Each morning in Swanwick this week, I have awoken to the sound of birds singling around this small lake below my window (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2010)
The annual conference of USPG has heard very inspiring and challenging addresses by both Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Archbishop Thabo Makgoba. The way they spoke and the way they were listened to was a good example of the role and mission of USPG, according to Clare Amos of USPG and the Anglican Communion Office.
But there has also been pain – and pain that has been expressed – created by both the divisions within the Anglican Communion and in reaction to decisions about the future of USPG.
The expressions of that pain reflected the measure of the love people have for USPG and for the Anglican Communion, according to the Revd Rachel Carnegie, International Development Secretary for the Archbishop of Canterbury, who led our closing reflections on the third and closing day of the annual conference of USPG this morning.
She quoted one person who had asked her: “How do I leave this place and tell a story of hope?”
But, she said, there is hope aplenty alongside the pain. These are challenging and painful times for USPG and for the Anglican Communion, but they are challenging times too for the poor, the hungry and those suffering injustice. Yet, in the midst of pain Christ is faithful.
She spoke eloquently of the main of many heard during the conference, including the pain of church leaders, the USPG leadership, trustees and staff, mission companions, and the pain of those voices not heard.
She asked us: “Where has the Holy Spirit been working in this conference?”
Her prayer was that each of us would continue to dream and act, in dreams that are inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Archbishop Makgoba is presiding at the closing Eucharist, according to the South African liturgy, in the Hayes Conference Centre in Swanwick, Derbyshire. The preacher is Dr Evie Vernon, Director of the Selly Oak Centre for Mission Studies.
Canon Patrick Comerford is a member of the Council of USPG and a director of USPG Ireland
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