Thursday, 3 July 2008

At Swanwick with USPG (2)

Saint Andrew’s Parish Church on The Green in Swanwick, Derbyshire (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2008)

Patrick Comerford

The annual conference of USPG – Anglicans in World Mission was in its second day at Swanwick today.

Our day began at 7.30 with the Eucharist celebrated by Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe of Kurunagala in Sri Lanka. And as we were commemorating the Apostle Thomas, how appropriate that the Gospel was read by an Indian priest, the Revd Jessie Anand, who is USPG’s Locum regional Desk Officer for Asia and Oceania.

Throughout the day, we broke up into six workshops, morning and afternoon, looking at Justice and Reconciliation; Health, Education and Development; Leadership Formation; Creative worship in a global context, which took place in the Chapel; Christian Lifestyle, which experienced some hands-on-bread-making; and Holistic Mission.

In the morning, I joined the workshop discussing Holistic Mission, and led by the Revd Canon Dr Chad Gandiya, USPG’s regional Desk Officer for Africa and the Indian Ocean. The participants included the Revd Andrew Johnson, still remembered by many for his time at the Church of Ireland Theological College; Anne Pankhurst, who has represented the Scottish Episcopal Church at the General Synod of the Church of Ireland; and Bishop Jo Seoka of Pretoria.

In the afternoon, I was part of the workshop on Leadership Formation, which concentrated on Theological Education. The workshop was facilitated by Clare Amos, who is USPG’s Theological Consultant and co-ordinator of TEAC (Theological Education for the Anglican Communion), Bishop Michael Doe, and the Revd Val Ogden.

Clare Amos introduced us to the priorities in theological education at different stages in ministry that are being identified by TEAC, including the “outcomes-based” models of education needed for bishops, priests and transitional deacons, vocational deacons, licensed lay ministers and lay people.

The Revd Val Ogden introduced us to different priorities in theological education, and spoke of the work of the Selly Oak Centre for Mission Studies (SOCMS), which succeeded the United College of the Ascension in Birmingham in 2006 and is part of the Queen’s Foundation, Birmingham.

Canon George Wauchope of SOCMS compared his experiences of theological education in Zimbabwe and Botswana with his experiences in England. I was invited to describe theological college at the Church of Ireland Theological College. And Habib Nader, USPG’s Mission Personnel Programmes Officer, introduced to the way USPG prioritises spending on theological education.

Both workshops included Bible studies: in the morning we looked at Acts 12: 1-19, and in the afternoon we concluded with a study of Genesis 11: 1-9. In the first Bible study, we wondered who were the angels in our lives who brought us good news, and where did we find the doors were still locked against us. In the second study, many people referred to the way God loves diversity and how we must continue journeying with God on our pilgrimage.

After the council of USPG held its annual general meeting, we ended our day once again with worship in the beautiful chapel at Swanwick.

Canon Patrick Comerford is a member of the board of USPG Ireland and is Director of Spiritual Formation, the Church of Ireland Theological College