Thursday, 28 June 2012

Us. Every person, every community, a full life.

From November this year, USPG will be its changing name to United Society, to be known as 'Us'.

Canon Linda Ali, the outgoing chair of USPG’s Trustees, explained it was time for USPG to update our 311-year-old name.

She said: ‘The original title given to us by our founder, the Revd Thomas Bray, was The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, which was later abbreviated to SPG. No doubt this name worked well in its day, but words like “propagation” are simply out-dated in the twenty-first century. So it was time for a change.

'We're still about sowing seeds and nurturing faith and transformation in communities, but we want to speak in a language that resonates today.

‘Our new name, Us, is directly derived from USPG, so it speaks to our heritage, but it also speaks about inclusivity. There is no “them”; we are all “us”. Our work – in partnership with the churches of the Anglican Communion – is for the benefit of the whole community. No-one is excluded.’

A message from Archbishop Rowan

The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams endorsed the name change. He sent the following message to conference delegates:

'The worldwide church is called by God's love to promote life in all its fullness for everyone through its work in mission and development. We are call to rediscover our inter-dependence, our mutuality; to rediscover what it means to be "Us". This understanding of human dignity and mutuality in the gospel has always been at the heart of USPG's mission.

'This inspirational historical identity will continue as the United Society renames itself as Us, with its focus on "every person, every community, a full life". Indeed, the flourishing of each person is bound up in theflourishing of every other.'

He added: 'I send my greetings and blessings to you all at your conference this week - and as you continue to discern and respond to the calling of God to all of us.'

New name and strapline

The new strapline for Us - 'Every person, every community, a full life’ - is designed to underscore the concept of inclusion and point to a vision of the future where the words of Jesus in John 10:10 become a reality - the experience of life in all its fullness.

USPG Chief Executive Janette O’Neill said: ‘We are very excited about this new milestone in our history. It demonstrates our commitment to living out the gospel and communicating this message with clarity.

‘There are hundreds of international charities doing excellent work today, but we remain one of just a few agencies that are committed to supporting the churches of the worldwide Anglican Communion as they deliver transformational change.

‘We hope our new name will help people relate better to the work we are doing today. We are opening a door and inviting everyone to join Us.’

In 1965, SPG merged with the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa (UMCA) to form the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (USPG). Three years later, the Cambridge Mission to Delhi (CMD) became part of USPG.

Historically, SPG was a traditional missionary-sending agency. John Wesley was one of many hundreds of missionaries sent around the world by SPG.

However, over the decades, this view of mission has shifted, and the focus today is on inspiring local communities to unlock their potential so they can overcome whatever barriers they face, whether economic, political or spiritual.

Derek O'Neill and Patrick Comerford, and above, Yoshimi Gregory, Janette O'Neill, Richard Bartlett, Linda Chambers, Jan de Bruijn, Lynne Gibson and Patrick Comerford.