USPG update-6-8 June
Just one world
A great USPG gathering of members, staff, supporters and visitors took place at the lovely setting of The Hayes in Swanwick from June 6th to 8th. The weather was excellent for our conference and it was wonderful to be there to share in the experi-ence.
The news that we were reverting to the traditional USPG name was met with great approval!
Welcome was given by Canon Chris Chivers, Chair of USPG Trustees and Principal of Westcott House, Anglican Theologi-cal College in Cambridge. The worship team from Westcott House led us at Conference. This gave the keen ordinands time to get to grips with the liturgy and music for the assembled throng. Chris Chivers kept a watchful eye from the piano!
Looking back over the last year and to the future were topics covered by Janette O’Neil, USPG General Secretary.
Tuesday was action-packed, especially for the day visitors, as it formed the Day Conference. Eucharist at 7:30 a.m. and breakfast were followed by a welcome from Janette and an excellent Bible study by Revd John Rogers, Rector of St John’s Church, Barbados. This was based on Gen. 11: v1-11, the story of the Tower of Babel. ‘Just one language. An ideology, not just words.’ He also spoke of Micah 6: v8 – the idea of justice, mercy and walking humbly with God.
John, who trained at Codrington College, Barbados, also touched on the idea of the outcast being brought in. Are we ready to speak one language? Slave labour was also discussed. Peace and the language of love were linked with the uncondi-tional love of the Gospel. ‘Just one World – Just one language’. Love in any language and God in all! It was a well received keynote speech and gave us plenty to ponder.
The refugee crisis was featured in Session 3 – Fr Malcolm Bradshaw, MBE, Senior Anglican Chaplain in Greece and Nadine Daniel, co-ordinator of Hope and Foodbanks at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral took part.
This is still a very severe crisis in Greece, and covered issues with the indigenous Greeks, needing 10,000 meals to be given out each day, lots of starving children and unemployment.
The refugees (registered in Germany) – almost a concentration camp situation. USPG donations are helping with Chaplain-cy. The Salvation Army is also there. The people are traumatised, needing help and are desperate to be reunited as fami-lies, after separation.
Nadine Daniel is involved in ‘inward and outward’ mission, helping the homeless and refugees. The hidden homeless and the street homeless turn to Nadine and the mission project for support and help. Asylum-seekers are often in fear of their lives. "Our world in one foodbank," says Nadine.
Before lunch I went to a workshop on ‘Enabling livelihoods’. Naomi helped in Brazil and mentioned schoolchildren with part-time education being targeted by gangs, once out of class. Guitar lessons helped them! The Delhi Brotherhood was also present in this group session. They spoke of assisting families in crisis in Delhi and of various self-help groups - that is teaching tailored to help mothers gain independence via this work. Climate, justice and human trafficking were described by Ruth de Barros, an experienced worker in the Amazon Diocese.
The packed programme continued with the AGM and Council meeting after dinner. After night prayer we enjoyed a pub quiz in the hall. I won some prayer books and a replica of the early USPG badge.
On Wednesday we were preparing to return to return home, full of the ideas and insights we had gained over the three days. We had a resource session and the closing Eucharist by Revd Karen Turner, former USPG volunteer in Belize. Janette O’Neil preached. This indeed was a full Conference programme featuring ‘Just one World’, of which we each form a unique and special part.
Watch out for ‘Call the Midwife’ Christmas Day Special. USPG of the period is featured. (Dr) Edgar Ruddock, USPG Vice-chair acts as a coroner in this episode.
Christine Tedder, Parish representative and USPG Council member
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