26 June 2012

Taking Us forward into the future with a rebranding

A walk in the woods at High Leigh today (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Patrick Comerford

At the end of USPG’s day conference in High Leigh, Hoddesdon, the Council of USPG met this evening to deal with the formal business of the oldest Anglican mission society, and to look forward to the future of the society.

Much of the focus was on the proposed rebranding of USPG and rhe new tagline:

every person
every community
a full life

The Church of Ireland has two representatives on the council – the Revd Lynne Gibson, curate of Dundela in Belfast, and myself.

The council reviewed the work of the society for the past year, receiving the reports of the trustees, and reports on the society’s activities and finances.

This was the last council meeting for Canon Linda Ali, the outgoing chair, although she hopes to remain a member of council .

The new chair of the trustees from next Sunday [1 July 2012] is the Revd Canon Christopher Chivers, Vicar of John Keble Church, Mill Hill, in the Diocese of London. He is a former Canon Precentor of both Saint George’s Cathedral, Cape Town, and Westminster Abbey, London, and a former Canon Chancellor of Blackburn Cathedral. He is a published composer whose choral works have been sung by the choirs of King’s College, Cambridge, Westminster Abbey, Blackburn, Bristol, Cape Town and Gloucester Cathedrals, as well as by the choirs of Gonville and Caius College and Queens’ College, Cambridge, and New College, Magdalen College, Lincoln College and Saint Peter’s College, Oxford.

As well as saying farewell to Linda Ali as chair of the trustees, we also said farewell to three trustees, Monica Bolley, Richard Barrett and the Revd Roger Antell, whose terms of office had come to an end, and we elected five new trustees:

● John Chilver, an accountant and former USPG mission companion in Tanzania and Belize
● The Revd Joabe Cavalcanti, Vicar of Saint Barnabas, Mitcham (Diocese of Southwark).and a former USPG staff member
● Simon Gill, who has worked for the Department for international Development, and who has worked in Tanzania, Lesotho, Laos and Kenya.
● Rosemary Kempsell, who has been worldwide president of the Mothers’ Union for the past five years
● Jacky Humphreys, a barrister working in family law and a member of the General Synod of the Church of England.

The council also elected two new Honorary Vice-Presidents: Bishop Michael Doe, who was General Secretary from 2004 to 2011, and Bishop Royden Screech, who was a trustee from 2005 to 2011.

The council members also debated the proposed rebranding of USPG, with concerns focussed on the perceived lack of an explicit Christian identity in the new name and tag line. A launch date is planned in November.

Dr Evie Vernon reminded us that we began as SPG, and pointed out that many may have had problems with an acronym like EEPS, which had been a major part of our discussions today. As she told us: “Change is difficult but change is inevitable”

Canon Brian Stevenson (Rochester Diocese) said we needed shock therapy and to revitalise the society. “And we should do it together as Us.”

Earlier in the meeting, the company secretary Michael Hart, reported the sale of the former College of the Ascension in Selly Oak, Birmingham, which has been a lengthy and complicated process over the past six weeks. The sale was completed eight weeks ago when the college was sold to al-Mahdi Institute.

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