USPG to become United Society

USPG is changing its name to the United Society, or Us for short.

For centuries, the mission agency was called the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel until it merged with the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa in 1965 and became the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.

The decision to drop ‘Propagation’ and ‘Gospel’ has been made out of a concern that the 311-year-old name is too dated.

Canon Linda Ali, the outgoing chair of USPG’s Trustees, explained: “The original title given to us by our founder, the Rev 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“No doubt this name worked well in its day, but words like ‘propagation’ are simply outdated in the twenty-first century. So it was time for a change.”

She continued: “We're still about sowing seeds and nurturing faith and transformation in communities, but we want to speak in a language that resonates today.

“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. No-one is excluded.”

The mission agency’s new strapline – ‘Every person, every community, a full life’ – draws from Jesus’s prayer in John 10:10 that life will be experienced in all its fullness.

USPG Chief Executive Janette O’Neill said: “We are very excited about this new milestone in our history. It demonstrates our commitment to living out the Gospel and communicating this message with clarity.

“There are hundreds of international charities doing excellent work today, but we remain one of just a few agencies that are committed to supporting the churches of the worldwide Anglican Communion as they deliver transformational change.

“We hope our new name will help people relate better to the work we are doing today. We are opening a door and inviting everyone to join Us.”

The name change has been welcomed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who said the church was called to rediscover its inter-dependence and mutuality.

“This understanding of human dignity and mutuality in the gospel has always been at the heart of USPG's mission," he said.

“This inspirational historical identity will continue as the United Society renames itself as Us, with its focus on ‘every person, every community, a full life’. Indeed, the flourishing of each person is bound up in the flourishing of every other.”