Rural church leaders should be 'brave' and 'radical' says The Archbishop of Canterbury
Press Release - 16 October 2014
Addressing the ‘Germinate!’ rural mission and ministry conference on 11th October The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, called on rural church leaders to be ‘brave’ and ‘radical’, particularly with reference to shared leadership.
The national conference, held in Coventry, was attended by more than 270 rural church leaders, both lay and ordained, from all the main denominations active in the countryside. The Archbishop especially emphasised the need for lay leadership:
“Reimagining ministry in the countryside involves coming back to the faithfulness of God in all his people, especially lay people. It means coming back to the God who pours out his gifts and his Holy Spirit on us and strengths and encourages us.”
“I really want you to be brave and radical in how you look at rural ministry, how you think about it, how you pray for it, what you hear the Spirit saying to the churches about the future of rural ministry.”
The Bishop of Shrewsbury, Rt Revd Mark Rylands, gave an inspiring key note address that was also realistic and challenging, giving practical examples of success. He concluded by saying, “I believe ‘Germinate!’ is more than a conference. It has the potential to be a movement; a movement for the renewal of God’s Mission in the countryside.”
Worship was led by Revd Ruth Gee, immediate Past President of the Methodist Conference. Case studies included a presentation on rural mission from Revd Elizabeth Clark, National Rural Officer for the Methodist Church and United Reformed Church; and another on multi-church mission in Glendale from former President of the Baptist Union, Revd Roy Searle.
The conference was a shared initiative led by the Arthur Rank Centre, and involving the main rural denominations, networks and agencies, including Fresh Expressions, New Wine, Messy Church and the Rural Theology Association.
Conference organiser and Arthur Rank Centre CEO Jerry Marshall said, “I am thrilled that we had such a good response and that so many organisations came together. After a series of case studies, and workshops, and a session sharing rural mission resources, delegates told us they left inspired, encouraged and equipped.”
Several “Germinate” initiatives are already being offered or are being developed for rural churches, including a leadership programme, learning communities and a rural business start-up initiative.
Conference presentations, transcripts and hand-outs are available here