The deployment and training of rural ministers by Canon Jim Mynors
Rector of Aldwincle, Clopton, Pilton, Stoke Doyle, Thorpe Achurch, Titchmarsh and Wadenhoe formerly Rural Officer and staff member Cambridge Theological Federation
We greatly need a sustainable strategy for deploying the church’s resources of people gifted for rural ministry. Strategists have long been devising formulae to do this (e.g. scoring a point for every 1000 population plus a point for every parish in a benefice), But these often focus only on crude arithmetic measures. They did not even distinguish between a tiny parish with worship once a month or less and a large village with frequent worship and all kinds of midweek activities. And they tend to assume a style of ministry far too focussed on buildings which should in any case be cared for by laity.
So more nuanced models are needed to take account of spiritual health, inherited leadership styles, the character of the local community and the availability of other part-time ministerial colleagues.
And Biblical material is important. My fuller paper looks at ‘Pauline Perspectives’ to help us in our context. Yet dysfunctional communities can change. Decaying buildings can be repaired and re-ordered. And theologically –informed approaches to rural ministry can make a considerable difference. So we need as much concern to equip rural ministers as about how to deploy them. The fragility of Theological Colleges’ rural programmes is most unfortunate.
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