The oldest mission agency in the Church of Ireland, USPG, has been relaunched after 300 years and will now be known as USPG Ireland.
The organisation will have more autonomy to work with church partners and government agencies to help develop links between the Church of Ireland, both north and south, and the world church.
Working in partnership with Anglican and United churches in more than 50 countries, USPG seeks to enable people to grow spiritually, to thrive physically and to have a voice in an unjust world.
Welcoming the new initiative, The Most Rev Alan Harper, Archbishop of Armagh and All-Ireland Primate, said: “I am delighted to welcome the formation of USPG Ireland. USPG is the oldest of all the Anglican mission agencies and from its beginnings in 1701 the Church of Ireland has been associated with its life and work.
“Now, through USPG Ireland we are challenged to place a characteristically Irish stamp on the task of strengthening and supporting the work of fellow Anglicans across the globe. May the work go from strength to strength and may USPG lead by example.”
Archbishop Harper said that he and the Most Rev John Neill, Archbishop of Dublin, were delighted to be patrons of USPG Ireland.
Bishop Michael Mayes, a former USPG missionary in Japan, is Chairman of the new board.
He stated: “At a time when so many agencies are focused on development issues, or dedicated purely to evangelism, mission for USPG and its partners has a much broader understanding. USPG is living the gospel in over 50 countries, working with churches in sharing resources – people, money, ideas,” he said. “This is a huge vision that needs your support – in prayer and giving – to become reality.”
Linda Chambers, national coordinator for USPG Ireland, said: “I am so very grateful for the warm welcome I have received from parishes and individuals throughout the Church of Ireland. It is the support of all those parishioners and Select Vestries that has brought us here.
“However, while this might feel today like an achievement, it is in a fact a beginning, and I will continue to rely on your love, prayers and support as we go forward with USPG Ireland.”
The other members of the new board are: Rev Ken Gibson, CEO, The Leprosy Mission; Rev Patrick Comerford, Director of Spiritual Formation, Church of Ireland Theological College; Mr Jan de Bruijn, USPG Council Member; Rt Rev Michael Doe, General Secretary of USPG; Mrs Yoshimi Gregory, USPG Trustee; Mr Roger Hird, former USPG Trustee.