06 April 2021

‘For Such a Time as This’:
hoping to take part in
USPG’s 2021 conference

‘For Such a Time as This’ … the theme of this year’s USPG conference

Patrick Comerford

With the roll-out of the vaccine in both Ireland and Britain, I am still holding out hope that I may be able to get to the annual conference of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) later this summer in the High Leigh Conference Centre near Hoddesdon, in Hertfordshire.

The conference last year was due to take place in Swanwick, Derbyshire, from 20 to 22 July 2020, with the theme ‘Rejoice in the Lord always: God’s People in God’s Mission’, immediately before the Lambeth Conference. I had been hoping to spend some days in Lichfield too before or after the conference. But both conferences were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

I have not been back in England since March last year, and I have not been in High Leigh since July 2019.

I am in Dublin this evening to visit my GP tomorrow for a check-up on my sarcoidosis and an injection for my Vitamin B12 deficiency. But I am also hoping to get a date for my first Covid vaccine.

Should my first and second jabs come through on time, and should travel between these two islands become possible, then perhaps – just perhaps – I may be able to take part in the conference, with even the possibility of a visit to Cambridge.

The USPG conference this year has the working title, ‘For Such a Time as This,’ similar to the title of USPG’s Lenten course this year, ‘For Such a Time.’

We have not witnessed ‘such a time as this’ on a global scale of pandemic, ecological crisis and racial divisions in living memory. What do these major global factors say to the mission of the Anglican Church?

How can USPG and its partners speak prophetically into these important issues alongside supporting Churches in their community responses?

For the first time this year, the USPG Annual Conference will be both a physical and a virtual event. The full conference takes place from 4 pm on Monday 19 July to 2 pm on Wednesday 21 July at the High Leigh Conference Centre near Hoddesdon, in Hertfordshire.

Key sections of the conference will be livestreamed for a virtual audience in four two-hour sessions over those three days.

The annual meeting of USPG Council takes place on Tuesday 20 July, and my six-year term as a trustee of USPG comes to a conclusion at that meeting.

The all-inclusive fee for the full conference is £190. It is also possible to register for the day conference on Tuesday and for the online conference. In the event of the conference being cancelled due to further Corona virus restrictions, a full refund will be given to everyone who has registered for the physical conference.

Needless to say, all my travel plans are more in hope than in anticipation today, and subject to the roll-out of the vaccine and changes in government guidelines on trave.

Meanwhile, USPG supporters are being invited to join USPG later this month for a ‘Global Mission Webinar’ on USPG work in the Philippimnes.

The webinar, from 10 am on Thursday 29 April expects to hear three different speakers from the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) share their experience and knowledge of the mission of the Church among the Lumad communities of Philippines.

Speakers are introducing case studies from grass roots mission work, along with challenges and opportunities that are being encountered by the Church in their accompaniment programme.

Find out more about these events on the USPG website HERE.

The High Leigh Conference Centre near Hoddeson in Hertfordshire … the venue for the USPG Conference this year (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Praying in Lent and Easter 2021:
49, Resurrection frescoes, Tolleshunt Knights

The Empty Tomb … a fresco in the Monastery of Saint John the Baptist in Tolleshunt Knights (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

During the Season of Easter this year, I am continuing my theme from Lent, taking some time each morning to reflect in these ways:

1, photographs of a church or place of worship that has been significant in my spiritual life;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society, Partners in the Gospel).

Easter began on Sunday with Easter Day. This week, I am offering photographs of images of the Resurrection from seven churches, some of which I have already visited during the season of Lent.

My photographs this morning (6 April 2021) are from frescoes in the Stavropegic Monastery of Saint John the Baptist in Tolleshunt Knights, near Maldon in Essex.

I visited this monastery on a one-day pilgrimage each year while I was a student at the summer school in Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, organised by the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies.

The monastery was founded by Archimandrite Sophrony (1896-1993), a disciple of Saint Silouan (1866-1938) of Mount Athos. This mixed community gives a central place to the Jesus Prayer and is a popular place for pilgrims and Orthodox visitors.

Inside the Resurrection Chapel at the Monastery of Saint John the Baptist in Tolleshunt Knights (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

John 20: 11-18 (NRSVA)

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ 14 When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ 16 Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God”.’ 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (6 April 2021) invites us to pray:

Let us pray for the followers of Jesus in this age who are witnessing in challenging places as they spread the good news of Jesus’ resurrection.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The Resurrection and the Crucifixion in a fresco in the Monastery of Saint John the Baptist in Tolleshunt Knights (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org