Reflecting on the Rural Forum

More than 100 people came together for this year’s Rural Forum which took place on a lovely sunny day in the beautiful surroundings of Bagley Baptist Church.

The focus of the day was to support, resource and equip rural churches to listen and respond to the needs of their local, rural communities.

Bath and Wells Rural Affairs Adviser Rob Walrond says,

“I was delighted by the turnout. There were lots of questions asked and lively discussions taking place. People felt encouraged and motivated, they had a lot to take home with them.”

Attendees heard from guest speakers; Marion Carson the Project Manager for the Diocese of Exeter’s Growing the Rural Church Programme, (The programme supports rural churches across Devon to engage with their communities to explore opportunities for further missional, community, cultural and commercial use of their church buildings)  and Mark Betson the National Rural Officer for the Church of England whose role focuses on developing the Church’s support for the rural church and rural communities.

In the afternoon those who attended were invited to join workshops to explore and learn more about; Listening to our farming community (Anita Simmons and Suzie Wilkinson of Farming Community Network), Reimagining rural ministry: Developing a learning community to support mission across multiple parishes (Selina Garner), Releasing the gifts of people across the Deanery (Jane Chamberlain and Jonathan Philpott), Flourishing rural schools across the diocese, (Ed Greggory).

For the first time this year parish and benefice administrators took part in their own listening and responding session, which included specialist training on diocesan management systems.

Tracey Staples took part in the administrator sessions,

“It was a great opportunity for rural church administrators to get together and discuss with diocesan staff how we think we could work together going forward. We were given training and had a chance to talk about ways in which the diocesan teams could be of more help to us, which would enable us in turn to be of more help to them! We feel that building relationships with diocesan staff is important.”

“The next step is to plan some more training with the diocese specifically for administrators on topics that we have suggested. We hope to be able to do this in Archdeaconries. Rural church administrators often work alone so it would be great if we can support each other and share ideas via an email and the occasional coffee morning. Some of us are already in touch and if anyone else would like to join our email group please let me know.”

Thank you to all who attended.

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