach out to families who don’t enjoy all that should be in a family relationship,” she said. “We seek to stand with people who are in trouble and let them know that we care, to let them know that there is another life out there.”

In her address, Jacqui Armstrong said that when she began working on this campaign in 2014, she had no idea of the extent of gender-based violence, particularly against women.

“Gender-based violence is a new term and means violence against women and men, but our 16 Days campaign focuses on women due to the disproportionate number of women affected,” Jacqui said.
One in three or one on four women will be affected, and the statistics are the same in every continent, she said. In Northern Ireland five people a year are killed by their partner, and the victims are predominantly women.

The campaign aims to explore the root causes of gender-based violence, to highlight the issue of abuse and to seek to end it.

During the 16 days, Mothers’ Union members will be lighting candles, tweeting daily, writing to politicians and undertaking other activities to highlight the issue, Jacqui said.

She spoke about how the Mother’s Union was also tackling gender-based violence overseas, using as an example the Democratic Republic of Congo where, thanks to intervention by the Mothers’ Union Prison Programme, prison authorities had agreed to house women and children in separate sections of a prison to men.

Jacqui concluded quoting the words: “Let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth.”

As the Vigil ended Connor MU Social Policy Contact, Cathy Doig, lit a candle, and following a pause for reflection, the prayers were read by Mothers’ Union members Jean, Evelyn, Cathy and Joyce.

Before leaving, guests were invited to view the exhibition ‘Souls of our Shoes,’ which uses footwear to tell stories of survivors of gender-based violence.






Diocesan Quiet Evening 2018


A beautiful Summer evening in June saw members from all over Connor Diocese gather in St Patrick’s Church Hall, Broughshane for a “Quiet Evening” which was facilitated by Louise Bowes, a Diocesan Reader and the Northern Representative on the World Day of Prayer National Committee.

The aim of the evening was to have a quiet time, some down-time and some God-time. It was based on the MULOA process, giving those present the chance to think about Listening to God, Observing the Moment and Acting out God’s will.

Louise reminded us that in the midst of our busy lives, we often fail to take time to rest our bodies and our minds and through Readings, Prayer, Music and Meditation, we were inspired, rejuvenated and calmed in equal measure.

We were reminded of how prayer is an important part of our Mothers’ Union membership and that our action and outreach is based on Biblical principles and encouraged to think about how and when we pray and to be aware of Gods’ response to our prayers.

Of course, no gathering of Mothers’ Union members would be complete without a cup of tea and chat and this was kindly provided for us by the members of St Patrick’s, Broughshane Branch.






Presentation of PS4


Presentation of PS4 to Central Belfast Contact Centre, which was purchased using the proceeds of East Connor Mothers' Union Prayer Breakfast. Well done ladies and we are sure the children have lots of fun using it.





Baby Basics Visit 2018


Emma and I recently visited the local headquarters of Baby Basics (Church Army, Tennent street Shankill Road) to hand over East Connor’s Baby Basics basket. We received a very warm welcome from Sister Karen, who showed us around their very well organised operation. The photo above shows Sister Karen and me with our basket next to a beautiful filled one ready for a young mother and baby.

Many branches have shown interest in filling baskets making a contribution to what is a very much needed resource. Ladies give it a go!

Lynne x






Craigs, Dunaghy & Killagan Hospital Gifts 2018


The Craigs, Dunaghy and Killagan Mothers' Union Branch held a very successful projects night in October and the fruits of their labours were presented to various wards in Antrim Area Hospital the following week. In total, the ladies produced 56 colouring packs, 34 baby cardigans, 28 baby blankets, 56 toilet bags, 33 baby hats and 7 angel baby items. The photo above shows branch members Alice Logan, Betty Johnston, Wendy Halligan and Christine McFall handing over some of the colouring packs to staff in A2 Children's Ward in Antrim Area Hospital. Congratulations on all your hard work ladies!





Worldwide Evening 2018


Connor Diocese Mothers Union members enjoyed a Worldwide Evening, held in St Patrick's Ballymena on Tuesday 11th September, to Celebrate the work of Mothers Union members around the world. 80 plus members attended the event, raising £385 for WW.

The evening began with an Icebreaker game, followed by a short presentation and videos of MU work abroad.

The ladies had the opportunity to walk about viewing Display Boards about Connor Link Dioceses in Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Nigeria and South Korea and the Mothers Union Programmes at home and abroad.

The ladies enjoyed mingling & chatting & catching up with members from different MU branches while they viewed the many table displays such as Food from around the world, as well as talking to Verah from Kenya about her costume, lifestyle, childhood, culture, tasting Kenyan food, etc. A fun quiz proved popular and of course Tea and Cake was enjoyed by all.

Noreen x






Curry in a Hurry 2018


Connor Diocese presenting Curry in a Hurry cookbooks for the students in the University of Ulster.
L-r. Valerie Ash, Diocesan President, Glenda Campbell, Accommodation Officer UU, Kathleen Lunn, Diocesan Project rep.






All Saints' MU Branch go to Specsavers


All Saints’ Parish Church, Antrim, Mothers’ Union has recently turned its focus to glasses, collecting over 100 pairs to donate to Vision Aid Overseas through Specsavers.

A word from the store director: Davin Quinn, Antrim store director, explains: ‘Specsavers has worked with Vision Aid Overseas for many years to increase eye care services across Zambia. The second-hand glasses which are donated are recycled by the charity and the income generated goes directly to establishing vision centres and training local eye care workers. 'We are very grateful to the ladies from All Saints’ Mothers’ Union who have made a fantastic effort in collecting so many frames for the cause.’






Mum's in May Event - Mad Hatters Tea Party


All Saints' Parish Church, Antrim, Mothers' Union held a Mad Hatters Tea Party for their Mums in May project. This turned out to be a lovely fun evening for all the family.

The hall was very tastefully decorated by Noreen Hurst with the help of her husband William and The Rev Aaron and Melanie McAlister, the tables were also set to fit the Occasion. Mother's Union members prepared a delicious supper which was enjoyed by everyone.

The Children enjoyed the film "Cat in Hat", while the adults enjoyed some entertainment with Dr Brian Ford, which included a sketch entitled Poor Willie John, a game of Mr and Mrs with Lara Burton Ford. The evening finished with a sing along with Archdeacon Stephen McBride. A great evening was had by all!

More photographs are available in our Events & Gallery section.






Holy Knitters!


All Saints' Parish Church, Antrim Mothers' Union Branch started a Holey Knitters Club on Monday evenings and after 6 weeks hard work these are some of the items ready for delivery to the Neonatal Unit and Children's Ward at Antrim Area Hospital. They have also been working on Fiddle Blankets for Dementia Patients for one of their local nursing homes.

Why not visit our Gallery in the Events & Gallery section for more photos!






Mary Sumner Day Celebration


Mary Sumner’s Day in Craig's Parish Church, Thursday 9th August Emma and l set off to find Craig’s church. It was a lovely summer evening, we arrived in good time to find a beautiful church in an equally beautiful setting. The service was to celebrate Mary Sumner Day, the Faith & Policy Unit pulled the whole thing together. It was a lovely service. Rev’d Adrian Halligan, the Curate in Charge, gave us a very thought-provoking sermon about Mary and all her work, which was not without many struggles. He finished by introducing MULOA principals (listening, observing, acting).

As the collection was taken up some of our ladies brought up a trauma teddy, a MULOA booklet, a ribbon for 16 days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, a Mary Sumner booklet (that was really touching). We finished with Holy Communion.
The large crowd then retired to the church hall to be served a lovely supper; worries were soon forgotten as to would we have enough!

Thanks to Joyce, Cathy, the lovely tea ladies and of course Rev’d Adrian and Wendy Halligan.

God Bless,
Lynne Coleman






New Connor Diocesan President Announced


Huge congratulations to Sally Cotter who has been appointed Connor Mothers' Union Diocesan President effective 1 January 2019. We wish Sally God's richest blessing as she prepares for this very important role and assure her of our prayerful and practical support.





MIM 2018 - Molly Craig's 95th Birthday


Molly Craig, Rosalind Bloomfield's Mum recently celebrated her 95th birthday and to mark the occasion they held a party to which between 60 -70 people were invited to Rosalind's house. The weather was glorious and not only did they celebrate Molly's special birthday but they also raised money for the All Ireland Mums in May triennial fundraising event the money was in lieu of presents. The party raised £675 which has been split between MIM (£500) and a Donkey Sanctuary (£175). Molly really enjoyed her day and along with her daughter and a couple of friends will go to visit the Donkeys in a few weeks.





Mid Connor - MULOA Conversation


The first of the MULOA conversations. Participants were Joyce Bond, Jean Kennedy, Valerie Ash DP, Irene Paget, Cathy Doig, Lyn Cassidy, Patricia McWhirter, Isabel Rodgers, Sally Cotter DP-Elect, Sylvia Beacom.





Belfast Marathon 2018


Mums in May is the All-Ireland Mothers’ Union triennial fundraising event which enables us to reach out to our communities both locally and globally. The Worldwide Project supported by Mums in May this year is a programme in DR Congo which is tackling gender-based violence while each diocese in Ireland will identify local projects to be supported by the fund. This year we have been challenged to take part in sponsored walks, tea parties, a fireside quiz, a novelty tea cosy competition, and write a story about a tea cosy, real or imaginary!

So, on Monday 7 May in glorious sunshine, 5 members of the Mothers’ Union in mid and north Connor undertook an 8-mile walk, while 2 teams from north Connor consisting of not just Mothers’ Union members but also their friends and family, 3 of which were men participated in the team relay walk. Each one was walking “In Mary Sumner’s footsteps”, our 2018 theme and raising money for Mums in May.

The members who completed the 8-mile walk were Caroline Glover, Roslyn Graham, Wendy Halligan, Yvonne Little and Geraldine Ramsey. The relay teams consisted of Kim, Derek, Mark, Karen, Elizabeth, Andi, Derek, Judith and her daughters Hannah and Cerys.

Congratulations to everyone who took part in the Belfast Marathon 8-mile walk and the team relay walk, you did the Mothers’ Union proud!






Women's Health & Wellbeing Morning


On a sunny Saturday morning, almost 60 women came together in the Dunsilly Hotel, Antrim, to take time out for themselves and hear from four speakers, three of whom covered mental, physical and spiritual health and the other spoke about Mothers’ Union itself.

The women were drawn from parishes all over Connor Diocese and were a mix of Mothers’ Union members and non-members. Our Diocesan President, Valerie Ash, opened the morning with a Bible reading, prayers and a brief introduction to her role in Mothers’ Union. Alison Skillen, Vice President of Action and Outreach, introduced each of our speakers.

First on the programme was Lynda Bryans, the former radio and television journalist, who spoke about her own mental health journey and how she had found great support not only from her family and friends but also from her faith. She challenged us to ask ourselves: “What do you do on a regular basis to look after your mental health?”

Dr Laura Bunting, a General Practitioner in Broughshane Medical Practice, spoke about the importance of physical health and gave us advice regarding screening, diet and exercise. Despite the seriousness of the topic, Laura brought her own unique humour to the talk, whilst still getting her message across.

Our spiritual health speaker was the Revd Elizabeth Hanna, rector of St Nicholas’ parish in Belfast. Elizabeth spoke about the importance of prayer, reading and service for our spiritual health and also of us looking at “which step have we reached today?” The eight steps ranged from “I won’t do it” to “Yes, I did it!”

The last speaker was Wendy Halligan, Mothers’ Union Young Members’ Representative for Connor Diocese, who spoke about the work of Mothers’ Union and her journey from being a “Reluctant M.U.M.” (Mothers’ Union Member) to the enthusiastic member she is today.

At the end of the morning, each person was given a ‘goodie bag’ containing literature on Mothers’ Union, health screening and some treats. A special thank you to Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council for contributing packets of seeds and literature in connection with their Bee-licious campaign (further details can be found here http://www.antrimandnewtownabbey.gov.uk/Residents/Community-Wellbeing/Biodiversity/Bee-Licious).

Feedback about the morning has been very favourable and Mothers’ Union in Connor has possibly gained a few new members. The event was organised by the Connor Diocesan Young Members’ Committee and was funded by a ‘Mums in May’ grant.






Mid Connor Area Coffee Morning


The Mothers Union members held a coffee morning on Saturday 21st April 2018 in St Patrick’s Church Ballymena. Great fellowship was had by all present on such a lovely spring day. A superb amount of £550.00 was raised that will go toward those requiring financial support from the Mothers Union Relief Fund.

Grateful thanks go to all the branches and the members for all the support given. Especially the members of St Patrick’s Ballymena who hosted
the event.
Irene Paget
Area Chairperson