- Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts
- one of the oldest Protestant missionary agencies, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG) was founded in England in 1701 in response to the report of Thomas Bray (1656-1739) on the religious situation in the American colonies. Bray had been in America for four years (1696-1700) as commissary for Maryland. He was concerned about the unmet educational needs of Church of England ministers serving in the colonies and the impact on their congregations. After returning to England, he convinced his colleagues to form a new society to focus upon the religious needs of English settlers overseas (primarily North America and the Caribbean), and the conversion to Christianity of the native populations there.Bray obtained a royal charter and won the patronage of Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Tenison (1636-1715), who lent Lambeth Palace in London for the society's first meeting. As it developed, SPG became identified with high-church elements, while the Church Missionary Society, founded a century later, was more representative of low-church evangelical Anglicans.in its first century, the society focused on North America and the Caribbean. Among its first commissioned staff was a teacher for African-American children in New York City. In the 19th century, its work followed the far-flung movement of British entrepreneurs and soldiers in the ever-expanding network of colonies. Fortuitously, during the American Revolution most SPG personnel returned from North America, and the society found itself with the funds for a more diversified presence in additional parts of the world. Work was extended to India in 1818, soon followed by Africa, the Middle East, Malaysia, Japan, and Korea.In the mid-20th century, SPG began to transform its work as former missions became independent Anglican jurisdictions within the Anglican Communion. The changes cost SPG significant popular support at home, and its income dropped. In 1965 and 1968, it merged with two other organizations, the Universities' Mission in Central Africa and the Cambridge Mission to Delhi, creating in the process the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. As the new century began, the United Society supports personnel in more than 20 countries and works with more than 50 Anglican church bodies worldwide.The United Society is headquartered in London, England.See also Anglicanism.Further reading:■ United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. Available online. URL: http:// HYPERLINK "http://www.uspg.org.uk"www.uspg.org.uk. Accessed on June 15, 2003■ Charles Frederick Pascoe, Two Hundred Years of the S.P.G.: An Historical Account of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, 1701-1900 (London: Society's Office, 1901)■ Henry Paget Thompson, Into All Lands: The History of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, 1701-1950 (London: SPCK, 1951).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.