Photo Credit: Leah Gordon / USPG
[ACNS] One of the oldest Anglican mission agencies has returned to its historic name USPG. The 315-year-old charity, which was briefly called United Society (Us) has responded to calls from its supporters to reclaim its former name, which it re-launched this weekend at the Greenbelt Christian arts festival in Northampton, England.
In 2012, the agency changed its name from USPG, meaning United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, to United Society. Now, USPG is back, but this time with an important difference: the new full-version of its name is United Society Partners in the Gospel.
Rachel Parry, USPG’s director for global relations, explained: “We have listened to our supporters and our partners around the world and recognised that there is a lot of love for the original USPG name. In particular, while the gospel has always been at the heart of our work, there was a desire to see that word back into our name.
“At the same time, we wanted to acknowledge how mission has changed through the centuries, and so we’ve employed the term ‘Partners in the Gospel’ to recognise our shared way of working with the world church.”
The new name went down well with visitors to the USPG marquee at Greenbelt.
Mike, from Shropshire, said: “I welcome the return to USPG. I grew up knowing about USPG and its radical world-affirming stance. It’s good to have USPG back.”
Liz, from Oxford, said: “I love the new name. Partners is much more appropriate than propagation.”
James, a volunteer helping in the USPG marquee, said: “I’ve had a lot of positive comments from people saying they are so glad that USPG is back. They like the phrase ‘partners’ – and they like that we’ve kept the pink colour of the brand!”
The focus on USPG’s presentation at Greenbelt was its work with the Anglican Church in Athens to support refugees in Greece.
Visitors to the USPG marquee were invited to journey through an exhibition that told the story of a refugee family that fled war in Syria in search of a safe haven in Europe.
The exhibition gave a voice to refugees in the camps who told USPG about their plight. One said: “We’re here to escape the bombs, not because we want to live in tents on foreign lands. Please don’t forget we’re not ignorant – we’re educated and cultured. My dream is that the war in Syria ends and we can all return to our homes.”
Mark, from Norwich, commented: “It really hit home. It felt like a window on their world. It’s difficult to know how to respond. But hopefully a seed is planted that will grow – perhaps something different for each person.”
Bridget, from Norfolk, said: “I think it’s such a terrible tragedy. This is on our doorstep and I feel very challenged about what my church can do. We are Christians and we are called to do something.”
The agency also has a new website to support its new branding: uspg.org.uk.