When trawling the net today I was distressed to find apiece on the imminent name change of the USPG. On reading I was intrigued by the lines that state ‘No doubt this name worked well in its day, but words like “propagation” are simply out-dated in the twenty-first century. So it was time for a change’. The rationale for the change goes like this:
“Our new name, Us, is directly derived from USPG, so it speaks to our heritage, but it also speaks about inclusivity. There is no “them”; we are all “us”. Our work – in partnership with the churches of the Anglican Communion – is for the benefit of the whole community, regardless of ethnicity, culture, gender, sexuality, age or faith. No-one is excluded…more’”
Well it seems that this early part of the 21st C is all about change, but perhaps a little history is needed.
The Revd Dr Thomas Bray founded the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG) in 1701. Dr Bray’s aim was to send priests to American to provide English colonists with access to the worship of the Church of England. SPG missionaries also sent school teachers and took the gospel to slaves and native Americans. From USPG website,
It then seems to me that at its very root the society existed to promote/propagate the Gospel specifically. So the removal from its name of such a key concept cannot be just a name change. It seems to me to be symptomatic of the modern christian church that is too scared to declare anything as unique and true about the gospel of Jesus Christ. All of “Mission and Vissi9n” processes seem to have robbed us of the very clear mission in the New Testament ” Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inthe name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Mtt 28:19-20.
As we in FCA Southern Africa seek God’s guidance on the planting of new churches and how to train leaders for that very commission of Mtt 28, it seems so sad to me that other mission societies are dropping that imperative to spread the Gospel. As one reads about the new name “Us” – United Society, one cannot help noticing that Us is very self centered – again we dare not have something that is good and precious to us that we might want to’ share’ for fear of appearing superior, paternalistic or even colonialist.
As we see more and more trusted mission societies being gently converted into societies of the UN Millennium Development Goals, please remember to pray that the church of Jesus Christ will always still find enough labourers for the harvest we are called to bring into the Lords House.