The Churches Rural Group are pleased to announce the appointment of Rev Claire Maxim and Rev Simon Mattholie who will serve as the co-chairs, replacing the former chair Rev Richard Kirlew.
Claire is an Anglican priest and the Chief Executive of The Arthur Rank Centre – an ecumenical national charity which resources, trains, and advocates for rural Christians, rural churches and the communities they serve. Simon is a Baptist Minister and the Chief Executive of Rural Ministries, who provide support, guidance and renewed energy for churches and pioneers working in rural communities across the UK.
The Churches Rural Group is a Coordinating Group within Churches Together in England, and provides ecumenical space for Churches with presence in rural areas, and related Christian agencies, to:
- reflect theologically and practically on the life and mission of UK rural churches;
- to offer mutual support to one another;
- and where appropriate to present or speak to the member Churches and Bodies in Association of CTE key issues affecting rural churches and the context in which they serve.
Simon explained that by co-chairing, he and Claire are hoping to set an example of the importance of working together across denominations within the rural context. “Our focus is to inspire greater ecumenism, encourage the recognition and release of the laity into ministries, and embrace the monastic rhythms such as prayer, biblical reflection and mission across the countryside.”
“We are hopeful for the future” adds Claire, “and see enormous potential in the rural church. A renewed focus on ecumenism coupled with prayer, reflection and hospitality will help rural Christians to be more confident and effective in mission and ministry.”
Outgoing chair Richard spoke of his delight that the role would be shared; “Claire and Simon’s willingness to work collaboratively demonstrates a real heart for mission beyond our denominational boundaries, and will help breathe life into the Churches Rural Group at this important time in the life of our country.” Richard is standing down as Chair after two years in post to enable him to concentrate on other roles in the rural church, particularly the Agricultural Chaplains Association, of which he is Chair.