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.