THE chief executive of the Anglican mission agency USPG has
issued a strong response to claims that its recent name-change
means that it is embarrassed by the gospel.
The society announced last month that
it would become known as "Us" from November (News, 29
June), saying: "The original title given to us by our founder,
the Revd Thomas Bray, was the Society for the Propagation of the
Gospel in Foreign Parts, which was later abbreviated to SPG. No
doubt this name worked well in its day, but words like
'propagation' are simply out-dated in the 21st century."
But, in a General Synod debate this
week about manifesting Christian faith in public, the Vicar of All
Saints', Pitsford, with Boughton, near Northampton, the Revd
Stephen Trott, criticised the change: "USPG is now embarrassed by
the gospel, let alone its propagation."
In response to the criticism, USPG's
chief executive, Janette O'Neill, said that the theology of USPG
had not changed. "We are a Christian organisation, rooted in the
broad Anglican tradition. The name-change is part of a process of
reaching out to a new generation of supporters.
"Our name is 311 years old, and we
felt that adjusting the language would help us to resonate better
with people today. Words such as 'propagation' and 'gospel' are
widely misrepresented and misunderstood. Why put words in the way
of people's participation with Us?"
The process was "thorough, considered,
and prayerful", she said. "We have consulted widely. Obviously,
with a diversity of supporters and potential supporters, we realise
that it is impossible for each and every person to fully and
immediately embrace the changes. But we hope that, with time, the
new name will be warmly embraced.
"Alongside our new name and logo, our
new strapline, 'Every person, every community, a full life', shows
that we remain grounded in the gospel. The strapline is an explicit
reference to John 10.10. The gospel is in our bloodstream."