Growing in God in the Countryside
We believe that bringing wholeness of life, and enabling rural communities to flourish, is God’s calling for the church in the Suffolk countryside. In this way we aim to be a means of God’s grace and a sign of God’s presence. LoveRural will be the banner for forthcoming exciting work in this area to be launched in the autumn of 2019.
The church has always been an integral part of the life in our villages and market towns. Today, the percentage of villagers who are part of the church still being far higher than it is in urban parishes, and attendance at services at Christmas, Harvest, Remembrance and other special occasions being high and in many cases increasing. Nevertheless, with small and sometimes declining Sunday congregations, we believe that our presence in many of these communities is something to be built on
This project aims to better enable us to develop new forms of worship, witness and service, making a difference for those who may have little or no contact with the church, and strengthening our existing congregations.
“In one of the most rural dioceses in the country we are responding to God’s call to be present in every community, so that more people can live in the light of God’s love as we work to combat hidden needs of particularly of isolation and deprivation across our county. That means developing different approaches to Christian witness, mission and service, and strengthening what we already do. I am thrilled that we can try new things, learn from what doesn’t work as well as what does, and so deepen our living and sharing of the Gospel in villages and towns across Suffolk.” said Bishop Martin.
This approach is adaptive to changes in the social and spiritual landscape and includes listening to people, being experimental and taking risks for mission, trying things out so we learn what works. On this journey, we will learn answers to questions like "how can more young families find faith?" or "how can we rebuild communities and enable people who have become isolated to be cherished?” There are some downloads available on this page advising on different aspects of rural ministry and we anticipate that these will be updated and added to over time.
“Rural mission sounds complicated but really it is about simple Christian practices - listening, love and prayer. Prayer is one of the things that should go without saying for any Christian - the trouble is that it does tend to “go” without saying. And so I want to talk about prayer and pray often with others so that the work flows from listening to God and to people. There are a thousand wonderful possibilities - the challenge is to do the things in God’s heart.” says The Revd Canon Sally Gaze, Archdeacon for Rural Mission.
If you look at the “In Our Community” page you will find some of the great initiatives which are already happening in our Rural Communities such as the Rural Coffee Caravan and Foodbanks.
In addition, Archdeacon Sally is currently involved in creating a growing network community of dozens of small groups all over Suffolk called Lightwave dedicated to sharing the love of God in their villages. Each group aims to do one activity together to make a difference locally or among people they know and receives support and training in their outreach. To find out more please visit www.light-wave.org | weblink or contact: Archdeacon Sally Gaze on firstname.lastname@example.org.