I stand at the door of the church, alternately looking along the path to the lychgate and glancing at my watch. Not every erstwhile pilgrim arrives on time, so I usually allow ten minutes after the ‘we are definitely leaving at x o’clock’ deadline. Two more people turn into the churchyard, one carrying a large rucksack, the other a small shoulder bag, together exemplifying the range of pack which individuals deem suitable for a day’s walk. I smile to myself – one of them will have everything they could possibly need, including a magnificent packed lunch; the other will have to make do with the generosity of fellow pilgrims if they want to eat. However, one pilgrim will become very tired on the uphill’s, maybe even needing their bag carried, while the other will merrily stride along in the vanguard of the group, keeping up a lively conversation as they go.
Nobody does breakfast like a farming family and I am certainly enjoying this one. Round the table are the Rev Rob Kelsey and the Birketts, Ali and Ruth. Over bacon and steaming pots of coffee I am hearing that something new is happening in Horncliffe.
Caring for God’s Acre will be twenty years old in 2020. We have been supporting and advising churchwardens, PCCs and churchyard volunteers since the birth of the charity in 2000, helping them to keep these unique sites beautiful and accessible.
To celebrate our 20th anniversary we have designated 2020 as the Year of the Burial Ground and have committed ourselves to raising the profile of these unique spaces and celebrating with the people and communities who care for them.
A young man from Eastern Europe arrived in the UK full of hope and expectation. He had accepted a job offer which would provide a good income, security and the possibility of further training. It had been a struggle to save up for his contribution towards the costs of transport, but he knew it would be worth it. He had travelled in a very crowded minibus with a lot of other equally hopeful young men. Might they be future neighbours, sharing space and life stories?
At its simplest, ethical evangelism involves making sure that what you are saying and doing are consistent with what you believe. What do you and your church believe about being a Christian. Do the details matter? What difference do you think it makes? There is still a prevailing caricature of evangelists that often takes some effort to overcome, so be prepared to explain your motivation for sharing the good news of God’s love. What difference do you think it makes? What difference does it makes to you?
Towards the end of last summer’s County Championship season, Somerset County Cricket Club hosted a crowd of over five hundred farmers and their families during their four-day game against Yorkshire. The day was jointly organised by Somerset CCC, the Farming Community Network (FCN) and the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institute (RABI).
Most of us who live in the countryside are conscious that there is a story behind everything we eat. But that story is becoming confusing as media soundbites repeatedly tell us that meat (particularly red meat) is either destroying the planet through its emissions or making us ill.
We are intrinsically linked with the soil, certainly from a biblical perspective. In Genesis, God reminds us that we were made from the soil (Genesis 2:7) and that it will become the source of our food. We are explicitly told to care for it (Genesis 2:15) and in doing so live out God’s original call to us as human beings.
Death, grief and bereavement are realities that touch each of us. Churches, whether rural, suburban or urban, have a huge role in offering support and care during these most difficult times, and churchyards can be particularly significant spaces for those who are grieving a loved one.
Many Christian parents are keen for their children to grow to know and love God for themselves. But it can feel like so many things get in the way, and many don’t feel they have the time or skills to help their children in this way. Parenting for Faith, part of the Bible Reading Fellowship, produces free resources to help parents and carers to raise God-connected children and teenagers, and resource churches to better support parents as they help their children