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The Show must go on

by Michael Ford last modified 03 Sep, 2019 04:32 PM

The Rural Hope tent has been out and about at this summer's Agricultural Shows.

But their first attempt to highlight the work of Rural Hope and showcase their new Prayer Space Kits at the Gillingham and Shaftsbury Agricultural Show was a bit of a wash out.

Alice Farnhill, the Rural Field Officer for Sherborne, who was part of the Rural Hope Show team along with Revd Rhona Floate, the RFO for Wiltshire, explained:

"We ended up moving from our pitch what was moveable into the church tent about 1/3 of the way through, which worked better overall, generating some good conversations and using some of the prayer space material with children."

"Afterwards I had two long runs of damp bunting stretched through the house slowly drying off."

But undeterred, the Team and the tent were back for the West Dorset Melplash Show.

Rural Hope Programme Manager Sarah Keen said:

"Rural Hope was delighted to have its own pitch at this year's Melplash Show and we are very grateful to a generous member of the Bridport team for funding the tent itself.

"A crack team, ably managed by Revd Fiona Beale, the Beaminster team curate, helped erect the tent at the first light of dawn ready for the Show opening at 8am."

Alice Farnhill, who had suggested a Rural Hope presence at the Show said:

"It is important for the Church to demonstrate that it's a core part of the local community. Melplash Show is where the rural community of West Dorset comes together every year on the Thursday before the August Bank Holiday so naturally Rural Hope needs to be there."

The tent provided a great opportunity for local ministers to meet and chat to their parishioners in an informal setting. These included the Revds Philip Ringer and Pete Stone from the Bridport team, Revd Chris Grasske from Eggardon and Colmers, and Revd Peter Clark the URC minister for the Bridport area.

It also provided an early outing for one of the new Prayer Space kits generously financed by the Aldhelm Mission Fund. These kits provide ready made ways to engage primary-aged children in Godly Play, and drew groups of kids into the tent throughout the day.

The Show must go on- Prayer Space Kit in action with Alice Farnhill
The Prayer Space Kit in action with Alice Farnhill

And as Alice explained there was also an unplanned addition to the Tent's entertainment:

"One of Revd Peter's friends also kindly brought his guitar along and serenaded us with Hillsongs to enhance the spiritual ambience of the tent."

"As Pete put it, 'Bridport is acting as a pilot for the Diocese's Community Hub concept, and what better way to engage with the community than through events like the Melplash Show?'"

Final stop for the Rural Hope Roadshow was the Great Dorset Steam Fair where the Dorset RFO, the Revd Richard Hancock, joined local clergy in the Church Tent.

If you would like to borrow a Kit for a church or school event, please contact your local Rural Field Officer or the Rural Hope Programme Manager ().

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