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Q&A with Diocesan Mothers Union President, grandmother, St Margaret’s old girl and clergy spouse, Bev Perry

Spotlight Q&A

Meet Bev Perry and find out about her advocacy in the gender-based violence space, what person of faith inspires her the most, what she would write on a billboard, about her favourite childhood memory and what she does in her free time

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Bev Perry is the dedicated and inspiring Diocesan President of Anglican Mothers Union Australia. She is a cradle Anglican, the wife of a retired clergyperson, a loving grandmother and a St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School old girl.

Where do you currently live and where do you worship?

Since my husband Robert retired from full-time ministry in 2011, we have lived in Bundaberg and worship at Christ Church, Bundaberg.

How long have you been involved in the Anglican Church and in what roles?

I grew up in a farming community in the Monto district with my family attending the Anglican church in the small community of Abercorn, and from this background I caught a simple faith and a desire to go to church.

As the wife of a clergyperson, I have exercised many roles as we moved from parish to parish, but the children’s ministry was one I exercised in every parish. I enjoyed teaching and coordinating Sunday School and Religious Education in schools for over 40 years.

Bev and Robert Perry in 2014

What is your current role, and what does your role involve to serve our Diocese?

I am the Diocesan President of Anglican Mothers Union Australia (AMUA) and my husband Robert is the Diocesan Secretary. I am also the Branch President of Bundaberg AMUA and Robert is the Secretary.

My role is one of leadership, providing guidance, spiritual leadership and encouragement to members to live out the Aim, Purpose and Mission of AMUA. It is an organising role which arranges and chairs Diocesan meetings and events. It also involves much communicating with members regarding the practical details of running the organisation, visiting branches to present long service awards, and a speaking role to inform branches on the work of AMUA. As Diocesan President, I am a member of the Australian Council of AMUA.

Bev Perry presenting Gail Bauer with her 50-year badge and scroll in 2020

Can you tell us a little about Mothers Union?

Mothers Union is a worldwide Christian organisation that has been supporting families for 145 years and has grown to over four million members in 84 countries.

Prayer and worship are at the heart of all that Mothers Union does. Mothers Union is open to all who believe in the importance of family life in its many forms, including women, men, married and unmarried people, and parents or not. For those who desire full membership, it is necessary to be baptised in the Name of the Holy Trinity and declare their support for the Aim and Objectives of Mothers Union.

What activities have you been involved in during 2021 so far?

AMUA always organises a retiring collection in their Parishes on Mothering Sunday (or Mother’s Day) for an overseas project, with this year’s project being ‘Parenting Program for Papua New Guinea’.

Members are passionate about issues of social justice, communicating with governments, and collaborating with other charities and organisations to be informed and to bring a united voice for change. Mothers Union worldwide supports the ‘16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence’ campaign and at our AGM in March the guest speaker from the Red Rose Foundation informed us of their work towards eliminating domestic and family violence related deaths through education and community awareness.

Bundaberg members who participated in the 16 Days of Activism Prayer Service

What projects and activities are you currently working on?

Each Branch actively supports projects or activities within its own local community, as well as supporting Diocesan projects and national and global projects. Branch projects are many and varied, but all with the aim of sharing Christ’s love to others.

The AMUA Bundaberg Branch is currently raising awareness, support and participation for the two prayer services and dinner events to be held during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence between 25 November and 10 December. We have invited ZONTO Bundaberg, Anglican Men’s Society, the Catholic Women’s League, and the Church of Christ Women to a time of fellowship, with the intention of raising awareness about the campaign and the forthcoming prayer services to create a combined community event.

What have been the highlights of your time as Mothers Union President for our Diocese so far?

In 2017, the first year of my Presidency, the 125th Anniversary of Mothers Union in Australia was celebrated with a three-day Conference in Launceston, Tasmania with the theme, ‘Faith, Hope and Prayer’. In 2018, The State Conference in Rockhampton, with the theme ‘Befriend’ was held. And, the MULOA (Mothers Union Listening, Observing and Acting) Conference was held in Auckland in 2018, with a follow-up MULOA Conference held in Brisbane the following year. These are some of the highlights where friendship and fellowship, plus learning and sharing experiences, show what a powerful bond we have.

Brisbane Diocesan Mothers Union members who attended the 125th anniversary of Mothers Union in Launceston in 2017

What have been the key challenges of your roles so far and how have you worked through these?

The key challenge for me is living in Bundaberg, at the northern end of our Diocese and having to travel long distances for meetings and to visit branches. But, with the support of my husband, a good train service and the support and generosity of my Vice Presidents, I have been able to work through these.

Can you tell us a little about your personal faith journey?

My spiritual life began in my childhood and grew in my high school years at St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School. But it was not until I was 27 years of age that I came to a personal life changing faith.

Two years after I met my husband in church, we were married and both ready to serve God in the parish where we made our home. In the following years through Bible study and various avenues of spiritual teaching, we grew in our personal faith until in 1980 Robert felt God calling him into the ordained ministry. In 1983 Robert was ordained in Christ Church Cathedral.

What is your favourite scripture and why?

Philippians 4.13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

This verse has always motivated me to put my faith into action by stepping out to serve God in many and varied ministries during my 50 years as a committed Christian.

What person of faith inspires you the most and why?

One of the many people who has inspired me with her faith and courage is Mary Sumner, a clergy wife who was passionate about transforming the home-lives of parish families by helping women support one another in raising their children. In 1876, as a young grandmother, she founded The Mother’s Union which, by 1892, spread to Australia and other parts of the Commonwealth.

What are the primary strengths of the Church and what is the best way to make the most of these for the benefit of our communities?

The primary strength of the Church is the Good News of Jesus Christ and the faithful witness of his present-day disciples, who through their faith and loving care witness God to our communities. The best way to grow and strengthen these disciples is by gathering together in small groups to learn from God’s Word to pray, share and encourage one another to serve our church and community in Jesus’ name.

What are the primary challenges currently encountered by the Church and what is the best way to overcome these for the benefit of our communities?

The primary challenge is that we have ageing congregations and many half-empty churches with the younger generations sadly missing. The Church needs the Holy Spirit’s power to equip and empower faithful men and women to show to the missing generations a Church that is alive, welcoming and supportive, one that reaches out into the communities showing Christ’s love in all we do.

What is the kindest gesture you have ever received or witnessed?

All the country parishes we have served in have been extremely hard to leave, so it was like saying goodbye to family. Gilgandra in Western NSW is the parish that we will always remember for its many kind gestures with love and support, and the many times we were included in their special family gatherings.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received and who gave you this advice?

I always remember my dad’s advice to me as a young woman leaving home: “Don’t ever buy anything unless you can pay for it.”

What do you do in your free time to recharge and relax?

Listening to the birds during my early morning walks, reading Christian books, gardening and visiting family and spending time with the grandchildren.

Bev and Robert Perry enjoying time with their grandchildren in 2019

If you could have a billboard with any text on it, what would it say and why?

“Wise people still seek Jesus.”

So many people today go seeking after many worldly things when life in Jesus gives us all we need.

What book have you given away most as a gift and why?

A copy of the Bible, with aids to help reading it, has been given to many, with the hope that they too might discover the love and grace of our Heavenly Father.

Where do you do your best thinking?

Early morning soon after wakening or during my early morning walk.

What’s your best childhood memory?

Christmas Day at my grandparents’ was a big family gathering, including aunts, uncles and cousins, totalling about 30 people.

If you are having a bad day, what do you do to cheer yourself up?

If I were having a bad day, I think I would pick up a Barnabas Fund magazine and read about the global persecuted Church and remind myself just how blessed I am.

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