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The USPG or United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel is a 300 year old Anglican missionary organization, formed originally as the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG) in 1701. It became USPG in 1965 when the SPG merged with Universities' Mission to Central Africa (UMCA).

Working within the Anglican Communion, USPG's work involves pastoral care, social action and supporting training programmes. It also encourages parishes in Britain and Ireland to participate in mission through fundraising and prayer and by setting up links with its projects around the world. Currently its main focus of work is setting up and providing support for projects in various dioceses around the communion. USPG particularly supports hospitals and care centres for those suffering with HIV and AIDS.

Contents

History

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Early history

Seal of the Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts

Around the start of the 18th century, Henry Compton, Bishop of London (1675–1713), requested Rev. Dr. Thomas Bray to report on the state of the Church of England in the American Colonies. Dr. Bray reported that the Anglican Church in America had "little spiritual vitality" and was "in a poor organizational condition". On June 16, 1701, King William III issued a charter establishing the SPG as "an organisation able to send priests and schoolteachers to America to help provide the Church's ministry to the colonists". The society’s first missionaries started work in North America in 1702 and in the West Indies in 1703. Its charter soon expanded to include "evangelisation of slaves and Native Americans." By 1710, SPG officials stated that "conversion of heathens and infidels ought to be prosecuted preferably to all others." By the time of the American Revolution, the SPG had employed about 300 missionaries in North America and soon expanded to Australia, New Zealand and West Africa. The SPG was also important in the establishment of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America.

Slavery

The SPG was a slave owner in Barbados in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, with several hundred slaves on the Codrington Plantation. The Plantation was bequeathed to the Society in 1710 by Christopher Codrington and was run by managers on behalf of the Church of England, represented by the Archbishop of Canterbury and a committee of bishops. It relied on a steady new stream of slaves from West Africa as, by 1740, thirty years after the Church took over, four out of every 10 slaves bought by the plantation died within three years. This contrasted with some Southern US plantations where the death rate was lower, suggesting a deliberate "work to death" policy was in operation, as was commonly the case in the West Indies and South America.[1]

On the question of whether the Plantation operated a "work to death" policy, Adam Hochschild makes the point (Bury the Chains, p63) ...”in 1746 one third of Africans died within three years of arrival in West Indies, from the ordeal of the middle passage, and the shock of adjusting to the new life, foods, and diseases.”

There is no evidence that on the Codrington plantation harsh treatment of slaves by its managers was the cause of the high death rate.

Adam Hochschild goes on to say, “At Codrington, as throughout the Caribbean, new slaves from Africa were first “seasoned” for three years, receiving extra food and light work assignments. Slaves were vulnerable during this early traumatic period when they were most likely to die of disease, to run away... or to commit suicide. If you survived those three years, you were regarded as ready for the hardest labour.”

And Hochschild provides further clarification about the policies of the SPG's managers, saying that by 1826, “As a result of changes, the Church of England’s Codrington plantation, for example, had improved food, housing, clothing, and working conditions, and built a small hospital for sick and pregnant slaves.”

It was the situation in the West Indies and at the SPG’s Codrington Estates in particular, which prompted Dr Beilby Porteus, Bishop of Chester and later Bishop of London, to use the opportunity of preaching the 1783 Anniversary sermon of the SPG at St Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside, London to issue a call to the Church of England to cease its involvement in the slave trade and to formulate a workable policy to draw attention to and improve the conditions of the Afro-Caribbean slaves in Barbados. Biblical justification for slavery was commonly deployed against criticism of slaveholding policies and the Church relinquished its slaveholdings only when it was forced to after the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833.[2]

Over two hundred years later, during the February 2006 meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England, bishops voted unanimously to apologise to the descendants of slaves for the church’s involvement in the slave trade. Rev. Simon Bessant confirmed, in a speech before the vote, that the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts had owned the Codrington Plantation in Barbados, where slaves had the word "Society" branded on their chests with a red-hot iron.[3]

Milton Meltzer explains that the branding practice throughout the sugar plantations was that “Already branded once by the trader, the slaves were branded a second time with their new owner's initials." He quotes as an example that "The slaves of the Royal African Company were branded with initials D.Y., for the Duke of York". On branding at Codrington, Hochschild says, (p61) “For nearly a decade, Codrington officials tried to reduce escapes by branding all slaves on their chests. In the end, though, the chief deterrent was the lash, plus, at times, an iron collar and a straitjacket.” Branding, ever the policy of only one overseer and not continuous official policy of the managers, ceased within a decade of the Church taking on ownership of the Plantation.

When the emancipation of slaves took place in 1833, compensation under the Emancipation Act was later paid, not to the slaves, but to their owners. The Church of England's Codrington Plantation received £8,823. 8s. 9d in compensation for 411 slaves[4],a sum equal to almost £1 million in today's value. According to the accounts of Codrington College,which had been set up (by the Church under the instruction of the will by which the Plantation was bequeathed to the Church) to provide education for slaves, the compensation funds were paid into the treasury of the College.

Expansion and merger

In 1820, the SPG sent missionaries to India and in 1821 to South Africa. It later expanded outside the British Empire to China in 1863 and Japan 1873. By then the society's focus was more on the care for indigenous people than for colonists. In 1866, the SPG established the Ladies’ Association for Promoting the Education of Females in India and other Heathen Countries in Connection with the Missions of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. In 1895, this group was updated to the Women’s Mission Association for the Promotion of Female Education in the Missions of the SPG, which allowed British and Irish women themselves to become missionaries. During this period the SPG also supported increasing numbers of indigenous missionaries of both sexes, as well as medical missionary work.

The SPG continued the missionary work for the Churches of England, Wales and Ireland until 1965. That year, the SPG merged with the Universities' Mission to Central Africa (UMCA) to form the USPG). In 1968, the Cambridge Mission to Delhi (CMD) also joined the USPG.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ [1]Daily Telegraph story about descendant of Codrington slaves
  2. ^ [2] Haynes, Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery (OUP).
  3. ^ BBC News story on the SPG Codrington slave plantation
  4. ^ Bennett, J Harry, Jr. Bondsmen and Bishops - Slavery and Apprenticeship on the Codrington Plantations of Barbados, 1710-1838 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1958), p. 131.

References

  • Bennett, J Harry, Jr. Bondsmen and Bishops - Slavery and Apprenticeship on the Codrington Plantations of Barbados, 1710-1838 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1958)
  • Haynes, Stephen R. Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery (Oxford: University Press, 2002)
  • Hochschild, Adam. Bury the Chains, The British Struggle to Abolish Slavery (Macmillan, 2005)
  • Meltzer, Milton. Slavery: A World History (Da Capo Press,1993)
  • A collection of SPG-related missionary narratives

External links


File:Canterbury cathedral.jpg Anglicanism portal

USPG (The United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel), formed with the original name of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG) in 1701, is an Anglican missionary organization. Its aims are to enable people to grow spiritually, to thrive physically and to have a voice in an unjust world. This is done alongside churches and communities around the world, providing the resources – people, money and ideas – that they define as necessary to meet local needs. Working within the Anglican Communion, USPG's work involves pastoral care, social action and supporting training programmes. It also encourages parishes in Britain and Ireland to participate in mission through fundraising and prayer, and by setting up links with its projects around the world. Currently its main focus of work is setting up and providing support for projects in various dioceses around the communion. USPG particularly supports hospitals and care centres for those suffering with HIV and Aids, also building projects and assisting those who are marginalised.

It became USPG in 1965 when SPG merged with Universities' Mission to Central Africa (UMCA) to form the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (USPG).

Contents

History of USPG

USPG has a checkered, yet interesting history spanning three hundred years. Around the start of the 18th century, Henry Compton, Bishop of London (1675–1713), requested Rev. Dr. Thomas Bray to report on the state of the Church of England in the American Colonies. Dr. Bray reported that the Anglican Church in America had "little spiritual vitality" and was "in a poor organizational condition". On June 16, 1701 King William III issued a charter establishing the SPG as "an organisation able to send priests and schoolteachers to America to help provide the Church's ministry to the colonists". The society’s first missionaries started work in North America in 1702, and in the West Indies in 1703. Its charter soon expanded to include "evangelisation of slaves and Native Americans." By 1710 SPG officials stated that "conversion of heathens and infidels ought to be prosecuted preferably to all others." By the time of the American Revolution, the SPG had employed about 300 missionaries in North America and soon expanded to Australia, New Zealand and West Africa. The SPG was also important in the establishment of the Episcopal Church.

In 1820 the SPG sent missionaries to India, and in 1821 to South Africa. It later expanded outside the British Empire, to China in 1863 and Japan 1873. By then the society's focus was more on the care for indigenous people than for colonists. In 1866 the SPG established the:

"Ladies’ Association for Promoting the Education of Females in India and other Heathen Countries in Connection with the Missions of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel."

In 1895 this group was updated to the:

"Women’s Mission Association for the Promotion of Female Education in the Missions of the SPG,"

which allowed British and Irish women themselves to become missionaries. During this period the SPG also supported increasing numbers of indigenous missionaries of both sexes, as well as medical missionary work. The SPG continued the missionary work for Churches of England, Wales, and Ireland until its merger in with the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa in 1965.

In 1965, the then SPG merged with Universities' Mission to Central Africa (UMCA) to form the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (USPG). In 1968 the Cambridge Mission to Delhi (CMD) also joined the USPG.

SPG in Australia

Extract from Kuchel family history (1838–1970) Hahndorf, South Australia:

"Kirchenbergen comprised three sections of land totalling about 240 acres [1 km²] out of 400 acres [1.6 km²] of Crown lands in a special survey that was purchased by the Incorporated Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts on 15 May, 1841. It cannot be ascertained under what tenure the Kuchels held Kirchenbergen originally, but in 1863 the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel granted them a lease (in which they were described as "farmers") for a period of 20 years.
The rent was fixed at 89 pounds a year for the first seven years and 89 pounds a year for the remainder of the term, so they allowed for inflation in those days. Among the conditions of the lease were:
- to cultivate and to plant on the said land during the first seven years 4.5 acres [18,000 m²] of vines,
- to repair, uphold, amend and keep in repair the erections, buildings and fences upon the said premises, and
- not to let, underlet or assign over or otherwise part with any portion of the said premises without the consent in writing of the said Society."

Slave owning by the SPG

The SPG was a slave owner in Barbados in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, with several hundred slaves on the Codrington Plantation. The Plantation was bequeathed to the Society in 1710 by Christopher Codrington and was run by managers on behalf of the Church of England, represented by the Archbishop of Canterbury and a committee of bishops. It relied on a steady new stream of slaves from West Africa as, by 1740, thirty years after the Church took over, four out of every 10 slaves bought by the plantation died within three years. This contrasted with some Southern US plantations where the death rate was lower, suggesting a deliberate "work to death" policy was in operation, as was commonly the case in the West Indies and South America.[1]

On the question of whether the Plantation operated a "work to death" policy, Adam Hochschild makes the point (Bury the Chains, p63) ...”in 1746 one third of Africans died within three years of arrival in West Indies, from the ordeal of the middle passage, and the shock of adjusting to the new life, foods, and diseases.”

There is no evidence that on the Codrington plantation harsh treatment of slaves by its managers was the cause of the high death rate.

Adam Hochschild goes on to say, “At Codrington, as throughout the Caribbean, new slaves from Africa were first “seasoned” for three years, receiving extra food and light work assignments. Slaves were vulnerable during this early traumatic period when they were most likely to die of disease, to run away... or to commit suicide. If you survived those three years, you were regarded as ready for the hardest labour.”

And Hochschild provides further clarification about the policies of the SPG's managers, saying that by 1826, “As a result of changes, the Church of England’s Codrington plantation, for example, had improved food, housing, clothing, and working conditions, and built a small hospital for sick and pregnant slaves.”

It was the situation in the West Indies and at the SPG’s Codrington Estates in particular, which prompted Dr Beilby Porteus, Bishop of Chester and later Bishop of London, to use the opportunity of preaching the 1783 Anniversary sermon of the SPG at St Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside, London to issue a call to the Church of England to cease its involvement in the slave trade and to formulate a workable policy to draw attention to and improve the conditions of the Afro-Caribbean slaves in Barbados. Biblical justification for slavery was commonly deployed against criticism of slaveholding policies and the Church only relinquished its slaveholdings when it was forced to after the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833.[2]

Over two hundred years later, during the February 2006 meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England, bishops voted unanimously to apologise to the descendants of slaves for the church’s involvement in the slave trade. Rev. Simon Bessant confirmed, in a speech before the vote, that the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts had owned the Codrington Plantation in Barbados, where slaves had the word "Society" branded on their chests with a red-hot iron.[3]

Milton Meltzer explains that the branding practice throughout the sugar plantations was that “Already branded once by the trader, the slaves were branded a second time with their new owner's initials." He quotes as an example that "The slaves of the Royal African Company were branded with initials D.Y., for the Duke of York". On branding at Codrington, Hochschild says, (p61) “For nearly a decade, Codrington officials tried to reduce escapes by branding all slaves on their chests. In the end, though, the chief deterrent was the lash, plus, at times, an iron collar and a straitjacket.” Branding, only ever the policy of one overseer and not continuous official policy of the managers, ceased within a decade of the Church taking on ownership of the Plantation.

When the emancipation of slaves took place in 1833, compensation under the Emancipation Act was later paid, not to the slaves, but to their owners. The Church of England's Codrington Plantation received £8,823. 8s. 9d in compensation for 411 slaves[4],a sum equal to almost £1 million in today's value. According to the accounts of Codrington College,which had been set up (by the Church under the instruction of the will by which the Plantation was bequeathed to the Church) to provide education for slaves, the compensation funds were paid into the treasury of the College.

Notes

  1. [1]Daily Telegraph story about descendant of Codrington slaves
  2. [2] Haynes, Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery (OUP).
  3. BBC News story on the SPG Codrington slave plantation
  4. Bennett, J Harry, Jr. Bondsmen and Bishops - Slavery and Apprenticeship on the Codrington Plantations of Barbados, 1710-1838 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1958), p. 131.

References

  • Bennett, J Harry, Jr. Bondsmen and Bishops - Slavery and Apprenticeship on the Codrington Plantations of Barbados, 1710-1838 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1958)
  • Haynes, Stephen R. Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery (Oxford: University Press, 2002)
  • Hochschild, Adam. Bury the Chains, The British Struggle to Abolish Slavery (Macmillan, 2005)
  • Meltzer, Milton. Slavery: A World History (Da Capo Press,1993)
  • A collection of SPG-related missionary narratives

See also

  • Protestant missionary societies in China during the 19th Century

External links


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