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Investing in the Rural Church

by glynch — last modified 30 Jun, 2017 12:13 PM

£1.27M Supports Diocese as a Leader in Rural Church

Investing in the Rural Church

St Andrew's, Okeford Fitzpaine. Photo (C): Gerry Lynch.

The latest round of investment in the long term future by the national Church of England has a rural focus – and the Diocese is set to be among the beneficiaries.

The Strategic Development Fund, supported by the Archbishops’ Council, invests in projects which support major growth and change in the Church of England. Today, it announced that the Diocese of Salisbury is to receive a £1.27M grant over 4½ years for a programme called Renewing Hope through Rural Ministry and Mission. It is one of eight dioceses announced today to be receiving grants.

Bishop Nicholas said,  “I am delighted Salisbury has received such strong support. 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. 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 care. We are 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.’

Salisbury seeks to be a beacon diocese, developing best practice for rural ministry and mission which can be spread across the Church of England.

Renewing Hope through Rural Ministry and Mission includes the following strands:

  • Rural placements for young adults (18-30) considering whether they have a call to ordained ministry, to allow them to explore in a rural context God’s call to them.
  • A Rural Training Pathway for people training for ordained ministry, designed in conjunction with Sarum College, to train and equip them for the specific challenges of ministry in the countryside.
  • Placements for serving clergy in mid-career but without rural experience, allowing them to explore a change of context.
  • A four-year development programme for ordained and lay rural church leaders to lead their churches into growth.
  • Support for parishes in local mission and ministry through facilitation, seed-corn funding for mission projects, topic-based training and mentoring.

Director of Renewal and Reform for the Church of England, Mike Eastwood, said, “Renewal and Reform is about a growing church in and for all people and in and for all places. The hope that these projects gives for a positive future for mission and ministry at the local level is inspiring. The seeds of Renewal and Reform are now beginning to grow across the country as plans become reality.”

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