Rural churches constantly surprise with new life
The cynic may say – only if you know where to look – but actual and potential new life is present in many different ways in the rural church. It is not just the new but existing services, activities, events and encounters that give rise to a deeper faith and hope for the future. This edition of Country Way chronicles just a few of these and looks at opportunities for new activities and ideas.
The rural church is an exciting place to be. It is hard at times and can be a challenge (to say the least) with multiple buildings, congregations and communities, complex structures and small numbers in village and church. It can be hard to find volunteers for particular roles and be difficult to get enough people together to start new initiatives. But there is in many places
much to celebrate and many signs of encouragement and new life. As Dr Anne Richards says in Making Connections: “rural churches are good at mission.”
Good at mission because rural churches have great potential to share the gospel and make a difference to the lives of rural residents due to the links and contacts, friendships and relationships that are intricately woven between church and community. We need to get better at finding out how to use these networks in creative ways to share our faith with a wider group of people.
The inscription in St Paul’s Cathedral Resurgam means I will rise again. Perhaps you have seen it when you have visited. It has certainly inspired me to understand hope, particularly in the context of the rural church. Hope is not some naive optimism that things will
of the Countryside
Faith and the Future
Faith and the Future of the Countryside conference took place in November 2010. Marking the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Faith in the Countryside, the report of the Archbishops’ Commission on Rural Areas, 33 sets of recommendations were made for future work. A prioritised short list of five was agreed by the conference delegates. Work has already started to implement these five.
1) We call upon Government to enable affordable rural housing schemes to proceed where this need is established through a local housing needs survey and a community led plan formulated to an agreed national standard.
2) We call upon Government to remove barriers to churches accessing funding for community benefit.
3) We urge the Church to recognise and strengthen its contribution to sustainable communities and to use this as a basis for engaging with government and local communities in the Big Society agenda.
4) We urge the Government to ensure www. countryway. org. uk 3
that proposals about the future of the public forest estate safeguard the ecological, cultural, economic, recreational and spiritual benefits that are already in place.
5) Appreciating the distinctive nature, demands and stresses of rural mission and ministry, we recommend that:
• Those in training for public mission and ministry should have effective preparation for rural and multi church work. This should include the
preparation and equipping clergy moving to rural posts.
• Church Leaders should develop improved support to address the well being of the clergy and lay officers engaged in rural mission and ministry.
• the rural church continues to explore alternative, flexible and radical models of collaborative mission and ministry.
always work out fine. The resurrection is about rebuilding, a new start – a new life. Resurrection is both spiritual and practical: faith and hope. I will rise again.
Jill Hopkinson Editor
ministry workshop Multi-church Forward dates for 2011
15-16 June and 4-5 October Offa House, Warwickshire
or call 024 7685 3075 for more information and to book
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