The Area Bishop of Ripon, Bishop James Bell, who is a spokesperson for the church on rural issues has urged delegates at a national conference for rural churches to be positive and “tell a new story “.
Bishop James was one of the main speakers at the national 'Germinate' conference held in Coventry last weekend. Speaking to the two hundred delegates from around the country, he said, “We need to tell a new story about rural ministry.
“My own experience is that many congregations are thriving and the bottom line is that a greater proportion of people in rural communities belong to, or have contact with, the church, certainly than in urban and suburban communities. So there’s a good foundation which means there are huge opportunities to present the gospel of Jesus Christ in imaginative and attractive ways.”
The Germinate Conference takes place every two years and is an opportunity for rural Christians to gather for support and inspiration from across the country. It is organised by Germinate: The Arthur Rank Centre, the national organisation for the rural church and brought together speakers and facilitators from across the Christian denominations, alongside representatives and resources from key para-church organisations, including Fresh Expressions, Messy Church and HOPE.
Designed to equip and encourage all those involved in rural ministry, the conference heard from a range of contributors, including key-note addresses from Revd Dr Roger Walton, 2016-17 President of the Methodist Conference, and Pete Atkins, Team Co-ordinator for Fresh Expressions.
Jerry Marshall, CEO of Germinate: The Arthur Rank Centre, who put the conference together, said, ‘There is no organisation on earth like the church when it's working well, and growing disciples is key to building the church in local rural communities.’
Germinate: The Arthur Rank Centre provides a wide range of resources for rural churches including Country Way magazine, Germinate Groups learning communities, Germinate Enterprise and the Germinate Leadership programme. A new website will launch in January 2017 which will offer access to a large, easy-to-use database of additional resources. Keep up to date with news and new developments via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.