"Tell a new story," Bishop of Ripon urges rural Christians
24 October 2016 by cofebirmingham

"Tell a new story," Bishop of Ripon urges rural Christians

On Saturday 15 October, two hundred Christians gathered together in Coventry to explore how best to support people to grow as disciples of Jesus in their rural churches and how to more effectively reach out into their local communities. The Germinate Conference took place at The Welcome Centre in Coventry and brought together speakers and facilitators from across the Christian denominations, alongside representatives and resources from key para-church organisations, including Fresh Expressions, Messy Church and HOPE.

Designed to equip and encourage all those involved in rural ministry, the conference heard from a range of contributors, including key-note addresses from Revd Dr Roger Walton, 2016-17 President of the Methodist Conference, and Pete Atkins, Team Co-ordinator for Fresh Expressions.

In his closing remarks the Rt. Revd. James Bell, Bishop of Ripon, reminded the conference of the responsibility and privilege of rural Christians to challenge negative preconceptions of rural life and church and to celebrate the role of the rural church in bringing new life and hope to the countryside.

‘It’s time to tell a new story,’ said Bishop James in response to the reflection of a Church of England vicar-in-training who said, ‘All I ever hear is how hard rural ministry is but today I’ve heard inspirational stories and I’ll go back to college with a new sense of purpose.’

Jerry Marshall, CEO of Germinate: The Arthur Rank Centre (pictured), who put the conference together, said, ‘There is no organisation on earth like the church when it's working well, and growing disciples is key to building the church in local rural communities.’