Rural Life and Living – Challenges and Opportunities

Ripon Cathedral hosts the St Wilfrid Lectures each year and this year the series is entitled “Rural Life and Living – Challenges and Opportunities”

26th February Rt Revd John Inge: The Rural Church in Place
23rd April Prof Nigel Curry: For they know not what they do: reflections on a lifetime of rural policy
11th June Does the Panel think…? The Very Revd John Dobson, Dean of Ripon, chairs a panel discussion
17th September Revd Canon Jeremy Martineau, OBE: Applying Industrial Mission Theology in a remote rural context: lessons from the Celtic fringe
15th October Poul Christensen, CBE: Young Farmers’ Clubs – fighting back for Rural Communities

All lectures start at 7.30pm.

The first lecture “The Rural Church in Place” was given by John Inge, Bishop of Worcester on 26 Feb. He  has  written  a  book called “A Christian Theology of Place“.

Judith Allinson attended this lecture and writes an account

My  idea  of “a sense of place” is..

“What rocks is the church built of?
What  flowers/lichens  grow  in  the  churchyard?.  (or in the cracks  in the pavement  if    there  is  no  churchyard)”.
“What  are  the buildings/houses/people/dialect  like  surrounding  the  church and are there green hills in the background or skyscrapers?”

Well   it   wasn’t   about  that..  But it was about many other topics including  about  people’s uprootedness because they keep moving; And that we ought to use our churches for many things.  I will list a few good quotes lower down. You can read the short official report here The financial cost of church upkeep is very great, and we need to find good ways to use the churches for the community. (I have also written a longer account here)

Some notes made during the talk:

Scriptures  take  place seriously. “In my father’s house there are many
mansions.. I am going to prepare a place for you”

Churches  stand  as  a  witness and can help those who are rootless to
find their place.

Someone  made  a  quote – we can look at a glass or we can see through it to the world beyond.   Similarly   we   can  look  at  churches or see through them to “heaven” beyond.

Churches  are expensive to keep – We get less money from the government than  any  other western country to look after our churches. There are 16,000  Anglican  Churches in Britain and 12,000 are listed buildings. 45%  of all listed buildings are places of worship. 925 million pounds are needed for their upkeep over the next 5 years.

Just as Christ’s commandments to people are: Love  God  and  Love  your  neighbour, so  this  should be applied to churches.  Many  churches  are  very  good  at  the first, and organise services,  and  make  the place pious, but not always very good at the second.

The  churches  should  see  how they could serve the community more. The bishop quoted  one  church that  has  a village shop, several that have food banks.  Stannington  near  Morpeth has an IT centre. There has been a suggestion that churches should supply WIFI. We should think more about adaptation than preservation.

In many villages the church is the only community facility.


“Should   we  be  thinking  of sharing churches?” Asked Chairman of the York and Hull Methodist District, Stephen Burgess.


When the Dean of Ripon, the Very Revd John Dobson, was introducing Bishop John at the beginning, he showed us the newly published “Growing God’s Kingdom – a First Response to the Cathedral Consultation






I liked the aspirations in the “Engaging with the issues and needs of the world.”section:

 Developing and implementing a strategy for social justice
 Reducing the impact our work has on God’s earth by reducing our carbon footprint.
 To be known as a Cathedral that can speak with integrity on rural issues

In the “Promoting our Spiritual and Built Heritage” section there is an aspiration:  Developing the Cathedral as a Centre for Pilgrimage.    I wonder if more interest could be given the wildlife around the Cathedral. As people have to come to the Cathedral from 60 miles, and more, away in the Diocese Area, getting to the cathedral is a pilgrimage in itself.  map.  Perhaps more could be made of the wonderful walk in Ripon all along the River Skell. Also  Hurray for the Pilgrimage on Boxing Day to Fountains Abbey

If you are near Ripon on 23 April 2015 do come to the next lecture:

Prof Nigel Curry: For they know not what they do: reflections on a lifetime of rural policy

The future lectures will include more about challenges of rural living.







Author: | Date: 22 March, 2015 | Category: News | Comments: 0

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