Norfolk conference releases rural church hopes
Enabling Christians in rural congregations to reach their communities through mission and the re-imagining of their churches and chapels was the subject of a conference in West Norfolk. Rev Margaret McPhee reports.
I’m sure many of us have dreams of what we would like things to be like in our churches and the communities we live amongst. For many of us who live in rural Norfolk, these dreams can seem far off, if not impossible. We need hope and encouragement, just what this day conference gave, thanks to Dreams and Visions.
I was encouraged by the stories I heard from churches across Norfolk at the Releasing Hope day conference at Tittleshall near King’s Lynn on October 8.
Examples of where “the next step” was taken and dreams have become or are becoming a reality came from St Mary's at Newton Flotman, St Mary's at Tittleshall and Dickleburgh & the Pulhams Benefice. But we all need to start.
Listening with intent to God and to the people of our community really struck me. Rev Simon Mattholie explored this in the session on Missional Listening. The starting point is to listen, avoid “telling” people what they need. Jesus is our example of this throughout His ministry, listening with His ears and His eyes, joining in where the communities met and listening to their stories.
So we’re encouraged to notice what’s around our community, where people gather and giving time to people’s listen stories and to listen to God.
Germinating dreams needs persistence and prayer, and of course resources. All of this is built on prayer, and then the people and then finance. Germinate is an organisation to help rural churches and communities flourish. It provides resources and courses to support rural ministries. I’ve signed up to receive their thrice year Country Way magazine as a way to encourage me God cares and grows His church, even in the remotest parts of the country.
Dreams and Visions support projects across Norfolk through grants. There are other opportunities as well depending on the project but nothing is too small.
God cares for all and those of us privileged to live in rural communities are there because of His calling us to listen and to pray so enabling our ministry with those communities.
Revd Margaret McPhee is Rector of the Horsford Benefice.
Pictured above are delegates at the conference at St Mary the Virgin Church in Tittleshall.