Revd Stuart Stobart from St. Aidan's Church. Hellifield and St. Mary's Church, Long Preston emailed us about a very interesting rural expression of Messy Church: Messy Church in a home. We obviously wanted to know more, so here is Stuart’s story:
Its all a very experimental at the moment, but here goes......
18 months ago I moved from a large suburban church in Clayton, Bradford where I set up their Messy Church into two small deep rural villages in the Yorkshire Dales. Long Preston has 600 residents and Hellifield has 1400, so the dynamics are very different.
Sue Smale runs a Messy Church in Overton, a village in Hampshire. Rural ministry with a vengeance - look at this for a story of God alive and active and working with his faithful people in the countryside!
If you're pondering starting a rural Messy Church, do check out the helpful material on the Arthur Rank Centre website.
We've been asked to bring together some case studies of Messy Churches in rural contexts for a library of good practice that will be a briliant resource for rural churches across the UK. Janet in Cornwall, Anne in Co. Durham and Cerys in Lichfield have all kindly sent stories in, but I need more!
Could you manage a little paragraph on your rural Messy Church to help other people in a similar situation? The fictitious paragraph below assembles all the cliches about rural church, so it's up to you to refute or confirm that it's anything like this:
I'm starting to collect stories from rural Messy Churches, so I asked some of our regional coordinators to send me any reflections they have on specifically rural situations. You might have some to send too: why / how is Messy Church working or not working in your country setting? What factors are specific to Messy Churches in the countryside? What are the positive as well as the negative factors at work? What ideas do you have to give the Spirit an open door?
Janet Tredrea is in Cornwall and sends this story of resurrection.
Can anyone share some ideas? Sandra from Hoy in the Orkneys is just starting up with Messy Church and could use some solidarity from rural churches. And reading about her motivation and situation, I'd like to send her lots of encouragement and cheering-on for a great start in a tough situation. Not many of us can say we had 7% of our local population at our first Messy Church!
Here's her request:
Do you run a Messy Church in a village? How does being in a village affect the way Messy Church works?
Sue Avery's village church is thinking about starting one but would appreciate some feedback from other churches in rural settings as they plan.
If you have any insights to offer from your experience, please email us with the title Rural Messy Church and we'll pass on the accumulated wisdom to Sue.