Monday, 27 August 2012

A Useful Read for Rural Christians

Bishop James and I attended a national conference called Faith and the Future of The Countryside in 2010. It was the subject of my very first ever blog post back in November of that year (when, as I recall, the countryside was under a thick blanket of snow and the farmers were struggling to get out to feed their livestock.) Alan Smith and Jill Hopkinson have now published material that came from that very significant conference and their book is an excellent resource for churches, providing theological reflection and practical pastoral insight for everyone who is concerned about rural life and the place of Christian communities. It tackles more than just churchy issues. There are chapters about

England's Rural Economies
Land and Human Well-Being
How Should We Eat? The Principles and Practice of Just Food
A Theological Perspective on Sustainability
Planning and Housing; Power and Values in Rural Communities
Older People in the Country
Rural Mental Health and Well-Being
The Metaphor of Trees, Woods and Forests as Symbols of Creation
A Rural Perspective on Christian Formation and the Big Society
The Contribution of Church Tourism to the Rural Economy
The Spread of the Gospel Through the Occasional Offices in a Small Rural Village

12 really engaging chapters (perhaps one a week as a focus for preaching or for reflection at prayer groups?) I am still in the middle of it and finding that the themes of the chapters chime in very much with my everyday ministry. Alan Smith is Bishop of St Albans and co-author with Peter Shaw of The Reflective Leader. Julie Hopkinson is the National Rural Officer for the Church of England and has attended training events for rural and multi parish benefices in our Diocese recently. She co-edited Re-Shaping Rural Ministry. The book is published by Canterbury Press, 2012.

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