The Arthur Rank Centre is the base for the National Rural Officers for the Church of England and the Methodist and United Reformed Churches. They provide consultancy, support, advice and advocacy for rural churches. The NROs are available for training, speaking and preaching engagements across the country and work in partnership with other organisations such as the Fresh Expressions Rural Hub, HOPE, the Plunkett Foundation and Rural Coalition.
The Rural Officers Network is an ecumenical network of Rural Officers across the Dioceses, Districts and Synods of the churches. Through frequent briefings, regular visits and an annual gathering the network is resourced and supported by the National Rural Officers.
Rural Officers are lay and ordained people who are appointed by a Methodist District, Anglican Diocese, URC Synod or Roman Catholic Bishop to give some or all of their time to providing information and advice, pastoral care and strategic thinking on rural mission and ministry and rural community development. Rural Officers work ecumenically on a regional or sub-regional basis as well as at the most local level, supporting colleagues in ministry and working in partnership with other organisations. They represent the church on a wide range of bodies and organisations including local strategic partnerships, church governing structures, mission organisations and auction marts. They are a vital source of information and expertise for rural churches.
A Rural Officer is available for consultation on a wide range of issues and can offer locally relevant advice on topics such as:
- Food and farming issues
- Community partnerships
- Pastoral care in rural communities
- Ministry, mission and growth in rural areas
- Development of church buildings for community use
- Worship and the celebration of festivals such as Harvest, Rogation and Plough Sunday
- Relationships with organisations such as Rural Community Councils and National Farmers Union or others
A small group from the ecumenical network of Rural Officers has been reflecting theologically on their work. The fruits of this, Theology and Praxis for Rural Officers, can be read here.