Tuesday, 6 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)

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