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History of the Indoor Members Prayer Circle
Background and History of the Indoor Members Prayer Circle
The Indoor Members’ Prayer Circle was started in 1921 by Mrs. Edith Lucy Mosse, originally for any member who, for any reason, was prevented from taking part in the activities of their local branch but wanted to support and pray for the leaders and the work of the organisation. Originally it was known as the Invalid Members’ Prayer Circle and Edith was its first Central Correspondent.
The Circle grew out of Edith’s own experiences and needs. Edith was born in 1870 and when she was 9, the family moved to Heage in Derbyshire where her father became curate to the vicar, the Rev. Henry Mosse. Her mother taught Edith and her sister, Annie privately at home until she was 14 when they were both sent to boarding school in Birmingham. Her father later became vicar of Heath in Devon and it was there, when she was 21, that she married the Rev. William Mosse, the son of the vicar of Heage and they moved to their first parish in Redditch, Worcestershire. Two years later they moved to The Lickey in Birmingham diocese where for over 20 years, Edith was kept busy looking after their 5 children and supporting her husband in his large country parish.
In 1914 the family moved to Moseley, a suburb of Birmingham but before long, Edith suffered a severe nervous breakdown and developed abdominal ulcers. The discovery that she had a weak heart ruled out any possibility of surgery so, from being a very active person, Edith became more of an invalid, eventually being confined to a wheelchair. A few years later she and her husband suffered what Edith described as their ‘great sorrow’ when Mary, their 23year old daughter died and another daughter, Kathleen was diagnosed with a mental illness. Her husband’s health was also deteriorating and his increasing deafness made communication difficult and led to problems with his work.
The outlook was bleak but it was at this time in her life that Edith really became aware of the importance of prayer. Whenever possible, William would take Edith to visit a neighbour who was crippled with arthritis and they prayed together and received Communion together. Edith realised that as she prayed for others, it helped her with her own suffering and this gave her great comfort.
Finding Power in Prayer
She then put together a scheme which she submitted to MU Head Office suggesting that this idea of praying together might prove worthwhile and in 1918 an experimental group was set up in Birmingham diocese under the title ‘Prisoners of God’. From then on, it spread to other dioceses and in 1921 it was officially incorporated in the MU as the Invalid Members’ Prayer Circle.
William Mosse retired in 1927 and the family moved to Mitcham in Surrey where the first IMPC Conference was held the following year. BY then there were over 1,000 members in 41 dioceses, including ours. Edith continued to suffer personal sadness: her husband died in 1929 and another daughter and a grandson died in 1940 but she continued to write to IMPC members until her death in 1943.
Progress through the Years
By the 1960’s there was a growing dislike of the word ‘Invalid’ in the title. As medical treatment had improved fewer people were confined to bed but there were still many who were housebound, so in 1971 the title was changed to the Indoor Members’ Prayer Circle. Its purpose was ‘ to comfort the members and enable them to comfort others and also to pray for the work of the Mothers’ Union and to support its leaders’.
In 1991 prayer leaflets were issued three times a year for IMPC members. These were in bold print and set out topics for prayers each week and were greatly appreciated by the members. The Central President (later the Worldwide President) also sent a Christmas letter to every IMPC member. The Prayer leaflets became very popular, not only with IMPC members but also the ordinary members so in 2009 it became Families Worldwide and included not only daily prayers and thoughts but also profiles of the provinces worldwide. This publication was welcomed by ordinary members but unfortunately so many IMPC members are unable to read it because of the small, feint type.
Mothers' Union Worldwide Trustee Jenny Barton produces monthly reflections for IMPC members, whilst the WWP writes Christmas and Easter letters to them. Ideas for better serving indoor members are currently being worked upon by the team at Mary Sumner House.
If you are part of Mothers' Union, please remember to visit your IMPC members and give them your prayer requests and I am sure they would be only too happy to include them in their daily prayers.
Words by Sheila Allton
Southwell & Nottingham Diocese
The Indoor Members’ Prayer.
Loving Heavenly Father, Lord of the world, you know the secret thoughts of every heart and hear the prayers of all. You have chosen us to work for you and be as one in prayer. Guide us in our prayerful task and strengthen us to do your will. Uphold us in our weakness and our doubt that those for whom we intercede may truly come to know your healing peace and love. We ask in Jesus’ name, your only Son, our Lord. Amen.