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Summary of CRG meeting 11.01.17 

The CRG brings together representatives of Christian denominations with a significant rural presence and other groups and organisations concerned with rural life and ministry to discuss issues of common interest on behalf of Churches Together in England.  At the meeting in January 2017, we welcomed two new members – Ron Foster (representing the Methodist / URC Rural Strategy Group) and Richard Kirlew (the new Chair of the Agricultural Chaplains Association).  Discussion included:
‘Thy Kingdom Come. ’ Global Wave of Prayer, 25 May – 5 June 2017.  This is an ecumenical, world-wide initiative, with a range of helpful resources for churches and individuals which can be used in a variety of contexts including small and rural settings.  For more details, see
News from Germinate: Arthur Rank Centre.  The new website has been launched, with a new design, resources for church life, mission and training and a more powerful search engine.  Do have a look!   Many of the courses and programmes offered can be delivered locally at low cost.
Germinate ‘Listening event.’  A ‘Listening Event’ is held in alternate years to identify what God is saying to the rural churches and feed into the Germinate Conference theme and programme.  The CRG meeting reviewed the action points from the 2015 listening event, and found encouragement in what has already been achieved – although there is always more that could be done!  Plans for the 2017 event are now in hand.
Farming issues.  Jerry Marshall attended and contributed to the recent farming conferences in Oxford.  Presentations and stories from Oxford Farming Conference and Oxford Real Farming Conference can be found at  and  A day conference at the ARC on 30 March will look at the impact of Brexit on rural communities, see
Framework for local unity in mission.  Members of the CRG approved the new draft framework as a useful and helpful document for ecumenical working.  It suggests three levels of working arrangements as appropriate for context and time - a simple agreement, partnership or covenant.
Other matters discussed:
Jerry reported on administrative changes at IRCA (International Rural Churches Association) and plans for the next conference to be held in New Zealand in April 2018.
The Rural Officers Gathering at Ampleforth Abbey in November 2016 was a good opportunity to share ideas and experiences of rural mission and ministry.  Discussions were wide-ranging, and included involvement in agricultural shows, building community, and issues that could be addressed in proposed ARC training packages for rural clergy.
Updates from the organisations and denominations represented were also given. 
And finally: ‘Presence: a workbook to help promote and sustain and effective Christian presence in villages’ has been substantially re-written and updated, with a proposed publication date in June 2017.  Look out for more information in the Spring.
Present: Jerry Marshall (Chair & ARC), Robert Barlow (Rural Theology Assn), Elizabeth Clark (ARC / Methodist / URC) Jim Currin (CTE), Ron Foster (Methodist / URC), Jill Hopkinson (ARC / C of E / Fresh Expressions Rural Hub), Richard Kirlew (Agricultural Chaplains Assn), Barry Osbourne (Smaller Free Churches Group / REN), Ann Wright (C of E / IRCA Europe).

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