The thesis aims to assess the influence of the concept ofPartnership in Mission in key
policy statements of the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (USPG) in
relation to its mission training College of the Ascension, Selly Oak, Birmingham
between 1965 and 1996. It will be demonstrated that the concept ofPartnership in
Mission owes its origins to the theology ofMissio Dei, which understands that mission
belongs to God and that the church's role is to participate in God's mission in the world.
Partnership in Mission occurs when churches share resources for mission in mutual and
interdependent relationships. The concept challenges the traditional practice of Western
missionary agencies of transferring resources in a one-way direction from the West to
the rest of the world. Learning to share together in God's mission across geographical,
cultural and theological boundaries is fundamental to the application of Partnership.
The thesis examines the extent to which Partnership in Mission influenced decisions of
the USPG in relation to the College of the Ascension.
Each chapter of the thesis examines a key decision taken by USPG concerning the
College of the Ascension between 1965 and 1996. The seven chapters are based on the
following decisions: to re-open the College in 1965; to receive students from across the
Anglican Communion in 1969; to review missionary selection and training policy in
1974; to inaugurate a College Advisory Group in 1978; to initiate a Bursaries
Programme in 1982; to extend the college facilities in 1989; and to form a United
College with the Methodist Church in 1996. Each chapter examines the minutes of
USPG committees which outline the decision, and the background reports which
illuminate the process taken to formulate the committee resolution.
The methods of inquiry adopted in the thesis are informed by the work of Michel
Foucault. By applying Foucault's understanding of the relationship between knowledge
and power to the analysis of selected texts, the research seeks to elucidate the
"conceptual terrain" upon which a variety of concepts may be seen to interact in the
formation ofpolicy. To examine the interplay between the concepts, the texts are read
contextually. This is in the immediate contexts of the College of the Ascension, the
USPG and the Selly Oak Colleges; and the wider context of conferences which explore
and develop the principles ofPartnership in Mission, especially those arranged within
the ecumenical movement and the Anglican Communion. On the basis of this analysis,
the thesis argues that the USPG was committed to the principle ofPartnership in
Mission, but was erratic in applying Partnership principles in practice. It is argued that
this arises in part because of the nature of USPG's relationship to the Church of
England as a voluntary missionary society. It is anticipated that this analysis will assist
towards identifying the obstacles which prevent the concept of Partnership in Mission's
full implementation by those institutions concerned with sharing resources for mission.