Presentation on theme: "SR-NET CONFERENCE 2014 6-8 October 2014 Angel Hotel, Cardiff “Mostly Hills & Sheep…?”..a Rural View Revd Richard Kirlew Bishop’s Officer for Rural Life."— Presentation transcript:
SR-NET CONFERENCE 2014 6-8 October 2014 Angel Hotel, Cardiff “Mostly Hills & Sheep…?”..a Rural View Revd Richard Kirlew Bishop’s Officer for Rural Life The Diocese of Swansea & Brecon & National Lead on Rural Affairs for The Church in Wales
“Pushing the Boundaries Back” & “Working Outside the Box” I spend a huge part of my working life doing both! What I do is not conventional church.
So who am I? Introduction to my roles within The Church in Wales
Welcome to my world of rurality! I, unlike Martin Luther King don’t just have a dream, ….I have a passion! A passion for a subject that goes back to my youth.
Wales has about: 3 million people & 9 million sheep
Rural Community – Is there really such an animal or is rural just little bits of town in the country? What comes to mind when we think of the term, “Rural” Does this mean “rural” to you?
How is all this shown in the media and on TV? What about Emmerdale, The Archers or Heartbeat? The ‘chocolate box cottage’ with roses round the front door Do you think that they are a fair representation of rural life?
So what’s wrong with Community today then? “The last man out, please put the lights out…!” Decline in rural area amenities such as schools, Post Offices, shops, pubs, doctors, etc. Decline in urban community psyche as well – 82% of people in bed-sit land in Southwark don’t know what their neighbour is called. Are we up for a re-build?
Rural & Deep Rural… Wales is classed as 82% Rural! 79% of that 82% is known as ‘Deep Rural’
OK, so what is Deep Rural? Deep Rural is defined as: communities located at least 30 minutes drive-time from a centre with a population of more than 10,000. communities comprising of less than 150 households. communities with fewer than five of the twelve ‘key’ services, defined as:
- Food only shop - Post Office - Petrol station - Bank or Building Society - General Practitioner - Dental surgery - Pharmacy - Educational establishment - Permanent library - Police station - Bus stop or railway station - Cash machine
So how can we build rural community? Before we can look at building community, we must understand what it is we are aiming to build? Are we building community, church or both? As a Rural Officer this is part of my role
A favourite expression of mine: Working Outside the Box!!
Village Life Promoting village life can create massive dilemmas:- Increase in transport (lack of peace) Increase in visitors – can they be the death of a village? The village no longer ‘belongs’ to its inhabitants
Village life…… Cannot now be described as just farming community Is now as Philip Richter describes it in his book, ‘God’s here and now’, “A community of communities”
Community life in general…… Living in a village can be rather like being in a goldfish bowl… Acceptance by a community is not the same as belonging to it!! A total stubbornness to embracing change can often happen
Community life in general (2) Rural life is now less parochial than it was because of lifestyle changes. This can have the effect of holding back any change in ministry or the way we run our churches. Small congregations and siege mentality often cause people to dig their heels in!!
Farming Comparisons: Family farming enterprise in Norfolk: 13,500 acres Produces 15 million lettuces – 60 million Carrots annually 25% of UK parsnip crop 3,000 acres cereals 1,700 ewes 960 staff (including staff from abroad) Supplies Tesco, Morrisons & Sainsbury That’s Big!!
Compare that to what I am used to in Mid-Wales: Farmer and maybe a Wife and/or Son 350 acres Grade lll agricultural land Has grazing on “common land” 200 ewes max. giving 1.4 lambing ratio Small cow/suckler herd (sells calves) B&B as diversification Usually has second or often a third job Now that’s struggling – big time!!
Farmers therefore: See themselves as more and more of an isolated group The village they thought they once knew has become populated with people who do not understand them (Incomers) As a result of the above, they feel ‘forced out’ of the church they and their relatives may have worshipped in for generations
Farmers don’t always realise that: They suffer from stress & depression Become introverted and separate from their community/family They are prone to suicide (highest group in UK)
Five major issues facing farmers today: TB Milk Prices Isolation can lead to mental health issues Poverty, not just financial Government Regulations/Restrictions (Broadband & Form Filling online)
Changing roles for the church As a result of the change in village and community life, churches need to adapt also Unlike a lot of urban churches, rural churches have an acknowledged part in rural communities Churches are being used more often now as community buildings for meetings, groups etc.
Changing roles for the clergy In the 1920’s there was almost one cleric per parish in the Anglican church in the UK! All aspects of church life was run by him (as it was then!) Highly dependent on the cleric within the parish setting
Now role has changed – some have many parishes (7) as well as other Diocesan roles Then they used to write books on steam engines and butterflies! Now Area Team Leaders (business managers!) with both lay and ordained to run groups of parishes
Towards final thoughts… According to Barry Osborne, author of, The Key To Effective Rural Evangelism, “Rural communities are a complex mixture of various people groups with ‘gatekeepers’ whose approval or disapproval of any endeavour might be significant” Remember, nothing spreads faster on the village grapevine than bad news!!
In a small community our lives speak louder than any words we may utter!! We should all use the following maxim: “Preach the Gospel - if necessary use words!” (St Francis of Assis)
So rural life might not be as rosy as perhaps you thought. Not all ‘Roses round the cottage door’, but still a place to minister and live out the Gospel
We listen to scripture… “It was Jesus who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, that that the body of Christ may be built up…”. (Ephesians 4: 11-13) We are there to build up the people of God in rural areas and in doing so, to be blessed richly!!
and finally…!! Any Questions or comments? Any agreements or disagreements?
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