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 mums to meet up with someone in their local area.
The groups are part of two new ways to connect with mums in the local community. Both new ways utilise 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 7000 mums said they wanted to make new mum friends and meet in person,” said Melody Tan, project manager of Mums At The Table. “That’s 1000 mums 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 mums, 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 mums organising a meet-up just two days after it was launched.
Lianne Zilm is a member of the Birdwood Seventh-day Adventist Church (SA) and as a volunteer moderator of the group, organised one of the first Adelaide meetings, attended by five other mums.
“There is such a need in the community for encouragement and connection, particularly for mums. While meeting new people can be a bit out of my comfort zone, I actually think that it’s good to rise to a challenge and to connect with a diverse group of people from within the community. I also feel that God has put me in an opportune position as a stay-at-home mum so I have the flexibility to attend meet-ups during the week,” says Ms Zilm, a mother of three young children and a part-time student.
“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 am hoping that this group will help connect mums 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 that are produced by Mums At The Table. I’m really 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 11 new groups are managed and moderated by volunteer Adventist church members. More volunteers are needed so that new groups can be launched.
“We want to launch new groups in every major city and state,” says Ms Tan. “We have mums in Queensland, Victoria, Christchurch and country 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 mums from their Facebook group with playgroups organised 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 would urge any church running a playgroup to get in touch with me.”
The 11 new Mums At The Table online groups are based in the Blue Mountains and Emu Plains (NSW), Lake Macquarie and Newcastle (NSW), Ryde (NSW), Northwest Hills District (NSW), Chatswood (NSW), Gold Coast (Qld), Southeast Melbourne (Vic), Perth (WA), Adelaide (SA), as well as North Auckland and South Auckland (NZ). All groups, except North and South Auckland, have at least one volunteer church member managing and moderating the group.