16 June 2023

Daily prayers in Ordinary Time
with USPG: (19) 16 June 2023

Inside the chapel in the USPG offices in Trinity Street, near Southwark Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

The First Sunday after Trinity was celebrated on Sunday (11 June 2023). The Calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship today (16 June 2023) remembers Richard, Bishop of Chichester (died 1253) and Joseph Butler, Bishop of Durham, Philosopher (died 1752).

Before this day begins, I am taking some time this morning for prayer, reading and reflection.

Over these weeks after Trinity Sunday, I am reflecting each morning in these ways:

1, Looking at relevant images or stained glass window in a church, chapel or cathedral I know;

2, the Gospel reading of the day in the Church of England lectionary;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

Four missionary bishops on four windows in the USPG chapel in Trinity Street, Southwark (Photograph: Patrick Comerford; click on image for full-screen view)

The Chapel, USPG offices, Trinity Street, Southwark:

My photographs this morning (16 June 2023) return to Trinity Street, near Southwark Cathedral, and the offices of USPG. USPG moved there in 2019, and USPG’s unique stained-glass windows of four pioneering missionary bishops were put in place in the USPG chapel in 2020.

These windows date from the 250th anniversary of SPG (now USPG) in 1951. The bishops depicted in the windows are: Samuel Ajayi Crowther, Vedanayakam Samuel Azariah, Tsae-seng Sing, and Joseph Sakunoshin Motoda.

Bishop Tsae-seng Sing (1861-1940) was the first ethnic Chinese bishop in the Anglican Communion and an Anglican bishop in China. His father was the first Anglican priest in Chekiang (Zhejiang) Province. Sing Tsae-seng was educated at Trinity College, Ningpo, and ordained in 1890. He was Headmaster of his old college for 29 years. He was also Archdeacon of Chekiang from 1910 to 1918.

He was consecrated an Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of North China at Holy Trinity Cathedral, Shanghai, in 1918, which provided the theme of this prayer diary yesterday. While has was an assistant bishop in the diocese, the Bishops of Chekiang were two Dublin-born bishops, Herbert James Molony (1908-1928), and John Curtis (1929-1950).

These windows have brought the chapel to life, with their bright colours and their sense of history. USPG’s General Secretary, the Revd Duncan Dormor, has said, ‘They represent where we’ve come from, who we are, and for me they speak to the nature of the Anglican Communion today.’

USPG was founded in 1701 and I have been a supporter of USPG throughout my adult life. My six-year term as a Trustee of USPG came to an end in 2021, and I miss the friendships that have grown over these years, and the inspiration have drawn from fellow trustees, staff members, and other people linked with USPG.

However, many of these friendships continue to grow, and it was a privilege for me and for Charlotte earlier this year to work on behalf of USPG, visiting church-linked projects in Budapest and Helsinki working with Ukrainian refugees in Hungary and Finland.

For many years, I attended the USPG conferences each year in High Leigh, near Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire, and in Swanwick in Derbyshire. This year, the conference has moved to in Yarnfield Park in Stone, Staffordshire, and opens today (16 June 2023).

I am sorry I cannot take part in the conference, as I have been in Dublin since yesterday, working on a television documentary. This year’ conference, on the theme of ‘Justice & the Church,’ is exploring the theme of justice across the Anglican Communion.

This is an opportunity to hear from guest speakers and to engage with workshops and bible studies focused on the themes of race, gender, and climate action. The conference concludes tomorrow (17 June 2023).

Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther in the USPG windows (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

John 21: 15-19 (NRSVA):

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ 16 A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ 17 He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.’ 19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’

Bishop VS Azariah holding Dornakal Cathedral in one of the windows in the USPG chapel in Trinity Street, Southwark (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

Today’s Prayer:

The theme this week in ‘Pray With the World Church,’ the Prayer Diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is ‘Opening the World for Children through Learning.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday.

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (16 June 2023) invites us to pray:

We pray for the Estate Community Development Mission – for all they are doing for workers and especially their children so that they can experience an education.

Bishop Tsae-seng Sing of Chekiang in the windows (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)


Most merciful redeemer,
who gave to your bishop Richard a love of learning,
a zeal for souls and a devotion to the poor:
grant that, encouraged by his example,
we may know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly,
day by day,
who with the Father and the Holy Spirit are alive and reign,
one God, now and for ever.

Post Communion:

God, shepherd of your people,
whose servant Richard revealed the loving service of Christ
in his ministry as a pastor of your people:
by this eucharist in which we share
awaken within us the love of Christ
and keep us faithful to our Christian calling;
through him who laid down his life for us,
but is alive and reigns with you, now and for ever.

Bishop Joseph Sakunoshin Motoda in the windows (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The windows in the USPG chapel date from the 250th anniversary of SPG in 1951 (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

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