Clergy and lay people from the Ripon area joined a gathering of folk from across the Northern dioceses (Blackburn, Carlisle, Durham, Leeds, York and Newcastle) for 36 hours of conversation and sharing at The Sill by Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland.
The ‘Small, Faithful, Rural’ conference was originally planned for 2020 and had been twice postponed due to the pandemic.
The Rt Revd Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, Bishop of Ripon, has written about the weekend, which can be read below.
Bishop Helen-Ann writes: “It was terrific that finally we could gather this year.
“We began with a Eucharist on the site of a 4th century church at Vindolanda, with Bishop Mark of Berwick presiding, and with John Bell from the Iona community as preacher.
“John Bell reflected how God is fascinated by the small, and encouraged us to share in God’s mission to care for creation, and one another and to be patient in our beings and doings.
“On the Saturday morning, I facilitated a session of conversation, and questions and answers with my episcopal colleagues the Bishops of Carlisle and Berwick, reflecting together what we were learning about being rural church in our ministry as bishops, and what our response to John Bell’s challenge to us might be: now that we’ve heard the Gospel proclaimed, what are we going to change?
“The 80 or so folk who had gathered for the conference then took part of various workshops about resourcing liturgy and mission in rural settings, before we finished with a closing worship at which I shared some reflections on our time together.
“It was a tremendously positive and uplifting time, and left me with an abiding confidence that the rural church is not a problem to be solved but is a wonderful gift to the whole Church, the Body of Christ.”