Sunday, 08 February 2015 21:23

Church debates rural mission plan

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Church debates rural mission plan

AN URGENT review is needed so church people have more time for mission in rural communities, says a report.

The study, Released for Mission, Growing the Rural Church, is being debated by the Church of England General Synod this month.

Recommendations include locally accessible training and development for lay people and clergy working in multi-church groups.

It also recommends an urgent review to examine how to simplify legal governance structures of multi-church groups.

Multi-church groups would benefit from improving administrative tasks, financial accounting, and building and churchyard management on behalf of the whole group, the report says.

The study, from the General Synod's rural affairs group, drew on interviews with 47 clergy and lay people from 35 rural church groupings in six dioceses.

The research project was led by the Church of England's national rural officer, Canon Dr Jill Hopkinson.

Nearly two-thirds or 65%, of Church of England churches - 10,199 - are in rural areas and almost all work in groups.

Dr Hopkinson said: "Released for Mission highlights the enormous amount of high quality work being carried out by rural churches."

This included fresh expressions of Church, seekers courses, children's activities, much needed facilities for local communities and support for those who are isolated.

More ecumenical partnership should be encouraged, opening up the possibility of new initiatives that might not be possible for a single denomination, the report adds.

Mission and growth are more likely to flourish in rural multi-church groups where time and space is created for this, the report notes, and where the ministry of lay people is supported.

Dr Hopkinson said mission and growth were more likely to flourish in rural multi-church groups where time and space was enabled for it to take place and where the lay ministry was enabled and equipped.

"This research is a starting point, it is not a simple solution to all the problems of rural ministry.

"Further work urgently needs to be done to continue to identify and share existing good practice in all areas of the life of rural churches and to ensure that the recommendations made in Released for Mission are implemented quickly."

The rural affairs group was looking forward to working with the Arthur Rank Centre, the churches' centre for rural mission and ministry, and ecumenical partners to achieve its aims, said Dr Hopkinson.

Bishop of Knaresborough James Bell, who chairs the General Synod's rural affairs group, described the recommendations as "practical and achievable."

Writing in the foreword of the report, he added: "A Christian presence in every community is more than a strap-line - it is the heart of English Anglicanism.

"It is the expression of our obligation, as the church for all the people of the nation, to leave no community untouched by the gospel of Jesus Christ, lived out among the people of every place.

"Ministry and mission in the rural church is highly demanding of energy and imagination. Growth is being realised but much needs to be done."

The full report can be downloaded here.

  • No comments found

Leave your comments

0 / 500 Character restriction
Your text should be in between 10-500 characters
terms and condition.