18 May 2022

USPG announces programme for
2022 conference in High Leigh

The High Leigh Conference Centre in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire … the venue for the USPG Conference (25-27 July), ‘Living Stones, Living Hope’ (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

During the seasons of Lent this year, in my daily reflections in my prayer diary each morning, I have been drawing on the psalms and on the Prayer Diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel).

USPG has announced this week that USPG’s annual conference is to resume this year, between 25 and 27 July.

The announcement from USPG in recent days hopes that ‘as we gather again to celebrate and be inspired by the amazing mission activities of partner churches around the [Anglican] Communion’ , this can be an opportunity to ‘discover USPG’s unique contribution.’

The theme of this year’s conference is ‘Living Stones, Living Hope.’ Once again, the conference is taking place at the High Leigh Conference Centre outside Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire this year.

‘Living Stones, Living Hope’ was the theme of USPG’s five-session Lenten Study course this year, exploring contextual theology.

I introduced the fourth study, ‘Celtic Spirituality,’ drawing on my experience at the time as Priest-in-Charge of the Rathkeale Group of Parishes, and Director for Education and Training in the Diocese of Limerick and Killaloe.

I also contributed ‘Reflections on Celtic Spirituality’ as part of an international webinar organised by USPG as Study 4 in the Lent 2022 programme, Living Stones Living Hope, 24 March 2022, and spoke at the webinar from my hospital bed in Milton Keynes where I was being treated for a stroke.

This year’s conference begins in High Leigh at 3 p.m. on Monday 25 July 2022, and continues until 3 p.m. on Wednesday 27 July 2022.

The speakers at this year’s conference include:

• The Right Rt Revd Reuben Mark, Deputy Moderator of the Church of South India
• The Revd Suchitra Behera, Deacon in the Diocese of Barisal, Church of Bangladesh, and an international development practitioner
• Ms Basetsana Makena, Provincial Youth Representative, Anglican Church of Southern Africa
• Clifton Nedd, Caribbean Facilitator for the Anglican Alliance

The USPG conference takes place immediately before this year’s Lambeth Conference, which takes place at the University of Kent, Canterbury Cathedral and Lambeth Palace from 26 July to 8 August.

I had planned to be in High Leigh to take part in last year’s USPG conference (19-21 July 2021), with the theme ‘Such a Time as This.’ But the Covid-19 pandemic meant the conference became a virtual event. My six-year term as a trustee of USPG concluded at a virtual meeting (20 July 2021) of the trustees of USPG during that conference.

The Hayes Conference Centre in Swanwick, Derbyshire, was the planned venue for the USPG’s conference in 2020 until Covid-19 forced its cancellation too. So it is 2019 since I was at a USPG conference, when High Leigh was also the venue.

I have taken part in many USPG conferences in High Leigh in the past (2009, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019), sometimes leading workshops, taking part in council and trustee meetings, and I presided at the Eucharist at the end of the 2012 conference. At those conferences I have also formed lasting friendships. I was also the chaplain in 2006 at a joint conference in High Leigh of the Friends of the Church in China and the China Desk of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI), when I led daily worship and celebrated the Sunday Eucharist.

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