Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Tea parties and ‘Call the Midwife’ are
part of USPG’s enthusiasm for mission

By the lake at Swanwick this morning (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Patrick Comerford

The USPG conference in Swanwick, Derbyshire, came to an end this afternoon with the Closing Eucharist celebrated by the Revd Karen Turner, a former volunteer with Journey with Us in Belize.

The Revd Dominque Turnham, a former volunteer with Journey with Us in Belize, was the deacon. Janette O’Neill, USPG General Secretary, illustrated her sermon with experiences of work with refugees on island of Lesbos in Greece and work with the Church in Pakistan.

Earlier in the morning, we heard about USPG’s work in a number of area, and the resources being prepared, including Refugees, Greenbelt, gender-based violence, World Aids Day, and resources for Advent, Christmas and Lent 2017. The Lent course next year is looking at the theme of “Discipleship and …”

Volunteer days are being organised in 10 regional hubs in autumn, and a major mission conference in London in Spring 2017 will hear voices from around the world.

This Harvest, USPG is focusing on the work of the Church of Ceylon among marginalised tea plantation communities.

USPG is supporting a church programme that is providing young children with an education and a healthy diet, giving them a good start in life.

Life on Sri Lanka’s tea plantations can be a very challenging. The work is hard. The families of tea pickers live in small houses. Healthcare and schooling is scarce.

But education provides a way forward. Children from these vulnerable communities are being enabled to gain qualifications, enter university and find jobs.

Through this process, communities are slowly being raised out of poverty and they are learning how to access their rights.

The resources being prepared include Harvest films, all-age worship materials, a children’s activity sheet, liturgical resources, PowerPoints and talks, and a fundraising poster.

Ideas for using this theme included afternoon tea, tea for two, “More Tea Vicar,” and even a “Madhatter’s Tea Party.”

Before this morning’s conference session closed, we were treated to a short Christmas drama based on two experiences in real life, and heard the news that an SPG missionary is to feature on the Christmas Day edition of Call the Midwife, when on Christmas Day, in which the coroner will be named Dr Edgar Ruddock.

Our final hymn at our closing Eucharist was How shall I sing that majesty? sung to Kenneth Naylor’s tune, Coe Fen:

How great a being, Lord, is thine,
which doth all beings keep!
Thy knowledge is the only line
to sound so vast a deep.
Thou art a sea without a shore,
a sun without a sphere;
thy time is now and evermore,
thy place is everywhere.

A walk by the Lake in Swanwick this morning (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

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