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Rural Issues


The role of the Diocesan Rural and Environmental Project Officer, Revd. Chris Halliwell, is to help the diocese 'to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the earth' in line with the Anglican Consultative Council's Fifth Mark of Mission.

Many people in the diocese of Blackburn live in rural communities, some in quite remote villages. Rural life is different from that in the suburban and urban areas. The Blackburn Diocese Rural Focus Group meets on a regular basis. The group includes rural clergy and representatives of other ecumenical and community organisations.

Chair of Rural Focus Group and Assistant Rural Officer - Sally-Ann Rothwell

The shared aims of the Rural Officer and the Rural Focus Group are to:

  • Keep abreast of national, regional and local trends in rural areas
  • Be alert to and raise awareness of changes and challenges in farming and agricultural practices
  • Keep the Church informed of rural issues and concerns
  • Build bridges between the Church and rural organisations and communities
  • Assist clergy and lay people within the diocese to understand rural society as a distinctive context for ministry and contribute to the diocese's policy and decision making where it affects rural churches and people.

Issues for the rural church and rural community covered by the Rural Focus Group over recent years

  • Affordable housing
  • Ageing populations
  • Buildings (multi-functional use)
  • Changing nature of leadership
  • Changing society
  • Climate change
  • Community services - library, fire, Help Direct etc
  • Discipleship
  • Environmental issues
  • Farmers issues
  • Finance
  • Food issues (Fairtrade starts at home)
  • Genetic Modification of foodstuffs
  • Lack of volunteers
  • Larger groups of parishes
  • Lay training
  • Mission shaped church
  • Partnership working
  • Role of the deanery
  • Rural issues
  • Rural service provision
  • Small congregations
  • The needs of the elderly (isolation)
  • The Shape of Things to Come ( Burnley report on ministry )
  • Transition Movement
  • Working ecumenically
  • Youth issues

Rural Focus Group Meetings

Minutes of previous meetings can be found here: Rural Focus Group Minutes

External Links

There are excellent resources for those interested in rural and environmental issues at the following websites:

Arthur Rank Centre - A Christian Charity Serving Rural Churches and their Communities, including a wonderful array of worship resources  including the recenly launched "Germinate" scheme aimed at breathing new life into the countryside, a discipleship training toolkit and links to Fresh Expressions of church in rural contexts including messy church

Farming Help - brings together three national charities which work to benefit the farming community. Each charity provides different but complementary forms of help and support to meet a wide range of needs

Farm Community Network - provides pastoral and practical support to farming people during periods of anxiety, stress and problems relating to both the farm household and the farm business

RuSource - RuSource Briefings is a free rural information service for anyone working in the countryside or with rural people, and those supporting rural life

Rural Evangelism Network - brings together the most experienced rural evangelists, researchers writers and teachers on rural evangelism from across the Churches and mission agencies

Grant Finder is an on-line resource tool for investigating funding opportunities for any projects, including those with a specific rural focus

Some interesting food and farming facts can be accessed here.

Revd. Chris Halliwell, Diocesan Rural and Environmental Project Officer November 2015

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