26 May 2016

Us conference looks at justice issues
through the eyes of the world church

Patrick Comerford

The annual conference of the Anglican mission agency Us (USPG) takes place this year at the Hayes Conference Centre in Swanwick, Derbyshire, from Monday 6 June to Wednesday 8 June. The conference is on theme, ‘Just One World,’ and the final details of the conference programme were announced earlier this week.

This year, the conference is looking at issues of justice through the eyes of the world Church, inspired by Micah 6: 8: ‘What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?’

The conference is exploring issues such as climate change, migration, globalisation, the poverty gap and gender equality, and asking how the Church can best respond.

This in the first time for the Us/USPG conference to return to Swanwick since 2010. In the intervening years, the conference has taken place each year at the High Leigh Conference Centre in Hoddesdon, Hertforfdshire.

Announcing the programme details earlier this week, Janette O’Neill, Us General Secretary, said: “We pray that you will be inspired and encouraged to return to your dioceses and parishes with a fresh enthusiasm to remain in partnership with the global church.”

The Hayes Conference Centre in Swanwick, Derbyshire … the venue for this year’s Us (USPG) conference (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

One of the principal speakers this year is Canon Malcolm Bradshaw, the Senior Anglican Chaplain in Athens, who speaks about the refugee crisis in Greece and the response of the Churches.

At the same session on Tuesday morning, Nadine Daniel, co-ordinator of ‘Hope+ Foodbank,’ will speak about her work with refugees at the Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool.

On Tuesday afternoon, Michael Roy of the Church of Bangladesh and Ruth de Barros, of the Diocese of the Amazon will speak on Climate Justice and Human Trafficking.

Five one-hour elective workshops have been organised for Tuesday morning and afternoon. These are being led by:

● Michael Roy, Acting Director of the Church of Bangladesh Social Development Programme Workshop (“Protecting Health”),

● Habib Nader, co-ordinator of the Journey with Us programme (“Growing the Church”),

● Father Monodeep Daniel of the Delhi Brotherhood Society and the Us International Programmes Team (“Enabling Livelihoods”),

● Jo Musker-Sherwood, of Hope for the Future, and Ruth de Barros, of the Diocese of the Amazon (“Promoting Justice,” focusing on climate justice),

● Nadine Daniel, co-ordinator of ‘Hope+ Foodbank’ at Liverpool Cathedral (“Responding to crises,” focusing on the refugee crisis).

The conference opens in Derbyshire Hall on Monday afternoon [6 June 2016] with a welcome and introductions with the Revd Canon Chris Chivers, Chair of the Us Trustees. At the first session, Janette O’Neill plans to look back over the past year’s achievements and highlights. After dinner, Session 2 looks forward to the future of the society.

During the conference, the Council of Us holds its annual meeting on Tuesday evening.

Canon Christopher Burke, Precentor of Sheffield Cathedral and a Us Trustee, is presiding at the Eucharist on Tuesday morning. During the conference, the opening worship and morning and night prayers are being led the Worship Team from Westcott House Theological College in Cambridge, including Andy Coates, Rachel Beck, Anna Stuttard and Dan Parkinson.

The Revd John Rogers, Rector of Saint George’s Church, Barbados, is leading a Bible study on Tuesday morning.

The Revd Karen Turner, a former volunteer with Journey with Us in Belize, is presiding at the Closing Eucharist on Wednesday. The deacon at the Eucharist is the Revd Dominique Turnham, a former volunteer with Journey with Us in South Africa, the preacher is Janette O’Neill, and the closing prayer is bring led by Canon Chivers.

The Lake at the Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)