23 January 2015
For immediate release
Implementing the recommendations in Released for
Mission: growing the rural church “absolutely essential” for continuing
mission in the countryside
The Arthur Rank Centre strongly supports the research report
Released for Mission published by the Church of England today. “It is
absolutely essential that the Church of England implements the recommendations
in Released for Mission,” said Arthur Rank Centre CEO Jerry Marshall.
“The next decade is a make or break time for continuing rural ministry.
Thankfully some rural dioceses are already moving in the right direction.”
The report points to the importance of the rural church
(two-thirds of parishes) and to many areas of success, particularly around
fresh expressions and Messy Church. A statistical analysis indicates that there
is no clear link between growth and the number of parishes in a multi-church
group; but lay leadership and an intentional focus on mission are crucial.
Priorities identified by the report include:
a culture of discipleship
enabling and equipping the ministry of lay people
training for lay and clergy for the complexity of leading multiple
of governance and legal structures
creative ecumenical partnerships.
The report outlines findings
from a major research project led by Canon Dr Jill Hopkinson, the National
Rural Officer for the Church of England.
“Rural churches of all
denominations are not always aware that they can and do engage in mission,”
said Revd Elizabeth Clark, National Rural Officer for the Methodist Church and
the United Reformed Church.” This report highlights what is happening whilst at
the same time pointing out the challenges that exist, particularly for Anglican
Churches. Many Methodist and URC Churches face similar constraints. My hope is
that we will look for ways of tackling these obstacles together since ecumenism
is a mission imperative.”
The National Rural Officers are
based at the Arthur Rank Centre, the churches’ resource for rural mission and
ministry. “We provide training and resources in leadership and mission, for
both lay and ordained, across denominations,” said Jerry Marshall. “But much
more needs to be done. We especially urge national leadership structures to
find ways to reduce the burden of local governance and to support the creation of
staff posts that address administration, finance, and facilities management, to
release time and energy for mission. “
See www.germinate.net for a link to the report.