Parishes in Ilminster Deanery are giving thanks for the energy, positivity and connections created by a week-long programme of free events to bring together individuals, groups and communities who make up the life of Ilminster and Chard.
Farm tours, careers sessions, school visits, a Songs of Praise that raised the roof, a Labyrinth walk, farmers and business breakfasts, rural rambles, pub lunches and ‘Meet the Bishop’ were just some of the events facilitated by local churches from 14-20 May. The week culminated with a picnic and Pentecost Service at Forde Abbey.
The idea for the week was born from a round-table event in March entitled, “What matters? Who cares?” which gathered people from the local business, education, charity, care and farming sectors, along with civic leaders and parish representatives. The aim was to highlight social challenges facing the community and how the different groups might be able to learn from and about each other and work together to address them.
Delia Pearmund, Church Warden at All Saints Isle Brewers one of the lead organisers says, “The attendance and energy at the event in March really showed us what an opportunity there was to connect up all these different groups and made us realise how much we might be able to achieve together. If through are what we are doing this week those groups can make good connections and good relationships, it will be so wonderful for our community.”
Bishop Ruth Worsley has been in the area all week to support the organisers and and take part in the programme, she says, “This has been such a wonderful experience. There is already such a strong community feel here. By joining the dots and make space for different groups to learn about each other and have conversations about what is important in this community, our churches are really supporting and strengthening that.
“This is how we grow together to become healing, loving and caring communities of worth. This is what it means to live and tell our story. It’s a shared story about what matters in our communities. And because we all care about what happens where we live, we’ll work together to find new ways of being and doing that bring hope and joy.”
Revd Nigel Done, Rural Dean of Ilminster Deanery adds, “We are showing that we care about what matters to local people. The church is uniquely place to connect all these different groups together. A particular focus is connecting our schools with businesses and industry on their doorstep. We have good employers here offering good, stable jobs but they are not being looked at seriously. If the businesses can’t get the workforce locally they will move away. When people find good employment locally they stay put and put back into and care for their own communities. It makes sense economically and theologically – it’s the Kingdom of God we are building.”