A Country Parson for the 21st Century

by Gerry Lynch last modified 23 Nov, 2015 10:42 AM

Sarum College to offer specialised training in rural ministry

A Country Parson for the 21st Century

Photo credit: Elizabeth Perry.

Responding to the national call for specialised training for ministers working across the country’s 10,000-plus Anglican rural churches, Sarum College in Salisbury has proposed a new training pathway now under review by the Church of England Ministry Council.

The new pathway aims to train rural ministers for work in rural multi-parish benefices so that these faith communities realise their potential for mission and growth. It will be offered from September 2016, subject to approval by the national Church of England Ministry Division.

40% of Church of England worshippers are in churches in villages and hamlets.

“These are exciting and innovative times for all of us involved in ministerial formation and education as we attempt together to respond imaginatively to the context and culture within which ministry is exercised,” says The Revd Canon James Woodward, Principal of Sarum College. “This rural pathway will give Sarum College a unique opportunity to prepare and equip ordination candidates for work in different rural contexts.

“We are mindful of the rural nature of ministry to be found in many places in our Diocese and region and from which a significant number of our existing ordination candidates are drawn. Sarum College wishes to support mission and renewal in imaginative ministry in these contexts. We hope to be able to work with others in providing resource for all those who would seek to strengthen the witness of the Church.”

The proposed pathway has been welcomed by the Church of England’s National Rural Officer, Canon Dr Jill Hopkinson, who says, “Mission and ministry in rural communities is both challenging and rewarding, requiring skills and expertise in managing complexity, leadership and encouraging and developing the ministry of others. It is an urgent priority and a potentially fertile field but there is an absence of relevant contextual training and many Ordinands receive little, if any, training that equips and resources them for work in rural areas. This initiative from Sarum College will provide Ordinands with the experience, understanding and skills that are needed to focus on mission and growth, spirituality and discipleship and the training and education of others in rural multi-church groups.”

Calling attention to the important role this specialised training will have on the flourishing of faith throughout the country, Canon Woodward welcomes the contribution of knowledge and expertise in this area.

“I look forward to working with colleagues on the creation of this new pathway and welcome any feedback or questions for us to consider as we continue to work together to equip and enable a new generation of ministers through our ministry training programmes.”

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