Summary of CRG meeting Nov 2014
Representatives of Christian denominations with a significant rural presence meet together with other groups and organisations concerned with rural life and ministry to discuss issues of common interest on behalf of Churches Together in England. Main points from the last meeting, held at the end of November 2014, include:
‘Germinate’ – The conference had attracted around 280 delegates who enjoyed the key note addresses, case studies and a wide range of workshops. Bishop Mark Rylands suggested that it had the potential to develop into a movement rather than an event, to help rural churches to be better equipped to bring transformation to their communities. Full reports and a number of presentations from the conference can be found on the Arthur Rank Centre website, www.arthurrankcentre.org.uk
IRCA (International Rural Churches Association – www.irca.net.nz)We also heard about the recent international conference held in Malawi. Jerry Marshall gave a keynote address and presentations at the conference, and was elected as Chair of IRCA for the next four years. Reports and pictures are on the IRCA website.
Mission of rural churches and changing patterns in ministry. More detailed research has been undertaken by Rev Dr Fiona Tweedie into the impact of amalgamations and team ministries on church growth in the Church of England. The full report ‘Stronger as one’ can be found on http://www.churchgrowthresearch.org.uk/stronger_as_one_
Farming issues. The spread of bovine TB continues to be a pressing problem for farmers, and some theological reflection on the relationship between people, farm animals and wildlife could help to provide a basis for better understanding of conflicting points of view. An interesting paper on farming and climate change was circulated and can be obtained from the Agriculture and Theology Project www.agriculture-theology.org.uk
‘Germinate Groups’ were launched at the October conference. This is an opportunity for those in multi-church ministry, to take some time out to think, pray and plan. Four to six leaders (lay and ordained) from each church group will meet with other groups every six months for two years, to receive creative and interactive training, and work together to develop church strategy and mission.
The Arthur Rank Centre has developed the material with LEAD Academy and CPAS, taking a specifically rural and ecumenical approach to these ‘learning communities’. A pilot will be running in 2015; email firstname.lastname@example.org to be kept up to date.
And finally: We were pleased to meet and welcome Elizabeth Clark, who is the new National Rural Officer for the Methodist and United Reformed Churches, and we look forward to working with her.
Present: Barry Osborne (Chair; Smaller Free Churches Group / REN), Robert Barlow (RTA), Elizabeth Clark (ARC / Methodist / URC) Jim Currin (CTE), , Harry Doyle (RC North), Les Hann,(URC / Methodist Church), Jill Hopkinson (ARC / C of E), Christopher Jones (ACF/FCN / ATP), Jerry Marshall (ARC), Ann Wright (C of E/ IRCA Europe).