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Rural Ministry and Mission

by Gerry Lynch last modified 11 Aug, 2017 11:09 AM

'Renewing Hope through Rural Ministry and Mission' is our diocesan programme to continue investing in our rural church leaders and parishes.

£1.27m of Strategic Development Funding was awarded by the National Church in June 2017. For more details about the programme, click here.

Renewing Hope through Rural Ministry and Mission

On an average Sunday 40% of those worshipping in the Church of England do so in a rural setting.

Rural church has a different dynamic to suburban and urban contexts. For centuries, small groups of regular worshippers keep the heartbeat of prayer and worship alive for the whole community. It is communal religion.

In this Diocese, 90% of our parishes, representing half the population, are rural. We believe that the health of the Church, urban and rural alike lies in healthy parishes.

The needs of large rural multi-parish benefices need particular skills: there are the complexities and challenges of leading multiple communities; isolation, long distances, finances and geographical barriers. Small congregations may not have sufficient numbers of people to do all the necessary jobs. Yet clergy in the countryside have always had an incarnational ministry and continue to be an important focus in their communities.

We want to continue investing in identifying, nurturing and training rural church leaders who, working with local congregations, will take hold of mission opportunities and move into church growth – in numbers, depth and impact.

Building on the commitment and enthusiasm for the principles underpinning the diocesan vision Renewing Hope: Pray, Serve Grow and through prayer, careful discernment and listening to those engaged in local ministry we have developed Renewing Hope through Rural Ministry and Mission. It is designed to identify, enthuse and equip rural leaders of the future and resources those who now minister in rural contexts.

The four main strands:

  • Rural Ministry Experience Scheme for young adults (18-30) exploring God's call to ordained ministry in a rural setting.
  • A Rural Training Pathway to train and equip people for the specific challenges of ordained ministry in the countryside. The Pathway has been designed in conjunction with Sarum College.
  • Rural Placements to give serving clergy experience of rural ministry
  • A four-year development programme to support ordained and lay rural church leaders as they lead their churches into growth, through facilitation, seed-corn funding for mission projects, topic-based training and mentoring.

Bishop's endorsement:

When the funding for Renewing Hope in Rural Ministry and Mission was announced, Bishop Nicholas said, “I am delighted that Salisbury is developing as a centre of excellence in which rural ministry and mission is developed and encouraged with imagination and flair.”

“An earlier Bishop of Salisbury, Neville Lovett (1936 to 1946), wrote a pamphlet entitled Village Life and Village Fellowship, which he ended by saying ‘So, in these ancient and beautiful buildings [village churches]…the people rejoice together in the House of God for the privilege of co-operating with Him in what makes life worth living and work worth doing.’

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