Friday, June 18, 2010

Bishops criticise USPG cuts

From The Church Times-

A DECISION by the Anglican mission society the USPG to end its funding to Latin America and the Caribbean has been criticised by bishops in the region.

The cut is part of a restructuring to cover a projected £1.2-million deficit precipitated by the economic downturn. The USPG has partners in more than 50 countries.

The changes were discussed at the charity’s annual conference in Swan wick last weekend, attended by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, and the Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Thabo Makgoba.

The society plans to concentrate on projects in Africa and Asia, in particular capacity-building pro­grammes, theological education, church growth, and healthcare, its general secretary, the Rt Revd Michael Doe, said on Tuesday.

When the changes were first mooted in March, the Primate of Brazil, the Most Revd Mauricio Andrade, and ten other Brazilian bishops wrote to the society’s trustees to express “surprise and disappointment”.

They had not been consulted, they said, and it was “unjustifiable” to “completely eliminate an entire con tinent from your sphere of mission”. This demonstrated a “lack of con cern for Latin America and the Carib bean within the Anglican Communion”, and smacked of “colonial favouritism”. The cuts would force them to “abandon” projects. They called for period of transition.

The Bishop of Peru, the Rt Revd Bill Godfrey, described the decision to “cut off this whole part of the world as extraordinary and regret table”. He said that he had “been on USPG’s books for 25 years”. While he acknowledged that the USPG had to balance its books, he said: “I find it hard to believe the only answer is to withdraw funding. There have always been good times and more difficult times financially, but we pass through them.”

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