Resourcing small and rural churches
Based on How Village Churches Thrive, an inspiring, practical guide from Bishop Robert Atwell and others, this programme of events offers small and rural churches guidance and support on the issues that matter most.
From the chance to contemplate with colleagues on leadership to exploring how we can flourish in rural roles and expanding on practical ideas posited in the handbook, there's something for everyone.
Free copies of How Village Churches Thrive are available to parishes attending the Rural CMD Day or the Rural Lecture, ahead of six read-along sessions. Read on to get your free copy...
How Village Churches Thrive
A Diocese of Oxford rural read-along: Various dates from Wednesday 19 October, 8pm, Zoom
Read along to How Village Churches Thrive: A Practical Guide, and join monthly discussions with colleagues across the diocese. Each session, we're joined by an expert in the field to give advice and support on the relevant chapter topic. You can register at any time - it doesn't matter if you've missed some sessions!
You are invited to attend as many sessions as you are able, and the Zoom details are the same each time. Sessions take place across a variety of evenings so there will be something available to everyone.
8 December, 8pm - Being the heartbeat of the community, with Andrew Cowell
9 January, 8pm - Welcoming more children, with Yvonne Morris
7 February, 8pm - Using buildings creatively & Caring for God’s acre, with Sophie Hammond, Hannah Robertson & Alison Riggs
8 March, 8pm - Pastoral care, with Gill Thompson
19 October, 8pm - Extending a warm welcome, with Katie Tupling & Polly Falconer
16 November, 8pm - Making the most of life events, with Mary Harwood
- Don't stop expecting people to be new - if you build it, they will come!
- Sometimes we say everyone's welcome, but our building says something different. Whether it's good access to the toilet, installing wheelchair ramps or much bigger work, Disability Advisor Katie Tupling can help.
- Different cultures feel welcomed differently - but everyone will value a proper introduction. Give newcomers your name and ask for theirs, before introducing them to someone on their pew.
- Consider the imagery around your church - can you make it more diverse? People will feel more comfortable if they see people like them up front, on the noticeboards, in artwork etc. The UKME Chapter are available as free guest preachers.
- Welcome starts outside the church - can you go out into your community and meet people there? Can you put out useful items for eg cyclists or walkers?
- Extend your welcome to children and families - can they run around and make noise? How would you deal with a member of the congregation upset by the noise? Don't make women breastfeed in the toilet - let them know where they're welcome.
- The work is never 'done'. Everybody is a welcomer, and it's an ongoing journey.
- Little things can have a big impact. Putting out a welcome sign and making sure opening hours are clearly signposted is a great starting point. An up-to-date noticeboard gives a good first impression.
How Village Churches Thrive
A hugely collaborative effort, How Village Churches Thrive draws on a wealth of expert information to present practical inspiration for all who work and worship in village churches. Packed with real-life examples, the handbook addresses ten core themes at the heart of church life.
Download a taster and register for the Rural CMD Day or the Rural Lecture to get a free copy for your parish.
Canon Dr John Rees, the former registrar for the Diocese of Oxford, shares his thoughts on the book.
Leadership in Rural Multi-Parish Benefices
Rural CMD Day: 27 Sept 10am-3.30pm, St Mary’s Convent, Wantage
The Revds Margot Hodson and Talisker Macleod explore how leadership can be exercised in rural context in a Continuing Ministerial Development day centred on rural church issues - a great opportunity for all clergy, particularly curates, along with local lay support, ministering in rural contexts.
Flourishing mission & ministry in today’s rural context
A rural lecture: 27 Sept 7.30pm, Zoom
The Rt Revd Dagmar Winter, Bishop of Huntingdon and national Lead Bishop for Rural Affairs, considers how we can flourish in mission and ministry in our rural contexts today.
Introduced by the Rt Revd Gavin Collins, this inaugural lecture includes an open time for questions.
Wellbeing in rural communities
Rural forum: Tuesday 11 October 10-11.30am, Zoom
The pandemic has highlighted the number of people who feel isolated. The cost-of-living crisis is not only affecting people financially but also creating anxiety. This session looks at ways of engaging with wellbeing in rural communities, with an opportunity to reflect with colleagues on how the issues raised affect your context.
The Rural Forums are a regular event - details of the next forum will be on the rural church webpage shortly.