12 May 2024

United Beyond Borders:
USPG announces
programme for 2024
conference in High Leigh

The USPG Conference ‘United Beyond Borders’ takes place in the High Leigh Conference Centre in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, from 9-11 July

Patrick Comerford

The Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) has announced the programme for this year’s annual conference, which takes place in the High Leigh Conference Centre at Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire from 9 to 11 July 2024.

‘So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3: 26-28).

Elections have taken place in India in recent days, and the announcement of an election date in the United Kingdom is imminent. More than 60 countries are holding elections this year, with over 2 billion voters expected to go to the polls.

Elections in countries like India, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the US will determine the political landscape for years to come, with key decisions being made on immigration, peaceful co-existence, warfare and climate.

We live in a world where in many ways, it can feel as if walls are going up and borders are closing.

So this year USPG is exploring what it looks like to be ‘United Beyond Borders’.

In an increasingly volatile and bordered world, how can we as members of the one global Church embody Christ’s love and build bridges across the borders that divide us?

Are we, as the Church, brave enough to welcome the stranger and challenge prejudices against displaced people or people on the move?

How does a mission agency, and the Church, confront its past of benefitting from colonisation?

The USPG conference brings together volunteers, supporters, representatives from the Anglican Communion, USPG staff and trustees and more. All are welcome to take part in this three-day residential conference which involves keynote speakers, workshops and several times of fellowship and worship.

This year, USPG is returning to the beautiful High Leigh Conference Centre for the conference, from Tuesday 9 July to Thursday 11 July 2024, with the option to attend for the day on Wednesday 10 July.

People attending the conference are invited to arrive at High Leigh in Hoddesdon from 10 am on Tuesday (9 July), and the conference begins at 11 am.

The speakers include the Very Revd Professor Kelly Brown Douglas, Dean of Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, Canon Theologian at Washington National Cathedral and Theologian in Residence at Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York.

Kelly is considered a leader in the field of womanist theology, racial reconciliation, social justice and sexuality and the Black church. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Dr Douglas was one of the first 10 Black women to be ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church. She was an associate priest at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in Washington DC for more than 20 years.

She has written seven books, and her most recent books are Resurrection Hope: A Future Where Black Lives Matter (2021) and Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God (2015).

The Rigevd Dr Dalcy Badeli Dlamini is the Bishop of Eswatini, the second woman bishop in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), and the fourth woman bishop in the Province of Southern Africa.

After an early career as a teacher, Bishop Dlamini was ordained in the Diocese of Swaziland, where she ministered in various capacities, including at the University of Swaziland, until 2020. She has been Diocesan Dean of Studies and Rector and Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Polokwane. She was a member of the International Anglican-Lutheran Commission and is a member of the Steering Group of the International Anglican Women’s Network.

Bradon Muilenburg is the Anglican Refugee Support Lead in Northern Calais. He is originally from Michigan, and spent time as a volunteer with the Taizé community in France, before moving to work with an ecumenical Catholic Worker house of hospitality, Maria Skobtsova House, in Calais.

He has been based in Calais with his wife, Marie, since 2021. His role is the outcome of a joint partnership between the Diocese in Europe, the Diocese of Canterbury and the USPG in response to the growing numbers of migrants around the Channel ports in Northern France.

I was at the USPG conference in High Leigh two years ago, ‘Living Stones, Living Hope’, (25-27 July 2022), but missed last year’s conference, ‘Justice & the Church,’ in Yarnfield Park in Stone, Staffordshire (16-17 June 2023), so I hope to be able to take part in this year’s conference.

An individual standard conference ticket for two nights is £160; for ordinands this is £75; and a couple standard ticket is £300. A Tuesday day ticket, including lunch, is £50. There is a limited number of Individual three-night standard tickets at £200.

Click here to book

The High Leigh Conference Centre in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire … the venue for the USPG Conference (9-11 July), ‘United Beyond Borders’ (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Daily prayer in Easter 2024:
43, 12 May 2024

‘Send your Holy Spirit to strengthen us’ (Collect) … ‘Come Holy Spirit’ … the holy water stoup in the Chapel of Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Easter is a 50-day season that continues until the Day of Pentecost next Sunday (19 May 2024). We are in an in-between time in the Season of Easter, between Ascension Day and the Day of Pentecost, and today is the Seventh Sunday of Easter (Easter VII), or the Sunday after Ascension Day. Easter was celebrated in the Greek Orthodox Church last Sunday (5 May), and today is known in the Orthodox Church as ‘Thomas Sunday.’

Throughout this Season of Easter, my morning reflections each day include the daily Gospel reading, the prayer in the USPG prayer diary, and the prayers in the Collects and Post-Communion Prayer of the day.

Later this morning, I hope to be singing with the choir at the Parish Eucharist in Saint Mary and Saint Giles Church, Stony Stratford. But, before this day begins, I am taking some quiet time this morning to give thanks, for reflection, prayer and reading in these ways:

1, today’s Gospel reading;

2, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary;

3, the Collects and Post-Communion prayer of the day.

Today is ‘Thomas Sunday in the Orthodox Church … a fresco in Saint John’s Monastery, Tolleshunt Knights (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

John 17: 6-19 (NRSVA):

[Jesus said:] 6 ‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8 for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.’

Liverpool Cathedral … the Triangle of Hope is a covenantal community linking the dioceses of Kumasi, Ghana, Virginia, USA, and Liverpool (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Today’s Prayers (Sunday 12 May 2024):

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 ‘Triangle of Hope.’ This theme is introduced today with a programme update:

The Triangle of Hope is a covenantal community across three continents: Africa, North America and Europe. It brings together Anglicans dedicated to transforming the legacy and ongoing presence of slavery and racism in God’s world through repentance, reconciliation and mission.

The Triangle refers specifically to a partnership between three dioceses: Kumasi (Ghana), Virginia (USA) and Liverpool (England). Each diocese was directly involved in the transatlantic trade of enslaved Africans. Together we remember and acknowledge with sorrow that human beings, each created in the likeness of the Lord God, were captured into slavery for financial gain with no regard for their dignity, identity and humanity. We view this history and its legacy with great pain and penitence before God, the God who wills in Christ to bring freedom and justice for all.

One of the projects of the Triangle of Hope is Tsedaqah House in the precincts of Liverpool Cathedral. This is home to young adults from around the Triangle and other places where the legacy of slavery, racism and discrimination is also felt. Residents pray and worship together and serve in a variety of settings around the diocese, promoting understanding, awareness and the common good. They are supported by five trustees, a chaplain and four mentors.

Members of the community have written and chosen the prayers this week.

The USPG Prayer Diary today (12 May 2024, Easter VII, International Mothers’ Day) invites us to pray:

Circle us, O loving Father, with your hope that we may do justice;
Circle us, O Christ our Saviour, with your hope that we may love mercy;
Circle us, O Holy Spirit, with your hope that we may walk humbly with you. Amen.

The Collect:

O God the King of glory,
you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ
with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven:
we beseech you, leave us not comfortless,
but send your Holy Spirit to strengthen us
and exalt us to the place where our Saviour Christ is gone before,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post Communion Prayer:

Eternal God, giver of love and power,
your Son Jesus Christ has sent us into all the world
to preach the gospel of his kingdom:
confirm us in this mission,
and help us to live the good news we proclaim;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Additional Collect:

Risen, ascended Lord,
as we rejoice at your triumph,
fill your Church on earth with power and compassion,
that all who are estranged by sin
may find forgiveness and know your peace,
to the glory of God the Father.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Members of the community of Tsedaqah House at Liverpool Cathedral have written and chosen the prayers in the USPG prayer diary this week … the cathedral seen from the waterfront (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