Wednesday, 22 July 2015

An inspiring week discussing
the next stages in mission

Walking through the fields near High Leigh in this morning’s sunshine (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Patrick Comerford

The annual conference of the Anglican mission agency Us came to end today with the Rev Dr Monodeep Daniel of the Delhi Brotherhood presiding at the Closing Eucharist in High Leigh. Deaconess Dr Rachele Evie Vernon, Us Global Relations Theological Adviser, was the preacher, and drawing of the stories of Judith and Saint Mary Magdalene, she spoke with caring passion of the way women wage war and peace for the values we have been talking about all this week.

Today we are celebrating the feast of Saint Mary Magdalene, the first witness of the Resurrection, and this afternoon Rachel Treweek is being consecrated Bishop of Gloucester in Canterbury Cathedral.

It is good to take part in an Anglican mission conference that has been a worshipping and praying conference too, with regular worship in the Eucharist, in the daily offices, and with Bible studies.

For the past three or four days, we have been looking at “The Transforming Gospel,” facing tough questions about how the Gospel is Good News for women and sharing experiences of inter-religious living around the world.

There have been powerful contributions from thoughtful and inspiring women, including Canon Delene Mark from South Africa, Ms Sheba Sultan from the Church of Pakistan, Ms Anjun Anwar, a Muslim on the staff of Blackburn Cathedral, the Revd Dr Miranda Threlfall-Holmes of Durham, and Canon Andi Hofbauer of Wakefield Cathedral.

There have been disturbing reports of people trafficking and gender-based violence, and encouraging stories too of the empowerment of women, the work of the Delhi Brotherhood, and work on the threats of climate change ahead of the Paris conference next December.

This morning we had very full discussions as we explored new ways to communicate Us (the new name for USPG, the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel), and asked ourselves what excites us about our work, and how we can promote Us and the work of the society.

I woke this morning to another bright, sunny day in the Hertfordshire countryside, and between breakfast and the final day of conference there was time for a walk in the fields close to the High Leigh Conference Centre, on the edges of Hoddesdon.

The Council of Us met last night, with reports, accounts and the election of new trustees. I was one of the three new trustees elected, along with Ms Jean Price and Mr Martin Canning.

Our discussions this week are inspiring and important for carrying the work of Us through to the next generation. These have been deep and searching discussions.

I am catching the last flight back to Dublin from Stansted later tonight. But I hope to find some time in Cambridge this afternoon, including time to browse in the bookshops, to drop into Sidney Sussex College, and perhaps another walk by the river.

Collect:

Almighty God,
whose Son restored Mary Magdalene
to health of mind and body
and called her to be a witness to his resurrection:
forgive our sins and heal us by your grace,
that we may serve you in the power of his risen life;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post-Communion Prayer:

God of life and love,
whose risen Son called Mary Magdalene by name
and sent her to tell of his resurrection to his apostles:
in your mercy, help us,
who have been united with him in this Eucharist,
to proclaim the good news
that he is alive and reigns, now and for ever.

High Leigh in the sunshine this morning (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

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