Rural Church


Celebrating the creativity of our rural churches across the Church of England in Leicestershire.

The Diocese of Leicester is a rural diocese with urban heartlands, working in partnership and led by God’s people…

The Diocese of Leicester has one of Britain’s most diverse cities at its geographical centre but more than twice as many of its 320 churches are situated in the countryside than in towns. More Church of England weddings happen in Leicestershire’s countryside churches than in urban ones, and almost 80 per cent of its schools are rural. We are a rural diocese with urban heartlands.

From bustling market towns, to quiet villages, former mining communities to new housing developments, the term rural can mask many significant differences, which is why it is so important for the church to be part of every community and to prayerfully discern what God is doing in their particular context.

From luncheon clubs to Messy Churches, ministry among the elderly and isolated to work with village schools, fresh expressions of Church to BCP communions, Bible studies to social events, our rural churches exist to resource the everyday faith of their congregations and to make God’s love known in their local setting.

 

The Rural Commission - 'Deep Wells and Green Pastures'

A report commissioned by the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow, and published in 2018, called for the Church of England in Leicestershire to transform its attitudes and approach towards rural churches. Led by the Dean of Leicester, the Very Revd David Monteith, the Rural Commission analysed the results of consultations and information gathering to produce the report called ‘Deep Wells and Green Pastures’, for the Bishop and leadership team of the Diocese of Leicester.
One key recommendation of the report was that the Church of England in Leicestershire should shift from seeing itself as an urban diocese with a rural edge to a rural diocese with urban heartlands, working in partnership and led by God’s people. Noting among its key findings that the whole church needs the gifts of the rural church, the report made recommendations in seven key areas, all of which can be read in the Executive Summary which can be downloaded below.
Bishop Martyn said: “Our rural churches are often more embedded in their local communities than is the case in urban places but they often feel neglected and face huge changes in society over the last century. With lower numbers of regular churchgoers, they have fewer volunteers to share the significant administration duties of our traditional structures and the upkeep of our historic buildings. “We want to better support Christians in our countryside, so that our town and village churches feel united and equally valued. “Our leadership team is acting on recommendations to improve our central structures and processes so that we empower and treasure our countryside churches. We are fostering partnership between rural and urban churches in this fantastically diverse diocese.”
The Very Revd David Monteith said: “All of us on the Rural Commission Group have been on an amazing journey and found it a great blessing to discover more about some of the work our rural churches are doing. If adopted and acted upon, the report’s findings could lead to real change. “We have made a series of recommendations which focus on defining success across a wide range of issues from schools and young people to finance and governance. The report sets out a series of WAGOLLS – descriptions of ‘What A Good One Looks Like’ – which explain our vision and ambition for flourishing rural churches. “As the report says, we want to celebrate our rural churches but also to enable them to lament the changes and struggles that have happened in order to move confidently towards the future. We want to recognise the success that many rural churches have had despite the challenges they face and to better support them in serving their communities in our changing society.”
The Rural Commission was undertaken by a panel comprising priests and churchgoers from across the Diocese of Leicester as well as Canon Dr Jill Hopkinson, Rural Officer for the national Church of England. More details can be read in the full report which can be found below.

Discovering Rural Gems

The first step to improving understanding of the good work being done by rural churches was a celebration day for the whole diocese to enjoy together. ‘Discovering Rural Gems’ was held in the grounds of Brooksby College, near Melton Mowbray, and saw hundreds of people from churches in town and country coming together in faith and fun. Barefoot-walking, BBQs, bellringing and a bouncy castle were just some of the activities on offer. We shared worship for all ages, ideas for prayer and creative church, played games and ate together, making the most of the fresh air and green spaces. Follow this link to download the transcript of the Bishop’s talk at the main worship event at the Rural Gems day. A news article and video from the day can also be found by clicking here