You are here

Necklace on open Bible

The Lasting Legacy of Mary Sumner

The lasting legacy of Mary Sumner: Inspiring people to believe a better society is possible

06 Aug 2020


The legacy of Mary Sumner is a profound one. Her story is a tale of inspiration and courage. One only has to look at the timeline of her life to see the remarkable impact that her actions had on the world. She lived at a time when society did not place a high value on the role of women. This did not deter her from her mission though. She continuously sought to support and empower others through selfless actions, embodying Christian teachings.


This drive brought about change, and the events that her actions set in motion have led to improvements in living conditions and quality of life for many thousands of people around the world. Although she lived most of her life over a hundred years ago, her words and deeds continue to motivate women and men to lead fulfilling lives to do this day.


Mary Sumner's vision

Mary Sumner herself had a vision of a fellowship of women supporting each other and strengthening their communities. This community emphasis can be seen in full form today as members tackle some of the most challenging issues that they and their neighbours face.


Witness the response to the recent global pandemic where Mothers' Union members expressed compassion and demonstrated they care deeply about their communities. They offered emotional and prayerful support in the most difficult of situations, as well as answering the practical call to craft PPE and face coverings for front line workers.


The extent of members’ selfless endeavours should come as no surprise to those already familiar with the life of Mary Sumner. One of her most enduring phrases has to be ‘set a good example in word and deed’. Members of the movement today follow her example in the way she went about her life. They draw strength from the knowledge that Mary Sumner pushed herself to inspire others. They become more resolved when they pray her personal prayer, knowing that she would stop at nothing if her heart had something to say.


Mary Sumner's teachings

More than personal strength, Mary Sumner’s life teaches us all the value of believing that a better society is possible, and that we should work actively to bring it about. Notably, she always held the cause of improving societal conditions uppermost in her mind. This is evident in that she began a movement that continues to improve the lives of its members and others to this day. This is done through community problem solving and channelling God’s love into effective deeds.


In modern times, with so much chaos and hardship in the news and on our timelines, it is more important than ever to recognize the achievements of Mary Sumner. As she believed a more just, more equal society was possible, so to must we take to our core, that however difficult our troubles seem, there is always a way forward.


A final thought

We must trust in God’s plan and believe that the efforts of improving the livelihoods of those around us makes a difference to the bigger picture. This is what makes life worthwhile - serving God, and serving our community. As a powerful example of advocacy in the name of the Lord, Mary Sumner’s life shows us that we can each make a difference.



(This article is based on contributions from members. Thanks to all who sent in their thoughts on how Mary Sumner inspires them.)



Cover photo by Anuja Mary Tilj on Unsplash