'Between the Mother of the Church and our present work for the unity of the Church there is a close and important link. Mary was included in the history of salvation and of the Church's mission from the very beginning Accordingly, we who form today's generation of disciples of Christ all wish to unite ourselves with her in a special way.
'Pope John Paul II, in a letter to our Society.
Established in 1967
The Society was founded when, in 1967, a group of friends of several Christian traditions, recognising the need, met to discuss ways of ensuring that this vital element in religious experience should be given an adequate place in current dialogue. Among these friends Martin Gillett, a Roman Catholic layman, thereupon dedicated the remaining years of his life to promoting an ecumenical understanding of Marys place in the life of the Church. The Society quickly prospered. It has attracted membership and support from Church leaders, scholars and pastors, lay theologians, and Christian people from all walks of life.
WORSHIP & PRAYER
With regard to prayer, the Society has its own Ecumenical Office of Mary the Mother of Jesus, with material drawn from many Christian traditions and countries. It is used at meetings of the Society and in members personal devotions, as well as being a source-book for wider ecumenical gatherings. Every member is given a copy of this Office.
Locally, pilgrimages may be made to Marian shrines. Some members have formed small prayer groups; branches have occasional quiet days or devotional meetings, and our larger conferences always include ecumenical worship, having careful regard to the practice of different traditions.
The Society was founded in Britain, but there are now members in many countries throughout the world. There are formal branches in the UK, Dublin, Rome, and a Chapter in North America; there are also informal groups where smaller numbers get together. Contact between members and branches is maintained by means of our Newsletter, Facebook and the website.
Fellowship is an integral part of the Society's life, whether it is just a cup of tea and a chat after a prayer group, a drink after a branch meeting, or time together at day conferences or residential International Congresses, where many new friendships are made with members from different countries and traditions;
MEMBERSHIP & SUPPORT
From the beginning it was agreed that membership of the Society should be open to all who would be willing to give it support, and that all Christian traditions should be accorded equal respect.
The Society is governed by an elected Council, which includes, besides representatives of Branches, well-known theologians and ecumenists of various Christian traditions, who advise on the Society's structure and future programmes: The Society is entirely self-supporting and has to pay its way: there is a small annual subscription, which entitles members to receive notices of meetings and to receive publications as they appear. Each year there is an Annual General Meeting, at which all paid-up members are entitled to vote.