World Environment Day

It is imperative that we care for our world. The challenges are rising.

We hope that this new resource will be helpful to you in bringing the urgent need to care for the environment before church congregations.

Featuring helpful articles, prayers, liturgy, music suggestions and craft activities, Revd Helen Bent has once again brought a thoughtful and accessible resource before us.

Download now in preparation for the day.

Please let us know when you use this, and send us pictures or news articles for us to feature on the web site, in our newsletter and in social media – thank you.


ARC World Environment Day A4 2024

Earth Day resource for churches and groups – April 22nd 2024

We are delighted to bring our new resource to you for 2024, focused on Earth Day on April 22nd this year.

Continuing our Beyond Consumerism focus, it explores how our care for creation is essential with the many challenges including the climate crisis.

It contains a helpful outline and history of the day, insightful thoughts and reflections, together with service, prayer and worship music suggestions.

Let us know where you use this, and if you can, please send us pictures to share, either by email or via our Social Media.

Click here to download – ARC Earth Day A4 2024


The power of a bacon butty

Chaplain Revd Nick Read, Borderlands rural chaplain, tells how farmers are gathering for more than a sandwich in Shropshire.

The original ‘Butty Van’, a farmers’ breakfast hosted each month on a different farm, was launched in 2017 in south Shropshire by Borderlands Rural Chaplaincy (BRC). We had investigated purchasing a van but decided that it was too expensive and too much hassle to maintain, insure and store, however the name stuck. The Butty Van is, in reality, essentially a camping stove, taken to the farm by a dedicated team of volunteers who cook the bacon and make tea and coffee. The volunteers come from the local parishes and Methodist Chapels (Borderlands is a joint Anglican-Methodist Chaplaincy), and the Chaplaincy team are represented at each event by two or three Chaplains.

The attraction to farmers is that they don’t need to change to come, they meet friends, and they can see what’s happening on a different farm each month. The farmer provides the venue, BRC trains the team, does the health and safety assessments, and arranges for the necessary food hygiene certificates. Although flyers and texts are used to advertise each breakfast, the best advertisement is word of mouth and personal recommendation.

The Shropshire Butty Van is routinely attracting 50 farmers each month. Pre-Covid, we took the Archbishop of Canterbury to visit the Butty Van and enjoy the experience. Although lockdown prevented them from taking place, as soon as it ended they started again and are going from strength to strength. Within the last year we have launched a second Butty Van in northwest Herefordshire (average attendances are over 30) and there is momentum gaining for a third van in the south of the county.

The breakfasts are both hugely enjoyable and important. The farming mental health action framework published in 2019 by Alisha Davies emphasised the need to deliver ‘support through non-health professionals’ (i.e. other professionals linked to agriculture with knowledge of farming life), and to draw on ‘existing, or build strong local links between agricultural agencies, community organisations and health services leading to sustainable rural community capacity.’

The Butty Van enables both of those to happen, providing an interface between the farming community, chaplaincy, and mental health professionals. We facilitate this by highlighting any issues raised at the breakfasts to two local strategic forums of which Borderlands is a member: the Herefordshire Mental Health Partnership Board and the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Suicide Prevention Project Advisory Group.

We have evaluated the van scheme and found:

It works best in a 20-mile radius, otherwise it’s too far to travel and loses continuity.

Butty Vans are more effective if the local market chaplain is also a member of the team, because it fosters networking.

The church is well equipped to enable community resilience because it already has local contacts who act as advocates.

The relationships that develop extend to the churches and chapels who provide the volunteers. As farmers get to know congregational members, barriers begin to break down.

The Shropshire group requested that the last meeting each Christmas should be a carol service!

Could you be a Treasurer Trustee for the ARC ?

The Arthur Rank Centre is currently seeking a new Trustee with a strong financial background to join us.

You will join a board with a wealth of experience and skill with representatives of both the national ecumenical churches and farming communities.

The ARC has for over 50 years sought to offer support, guidance, resources and training for the rural church, rural communities and to support farming. You will be joining the charity at an exciting time of its development, as together we plan for new programmes and activities.

This particular role is to support the finances of the charity, offering a Treasurer role to the Trustee board, and working alongside the Chair of Trustees and the CEO to steer and guide the finances and report to the board.

Trustees meet 4 times per year – twice online and twice in person at the charity offices in Warwickshire.

Additionally, the Treasurer Trustee would lead and attend an online Finance sub-group who meet 4 times a year in advance of the Trustees meetings.

The Treasurer Trustee would be expected to meet regularly both virtually and in person with the CEO to plan the  budget in accordance with the strategy set/agreed by the Trustees and CEO, to monitor the ongoing financial spend against the budget and to monitor the charity’s investments.

We seek a Treasurer Trustee with a strong financial background, acumen and ability, able to examine, report, offer guidance and insights to the board, such that the charity is steered effectively.

As a Christian charity, Trustees are expected to be a practising Christian, or in sympathy with the faith, culture, ethos and aims of the charity.

Trustees for the ARC serve for an initial 3-year term, and this may be extended for a maximum further 3 years.

To express an interest in this role, or for an initial conversation, please contact our Chair of Trustees, Professor David Pink via

References will be sought for this role, and the position will be in line with the Charities Commission, such that you must be eligible to act as a Charity Trustee.

Expenses will be reimbursed for out-of-pocket costs attributable to the role.

Plough Sunday at St Winwaloe

St Winwaloe Church, near Launceston, Cornwall, held a Plough Sunday service this month. The service was conducted by Caroline Stone, Local Worship Leader to bless the plough and pray for a fruitful harvest season.

The church used resources from The Arthur Rank Centre, which provides resources, support, training, and advocates for rural churches. The Plough Sunday service is the first agricultural festival of the year and is traditionally held on the first Sunday of January.

The service was attended by local parishioners, who were delighted to be part of the tradition, and all keen and willing to be involved as together they explored the significance of the Plough Sunday service.

The church has a long history and is dedicated to St Winwaloe, a Breton saint who is said to have lived in the 6th century. It is the smallest parish church in Cornwall, at 12 feet wide and 40 feet long, and continues to provide a rich ministry to the local community.

Read more of the church’s history and heritage here.

January 2024 – New Rural Hidden Hardship research out now…

New research makes recommendations for responding to rural hidden hardship

What comes to mind from rural hardship? Most likely not an image of the Cotswolds. The North Cotswolds are more often associated with tourism and affluence, however, there is a significant minority of people experiencing hardship. When hidden by affluence, hardship is not always sufficiently understood and addressed by policymakers and community leaders.

A research project by Dr Stephanie Denning at Coventry University funded by the British Academy and Leverhulme Trust has sought to better understand hardship in the North Cotswolds: people’s experiences of rural hardship, coping strategies, and barriers to improved wellbeing.

The jigsaw of rural hardship.
Credit: Hidden Hardship and Beth Waters

What did the research involve?
The research took place in 2023 with people experiencing and/or responding to hardship in the rural North Cotswolds in south-west England. The research was formed of 2 stages with 24 participants:

1) Time spent at community groups and gatherings with 22 interviews undertaken with people experiencing and/or responding to hardship.

2) 12 go-along interviews and 3 sets of diaries written by people experiencing hardship.
The research took place in a largely representative rural town and a rural village in the North Cotswolds. At the request of some of the research participants, the town and village are not named.


Inequality in the Cotswolds.
Credit: Hidden Hardship and Beth Waters

What did the research find?
Rural hardship in the North Cotswolds is often hidden because of inequalities and the relative affluence experienced by the majority, and the high levels of tourism in the area.

Kate’s experience of hardship and hunger.
Credit: Hidden Hardship and Beth Waters

Associated with this, some participants felt stigma and shame in hardship:


“It’s embarrassing… in the area that we live in, I think to put your hands up and say, I’m really struggling here…
you feel judged. Whether you are or not, I don’t know.”

(Julie, local resident, interview, 2023)


The research found that hardship can be defined as struggle and tough times, reflecting daily struggle more than one-off ‘emergency’ situations.


“I often found it cheaper to just buy powdered milk and cereal for myself which made me feel quite low…
Have struggled to sleep some nights because I’ve been hungry. Soup and shakes aren’t always very filling.”

(Kate, local resident, diary, 2023)


Rural hardship is not the same as urban hardship. The causes of rural hardship can be summarised as ‘lacks of’ including government support and investment, employment, transport.

In people’s coping strategies, huge importance was given to informal support networks with friends and families, in addition to support offered by local groups although these could be difficult to access with limited transport options and a fear of stigma.

Barriers to wellbeing included isolation, cost of private transport, and lack of public transport.
Credit: Hidden Hardship and Beth Waters

Barriers to improved wellbeing were to some degree perceived as outside of people’s control, which makes it difficult for people to envisage hardship improving. These included the ‘lacks of’ such as problems with transport, lack of government support and investment, and stigma/shame linked to inequality.


Hidden Hardship research recommendations:

The research’s Report for Policymakers and Community Leaders concludes with five recommendations which are summarised here:
(see the full report for more details)

1. There need to be more tailored national government and national voluntary sector responses to rural hardship.
• Rural and urban hardship are not the same and each pose different challenges.

2. More government and voluntary sector support is needed for individuals experiencing daily rural hardship including within the welfare state to address the high cost of rural living.
• Regular Job Centre benefit appointments need to either take place at a location closer to where people live than the nearest city, or have the option to be carried out remotely for example over the phone.

3. Rural residents need support accessing transport to get to medical appointments at GP surgeries and hospitals with local GP practices/branches re-opening and/or staying open.
• Many of the research participants living in hardship experienced challenges with their physical and/or mental health. Many had difficulty accessing medical appointments to improve their health.

4. Local organisations and leaders (including Church leaders) should raise awareness in the general population in rural areas such as the North Cotswolds that people are experiencing hardship, and sensitively give a voice to people experiencing hardship to share their experiences.
• Rural hardship in the North Cotswolds is often hidden for the wealthier majority. This is played out in the contradiction of the strength and support of rural communities but with people in hardship experiencing or fearing stigma and shame.

5. The ‘lacks of’ that cause and affect rural hardship need to be addressed in local and national government planning, notably public transport/infrastructure, affordable housing, and amenities.
• These need to be shown to local residents to be possible to change and influence, rather than being outside of people’s control making it difficult to envisage a more positive future.

Want to know more?
For more information including the full Report for Policymakers and Community Leaders and accompanying briefing, visit or email Dr Stephanie Denning at


You can visit the Hidden Hardship Exhibition at Coventry Cathedral from 30th January to 26th February 2024.

Plough Sunday 2024

We are delighted as ever to bring you a helpful Plough Sunday resource for services in January 2024. Traditionally it would have taken place on the very first Sunday of the year, but perhaps you might like to develop the service for a different Sunday in the month.

Although Plough Sunday traditionally coincides with Epiphany, in a group of churches – i.e. Anglican multi-benefice or Methodist circuit – more could be made of it to create a bigger event.

The New Year Resolutions provide opportunities and challenges to involve families and the local school.

The resource includes a ready worked service with a New Year Pledge, based on the Methodist Covenant service.

Please do let us know if you are using this resource, and remember to send us any pictures or media coverage etc so that we can share this among rural communities far and wide.

Every blessing to you.

Plough Sunday 2024 Hi-Res

Advent 2023 – Beyond Consumerism

Our Beyond Consumerism Advent resource provides an opportunity to ‘do December differently’.

It embraces the radical challenges of Advent in the light of the cost of living crisis but also the world problems of consumerism, fair trade and climate change.

Why not try the Advent calendar to make space each day to engage with advent themes while earthing them in real life, or use the cries of the prophets to put a different emphasis on the lighting of the Advent wreath.

Download it here – ARC Beyond Consumerism Advent – 2023

With every blessing for this Advent Season.

Rev’d Matt Jeffrey



Rural Ministry Course reflections

Having recently returned from the October 2023 Rural Ministry Course, we felt it good to provide a reflection on just how well it went…

Read on, and find a link to bookings for the 2 courses in 2024…


“A well put together and worthwhile course. Just what I needed at this point in my ministry. Thank you.” – Oct 23 participant.

When you’re new in leadership within the context of rural mission & ministry the role can feel slightly overwhelming and leave you unsure of where to start. Gathering with others in similar situations to take time out to pray, eat, learn & journey together can really help.

Participants received thought-provoking, practical, & encouraging input from experienced practitioners around the topics of rural contexts, mission, faith-rooted community organising, agriculture, leadership, inter-generational wild worship & evangelism – all whilst forming a supportive, ecumenical community that even continues beyond the course.

Our most recent gathering took place in October, with twenty three rural leaders from five different denominations. We left filled with hope and encouragement for the journey ahead and are looking forward to reconnecting online next term.


“Really helpful – practical, inspiring & encouraging!”- Oct 23 RMC participant.

The course is designed for lay & ordained leaders new to a rural context, entering a rural appointment for the first time, or in need of a ‘rural refresher’.

1-2nd May, 2024 at Yarnfield, Staffs.
2-3rd Oct, 2024 at King’s Park, Northampton.

Spaces are limited and can get booked up quickly. Come & join us for a future course : Click here for more information and to make your booking.