Slavery

Slavery

USPG, United Society Partners in the Gospel, is a union between the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG) founded in 1701 by Thomas Bray and the Universities Mission to Central Africa (UMCA), founded in 1857. The union of the two mission societies took place in 1965

In 1710, SPG received a bequest from Sir Christopher Codrington of two plantations in Barbados. Between 1710 and 1836 the Society benefitted from the labour of enslaved persons on the Codrington Estate. It is an utterly disgraceful history for which USPG apologises unreservedly. USPG is committed to engaging critically with this shameful history and the many legacies of enslavement.

This history opens up important debates around what reparation might mean. In the 15 years following emancipation in 1834, S.P.G. made grants totalling £85,000 and launched a fund that raised a further £80,000 (together equivalent to more than £17 million today). This was spent in the Caribbean, much of it on educational infrastructure. Today, USPG is committed to exploring how it might best support the work of the Church of the Province of the West Indies (CPWI). USPG supports the CARICOM Reparations Commission agenda.

However, there are dangers of reducing reparation to issues of finance as if slave ownership were a debt that could be “settled” by any financial transaction. The legacies of the transatlantic slave trade and our colonial history are deep and pervasive, as the Windrush scandal and Black Lives Matter campaign have made clear. USPG is engaging in a process of understanding its own culpability as a colonial actor better through an intentional exploration of its archives, in dialogue with the CPWI.

UMCA was founded in 1857 to undertake mission in Central Africa, and to actively oppose the slave trade. It went on to make a major contribution to tackling leprosy.

Today USPG works in mutual partnership with the churches of the Anglican Communion supporting their mission priorities. These are wide-ranging and include addressing the challenges of injustice such as gender-based violence, human trafficking, and human rights abuses.