Countryside compassion for the city

Germinate Enterprise recognised by Cinnamon Network

New programme to help rural communities flourish recognised by Cinnamon Network

Germinate Enterprise, which enables rural churches to help their community flourish, has been accepted as a Cinnamon Network-recognised project.

Developed by Germinate: The Arthur Rank Centre, this business start-up programme can be run by any church to encourage local people to develop their entrepreneurial skills, work out what business to start and check whether it would be viable. Follow up Beer Mat Mentoring material facilitates informal follow up support of aspiring entrepreneurs.

‘We are really excited that Germinate Enterprise has become a Cinnamon Recognised Project,’ said Cinnamon Network founder Matt Bird. ‘Germinate Enterprise is a simple and effective way for local churches to help people in rural communities to create prosperity for their families and their community.  We’re looking forward to seeing local churches across the country start Germinate.’

All the materials can be downloaded free at and there is a short explanatory film.

The development of Germinate Enterprise was supported by the Prince’s Countryside Fund.

‘This is a way people can create real jobs for themselves and others,’ said Jerry Marshall, CEO of Germinate: The Arthur Rank Centre and a serial entrepreneur himself. ‘There is a particular need in rural areas to keep young and working age people by providing local jobs and the growth of high speed rural internet will help reduce the drift to the city.’

‘My dream is to find 1000 facilitators across the country, he added. “That would be transformational.’


Case study 1

Jayne Brassington attended a pilot Germinate Enterprise programme in Worcester in 2015. She and her husband already had a business idea when she came on the course, but she said it was their ‘springboard’. It helped her ‘consolidate their thoughts’. It gave her the business skills she needed and she was encouraged that those leading the course thought her idea was ‘not bonkers’ and that they were ‘looking at a serious business’.

The sold their house and now live in a caravan next to a barn they have purchased in rural Worcestershire. They have a vision to provide spa services and therapies, offer workshops in natural and holistic areas of interest, and provide accommodation for those wanting a break in beautiful surroundings as well as training and meeting facilities for hire. They are developing the barn with passive design to minimise energy cost and efficiency.

They are making progress and already have a salon up and running but also have challenges, especially around funding and development, although their architect is confident that these will be overcome. They expect to be employing around 10 people in five years’ time. 01386 751837 Paddock Barn, Birlingham WR10 3AF


Case study 2

Matt Croxton ran one of the first programmes in Rushton, Northants, with a group that included homeless people. He himself has recently launched a business as a result, . He is planning to start a Beer Mat Mentoring group.


CW88 – Reconciliation: Living out reconciliation for families

By Dawn Savidge, Messy Church trainer and families advisor for the Diocese of Leeds


Reconciliation; it’s such a powerful word. It is something that we try to teach our children from a very early age. But how do we model it in a world that is full of so many injustices, conflict and disagreements?

Just a few of the issues that have arisen over the past couple of years have been Brexit, COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter.

The voices of hatred and discontent have risen up alongside a passion to make our world a fairer and more understanding place. It may seem that some of these issues are so far removed from where you are living.

One of the best things about Messy Church is that it is an intergenerational worship community. This might look like dozens of people meeting in a church building, it also might look like two families meeting in a home, having a meal together and looking at a scripture around activities, fun and prayer.

It gives us a chance to have honest conversations with people from different generations; to hear what affects our children and adults. Does reconciliation look generationally different and are there ways that we can help each other?

There are plenty of issues that impact rural communities; Brexit and farming are just two of them. Why not explore some of those with a Messy Church field trip? Can you relate what is happening in your community to a Bible passage?

Make sure you ask open-ended questions: What would Jesus do if he were here?  How can the policy makers listen to people in communities like ours?  What would you like to do to heal the community?

If you are living in an urban area which is rich in multi-cultural diversity, some of these topics will be easier to relate to. How can you engage with these issues in a rural context? Start by watching the news. I know it can sometimes be a bleak place, but it gives you a view of what is happening in the world outside of our communities.

In July 2021 we have seen a rise in the Black Lives Matter campaign in relation to the Euros and the hurt that has been caused. It is by knowing about things that are happening in the world that we can then look to our Bibles and see what God has to say about it.

Jesus crossed many cultural divides. He healed the Syrophoenician woman’s daughter (Mark 7). He told the story of the Good Samaritan and how a Jew was helped by a non-Jew (Luke 10). God gave Peter the vision for a new church that included Gentiles through the dream about what he could eat (Acts 10). He healed the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). The Bible has a lot to say about issues that we are facing today.

The coronavirus pandemic has reshaped our communities and heightened the existing needs of people. Families are barely surviving and not thriving, with a reliance on food banks, increased unemployment and worries about having enough money. Jesus loves the poor. He turned the world upside down.  Why not look at the Beatitudes with your Messy Church?

Messy Church is a great way to explore what it means to be reconciled. Listen to the world, listen to the Bible and listen to each other.

CW84: Tilling the soil

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.

CW78: Growing Together – Crossing Borders

As the whole of Europe, and these islands in particular, seek to manage the implications of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, lots and lots of heat is being generated, but often not a lot of light. Some continue to strike forward, others seek to rewind the clock. And some just try to ignore it and get on with everyday life.

debbie&andrew’s Community Micro-Sponsorship

Sausage-makers debbie&andrew’s are supporting local community initiatives through their community micro-sponsorship scheme. Download their Autumn 2017 press release here – which includes news of opportunities to apply for up to £1000 and free sausages worth £50 for your community event! – and visit their website for more information.

CW75: Going through the gate

HMP Lowdham Grange is a modern category B prison built on the site of a mid-20th century borstal for boys. Positioned at the top of a hill, its brick and concrete outer gate is rather imposing, the only entrance within the high walls. The prison is home to 900 long-term inmates, contained by the keys and security systems which keep prisoners inside and prevent the outside world from gaining access. 300 prison staff bring the total population to well over one thousand.

In stark contrast, for over 900 years St Mary’s Church has stood at the bottom of the same hill in a dell with a stream running through. Its grounds are demarcated by hedges and fences with a wooden gate for access. At one time the church door would have been open during the day for those who wished to come in and pray.

CW75: Hospitality away from home: Reflections on the Jungle

For eighteen months I made weekly visits to the Calais jungle. Home to ten thousand people on the move, the camp covered a couple of acres of wind-blasted wasteland at the back of the cement works by Calais’ harbour.

The camp was not an official response to the so-called migrant crisis. Rather it grew over many months as people who had been moved on from other parts of the city arrived and settled. It started as a collection of tents and became a community of wooden huts with cafes, shops and other businesses springing up to meet the needs of the residents that couldn’t be satisfied by the humanitarian efforts of a ragbag army of mainly British volunteers. I went because I sensed God calling me to go and offer the welcome of the gospel to people displaced by war and persecution. Yet on arrival I found welcome from some of the poorest, least settled people on the planet and I found myself asking God afresh, ‘what are you saying to me?’

CW75: Younger and deeper

‘What would you say to setting up a residential community of 20s-30s in Charlecote’s vicarage?’

Two years ago this was the question Coventry Diocese’s Archdeacon Missioner posed to me. I was half-way through ordination training and the question was completely unexpected. My response was, ‘Are you setting me up for a fall?!’

Wild Harvest

A Harvest service to take place outside in the wild. Originally designed to be used in a Sunday school but could also be used as part of a service or all-age.

Harvest Resources for children and young people

A selection of prayers, songs and activities to be used with children and young people during the festival of harvest

An Allotment Harvest

A Harvest service that takes place on an allotment and then moves to church. This service also involves produce from the allotment to be presented as offerings in church.