Adapted from ACNS

The Christmas special of BBC’s Call the Midwife will feature the work of the Anglican mission agency USPG. The show follows the fortunes of the midwives and nuns at Nonnatus House, in East London, in 1961. In the Christmas special, the Rev. Tom Hereward and a number of the Sisters and midwives are sent by SPG, as USPG was known in the 1960s, to help a struggling clinic in South Africa.

Today’s USPG played a significant role in helping the BBC research the episode, including input from the Rev. Canon Edgar Ruddock, who was a missionary in South Africa in the 1980s.

“I had a lengthy phone conversation with the key researcher, who tapped into my knowledge of the 1980s, when many church-founded hospitals were still operating across rural southern Africa,” Ruddock said. “I was also able to point them to various older colleagues who had worked there as doctors or nurses during the 1960s.”

“Mission has changed a lot since the 1960s,” said Rachel Parry, global relations director for USPG. “We used to think of mission as something that ‘we over here’ did for ‘them over there’ — but now we understand that mission is ‘from everywhere to everywhere.’ There is no one part of the church that has the monopoly on Christian understanding. Instead, we are all learning from each other.

“Another change is that USPG no longer sends missionaries in the old-fashioned sense. However, we do still support and encourage the movement of people in mission. The difference is that the movement of people today is, again, ‘from everywhere to everywhere.’ In recent years, USPG has supported a Cuban doctor to work in Uruguay and a Ghanaian priest to work in The Gambia.

“Mission today is about a global network of Christians who all have needs and skills, something they need to learn and something they have to share.”

USPG has published a range of resources to highlight the work it is doing today to support midwifery.

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