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USPG defends name-change

20 July 2012

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."


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