* Seeds in Holy Ground (Seeds) is from the Church of England
* Presence is from the Methodist Church (and is currently being fully updated)
* Making Connections is an ecumenical publication from the Arthur Rank Centre
Ready, Steady, Grow
However, Revd Barbara Bridges – a former rural officer from the Diocese of Gloucester, and currrently a rural minister and community support worker in the Congregational Federation – developed Ready Steady Grow, an ecumenical Lent Course based largely on Seeds and Presence. This is a useful tool for discipleship in small congregations and groups of local rural churches. It has been used in different settings, by a variety of denominational groups (even with the Congregational Federation in very rural northern India). This has been adapted slightly and is offered here as a free tool for other rural churches.
The Making Connections workbook builds on both Seeds and Presence. It emphasises the engagement of rural churches with others: other churches, of the same or different denominations; other individuals or organisations within the local rural communities where the churches are found; and with other voluntary & statutory bodies. This is presented as a key part of affirming & developing the mission of the local rural church in its context. The areas on which it focuses are:
- Working with Others
- Land & Buildings
- Including Young People
- Sharing Faith
- Working with Schools
- Creative Worship
The main emphasis of Making Connections is mission; but it is a fundamental tenet of life-long discipleship that this involves practical action and the outworking of a developing faith. In this respect, using the workbook provides a second stage to the discipleship process grounded in Ready Steady Grow (or Seeds, or Presence).
Making Connections is available from the Arthur Rank Centre office – email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The rural officer from the Diocese of Liverpool, Revd Pat Gray, has used Making Connections in her own work – both in her own congregations and with the diocese more widely. The diocese supplied multiple copies of the workbook to all their rural parishes.
‘We felt that it went some way towards helping reach out to those rural parishes and gave them a guide to how to make it happen! Making Connections provides advice of how rural parishes can identify opportunities for mission; and examples through the inspirational stories, of what other parishes are doing … Feedback that we have received has been very positive, with clergy finding it to be both helpful and positive in its approach to tackling the issues of mission in rural parishes. One of these clergy commented: I have used the booklet for a couple of sermons at Christ Church Croft (which is in a rural setting), talking about the examples given. This generated a great deal of discussion about what we could do.’