A toolkit for rural churches
With rural clergy – across the denominations – responsible for larger groups of churches, we know that the involvement of lay people in planning and leading worship is becoming increasingly important. Worshipping Together is designed to enable those who worship in rural churches to plan and lead worship that is appropriate for their contexts and doesn’t require the presence or practical involvement of a clergy person.
A minister received a phone call from one of her church members: there was no one available to lead their worship the following Sunday so they wondered if it would be alright if they asked people to pick their favourite hymn and talk about why it was special to them. ‘Absolutely’, the minster replied.
Visiting the church the following week, the minister was told how much they had enjoyed the service the previous week: ‘We didn’t know that Elsie thought this and Jack thought that. It was a great time of sharing, can we do it again?’
Worship is at the heart of all that we are as Christians, and many rural Christians value worshipping together in their own communities. Coming together to worship God helps us to put things in their right perspective, to acknowledge God at the centre of our lives, and to bring the life of our community into our worship. After all, ‘worship, prayer and the celebration of the sacraments offered faithfully and lovingly in the heart of the community enriches everyone’ (Presence, Methodist Church, 2004).
Worshipping Together was developed by Revd Elizabeth Clark, National Rural Officer for the Methodist and United Reformed Churches, and Revd Dr Mark Betson, National Rural Officer for the Church of England. The resource reflects our commitment to working ecumenically and takes into account the challenges and opportunities of lay leadership in different denominations.