Mums At The Table, an initiative of Adventist Media, has launched 11 new online groups in Australia and New Zealand in response to increasing requests by mothers to meet up with someone in their local area.
The groups are part of two new ways to connect with mothers in the local community. Both new ways utilize Facebook, one via Messenger chat groups and the other as local meet-up groups.
“We did a poll, and about one in seven in our group of 7,000 mothers said they wanted to make new mom friends and meet in person,” Melody Tan, project manager of Mums At The Table, said of the outreach effort. “That’s 1,000 mothers spread out across Australia and New Zealand calling out for connection and community. As Christians, it’s our duty to respond to cries for help, and, with these mothers, it’s in the simplest way possible: being a friend.”
One of the groups, the Adelaide Facebook meet-up group, attracted nearly 60 new members in less than a week, with some of the mothers organizing a meet-up just two days after it was launched.
Lianne Zilm is a member of the Birdwood Seventh-day Adventist Church in South Australia and, as a volunteer moderator of the Adelaide group, organized one of the first meetings, attended by five other mums.
“There is such a need in the community for encouragement and connection, particularly for mothers. While meeting new people can be a bit out of my comfort zone, I think it’s good to rise to a challenge and connect with a diverse group of people from within the community. I also feel that God has put me in a suitable position as a stay-at-home mum, so I have the flexibility to attend meet-ups during the week,” Zilm, a mother of three young children and a part-time student, said about her volunteering.
“When I became a first-time mum, I recall the steep learning curve when it came to dealing with a new baby as well as the isolation that came with the massive change of lifestyle. I hope that this group will help connect mothers through shared experiences and mutual solidarity through the challenges of bringing up children and, of course, to share the fantastic parenting, health, and spiritual resources produced by Mums At The Table. I’m looking forward to attending more meet-ups and would love to encourage Adventist mums in Adelaide to join the group and be part of the fun!”
Nine of the eleven new groups are managed and moderated by volunteer Adventist church members. Tan points out that more volunteers are needed so that new groups can be launched.
“We want to launch new groups in every major city and state,” Tan said. “We have mothers in Queensland, Victoria, Christchurch, and New South Wales all requesting meet-ups, but we don't have enough resources to start those groups yet. If any church member is happy to make new mum friends, even if you're not in any of the locations mentioned, I would love to hear from you. We would also love to have more church members involved in the groups that we already have moderators for. The more, the merrier.”
At the same time, Mums At The Table is also looking to connect mothers from their Facebook group with playgroups organized by local Seventh-day Adventist churches, which was not possible earlier due to the coronavirus pandemic and the introduction of lockdown measures.
“Now that restrictions are easing, we are hoping to direct mums to attend these playgroups once they start up again. We’ve partnered with 14 churches so far, but I’m sure we have more playgroups than that, and so I would urge any church running a playgroup to get in touch with me.”