Rural mission and ministry
Around 38% of the area of the Diocese of Ely is rural (villages and hamlets). The rural church faces opportunities and challenges, some of which are similar to those in other context, but many of which are particular to rural areas. Deprivation and isolation are often hidden, access to transport, infrastructure and services can be challenging, and the changing nature of the countryside and the rural economy can create tensions between established communities and incomers. Church congregations are often quite small, but often represent a much larger proportion of the population than in towns and cities. Multi-church groups are the norm, which results in clergy ministering across several communities, and the need for a high level of local lay involvement in churches.
Rural Mission and Ministry Group
The Rural Mission and Ministry Group meets 2 - 3 times a year. It is chaired by the Archdeacon of Huntingdon and Wisbech. It has been drawn together to resource and support mission and ministry in this changing and varied rural context in the diocese of Ely. A key part of that brief is to tell the stories of the worshipping communities of the villages. We believe that there is both faithfulness and creativity to celebrate, as well as good practice and ideas to share.
There are a number of excellent sources of ideas and resources for the rural church, and part of the Rural Mission and Ministry Group's brief is to raise awareness of these. Providers of resources include:
- The Arthur Rank Centre - home of the National Rural Officer for the Church of England
- Rural Ministries
- Open Farm Sunday
The following links are to rural-related papers, research and reports:
- Released for Mission: growing the rural church (General Synod report 2015)
- How-to guide: working with multiple PCCs (St Alban's Diocese)
- Shaping strategies for mission and growth in rural multi-church groups: a summary of key findings and implications of recent research (Archbishops' Council 2017)
- A network of worshipping communities: a model for a multi-parish team with a vision for a blended economy of church (paper by the Revd Alison Myers, Team Rector of the Lordsbridge Team)
- Not directly rural-related, but with implications for rural churches is Setting God's People Free: a report from the Archbishop's Council (2017, GS 2056)