Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Bridging the challenges of local mission and global mission

The bridge at the lake in High Leigh ... this morning we talked about bridging the gap between local mission and global mission (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

Patrick Comerford

The annual conference of Us – the Anglican mission agency formerly known as USPG (the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel) – comes to a close today.

We have been meeting for three days at the High Leigh Conference Centre on the edge of Hoddesdon, in rural Hertfordshire.

The conference theme has been ‘Brave Steps’ and at our closing session this morning, we were invited to consider the development of Us programmes focused on churches in Britain and Ireland. Our discussions were facilitated by Janice Price, who is Church Relations Adviser with Us, World Mission Policy Adviser for the Church of England, and the author of World Shaped Mission.

We talked about our understandings of local mission and the challenges of global mission in our parishes, and we were asked: How can Us help you to address the challenges of local and global mission in your parish?

Dr Peter Rookes spoke of world mission being the local experience in the Diocese of Birmingham, with the variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds that make up multicultural Birmingham. His motto for dialogue in a multicultural context is: “Speak with pride and listen with respect.”

Seen in a corner behind the terrace at the High Leigh Conference Centre in Hoddesdon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

Last night in High Leigh, Canon Richard Bartlett, who is also a member of the board of USPG Ireland, launched this year’s Harvest Pack. This includes worship materials, sermon notes, Bible studies, intercessions and fundraising ideas for churches, community groups and schools.

The worship materials in the pack are inspired by this year’s Harvest Lectionary reading (John 6: 25-35), the story of the feeding of the 5,000 (John 6: 1-14) and the work of Us in the Philippines.

More resources – including collection envelopes, a short film and a PowerPoint presentation – are available at

The Church of Ireland and USPG Ireland presence at this year’s conference also included Bishop Michael Burrows of Cashel and Ossory, who chairs Us Ireland; Canon Arthur Barrett and Gerard O’Callaghan from Rossory Parish in the Diocese of Clogher; Jan de Bruijn and Linda Chambers de Bruijn; Nola Nixon from Ballymore Parish in Tandragee; and the Revd Lyn Gibson, who with me represents the Church of Ireland on the council of Us. This morning we were also joined by my colleague at the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, David Brown.

Morning Prayer this morning was led by the Revd Canon Rob Jones of Worcester Diocese. The conference comes to a close with the Eucharist celebrated by the Right Revd Dr Jacob Ayeebo, Bishop of Tamale in Ghana.

Looking out at the lawns and the countryside at High Leigh (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

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