THE first time that she was approached by members of the Mothers’ Union, as a newly-wed, Sheran Harper decided that she would “just go to one meeting, to humour them, and then escape”.
Thirty-one years later, far from escaping, she has been elected as the organisation’s first Worldwide President from outside the British Isles.
“It’s really a dream come true, and with it I carry all the love and support of members around the world,” she said on Tuesday.
Born in the United Kingdom, Mrs Harper grew up in Guyana, where she studied at the University of the West Indies School of Physical Therapy. She undertook her clinical practice at Guy’s Hospital, in London, and then worked with the Ministry of Health in Guyana, where she opened and managed new physiotherapy departments in hospitals throughout the country, and lectured on the rehabilitation therapists programme.
She stopped working in this area 17 years ago to focus on serving the Mothers’ Union, rising to become President of the diocese of Guyana, and then of the West Indies Province, before becoming a worldwide trustee.
Until recently, she was the Worldwide Parenting Trainer, and rolled out Mothers’ Union parenting programmes in 23 countries.
This week, she described how, after she had paid employment to bring up her children, the Mothers’ Union enabled her “gifts and talents from God” to be discovered and nurtured. “My dream is that the Mothers’ Union will stand out as a dynamic Christian movement with a purpose-driven membership across all cultures, and inspire transformation at the heart of every community.
“I pray that our voice, as Mothers’ Union members, will be heard as we make social policies a priority on every agenda in the Anglican Communion and the wider community. I dream of a time when there will be a shift against harmful cultural and societal norms, so that families are enabled to nurture their dreams and aspirations.”
She will take up her new position as leader of the 142-year-old movement’s four million members in 84 countries, in January.
Also elected were 11 trustees — five from the provinces within Britain and Ireland — and six from outside. They include a man for the first time: Paul Hindle.