Archbishops, Bishops, colleagues, trustees and friends of USPG gathered together today, 21st March 2019, for a service of Holy Communion with a blessing and a dedication of USPG’s new chapel and offices, located just off Borough High Street at 5, Trinity Street, London.
We were blessed that the the Revd Dr Michael Clarke from Codrington (Barbados), Esther Kazilimani-Pale from Lebombo (Mozambique) and Archbishop Dr Maimbo (Tanzania) were still with us, having attended our Rethinking Mission Conference at the weekend – Revd Dr Michael Clarke was one of our keynote speakers and at our service today he blessed the lectern and encourage USPG to be a prophetic voice in the world.
Other visitors and distinguished guests and supporters sharing in our celebration included Bishop Donald Jute and his wife Julita from Kuching, Malaysia and the General Secretary of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon and his wife Comfort; the Director of the Anglican Alliance, Revd Rachel Carnegie; the Mission Director at the Anglican Communion, Canon John Kafwanka, Fr Salvador Telen IFI Chaplain, Archbishop Emeritus Dr Winston Halapua of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia and his wife Revd Susan Halapua, the Bishop of Kingston, Richard Cheetham and a former General Secretary of USPG, Michael Doe.
The Most Revd Maimbo Mndolwa, Archbishop of Tanzania and Bishop of Tanga led the service and preached a wonderful sermon reflecting on the history of mission. He also referred to USPG’s Black Christ Masasi cross and the importance of contextualising Christ in culture. Many of our other international partners participated in the service which had a truly global flavour. We sang a selection of hymns from South Africa, Brazil, Tanzania and Argentina and the appropriate – ‘Let us build a house where love can dwell’ as well as Patrick Appleford’s ‘Father all loving who rulest in majesty’. (Patrick was a former Education Secretary of SPG/USPG and it was his memorial service today).
The old testament passage, read in Tagalog by Father Salvador Telen, was Joshua 4 v1-9 about Joshua summoning 12 men to take twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan , one for each of the tribes of Israel to the other side as an act of remembrance . After the service chapel guests were encouraged to take a symbolic stone with them to remember the day.
The cutting of an appropriately USPG pink ribbon by Archbishop Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion was followed by a celebratory buffet lunch at which we were all entertained by the talented poet, writer and director Justina Kehinde, who performed her own stunning poems ‘Grandmother’s Hands’ and ‘To the child of my youth’ which you can watch here. Justina recently interviewed our General Secretary Duncan Dormor, for our new ‘Open to Encounter’ booklet.
Duncan said “It is now thirty-two years since we left the last building we owned in Tufton Street. Today, USPG begins a new chapter in its 318 year history as we begin to put down roots in this, our new home, appropriately enough on a street named for the community of love that is God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We hope this house of mission and place of prayer will become a place of dialogue and discussion, and of hospitality and welcome for our many friends and visitors from across the communion.”