I was invited on Monday to attend a meeting in Skipton, where two Circuits were hoping to recruit someone to encourage and develop ministry and mission in the many rural chapels in that part of Yorkshire. Graham Jones from the Arthur Rank Centre was also present. There is no doubt that Circuits around the Connexion are looking to respond creatively to mission in rural areas; and seeking advice as to how to proceed, whilst also acknowledging that every single village is a different context. There is undoubtedly a feeling abroad that rural agendas are neglected in favour of urban ones and, whether or not this is true, these perceptions need to be addressed by a Connexional Church.
On Wednesday to Queen Mary University in Mile End, London to represent the Church at a 'Summit' called by Citizens UK - a grouping of faith communities and secular agencies with the common aim of improving life for ordinary people. It started in London, and is now spreading to different towns and cities in UK. The main thrust was to get organised nationally for the expected General Election in 2015, to challenge the leaders of all political parties on a range of social issues that need addressing. Both Justin Welby and Vincent Nicholls spoke, alongside Muslim and Jewish leaders. It was a fascinating mixture of local and national interest groups grappling short and long term with deep-seated social issues; and trying to address them at national, local and even personal levels. It will be interesting to see if Citizens UK's undoubted successes in bringing people together for specific causes at local levels, can be translated into a more nationally-focussed organisation.
Two very different meetings - focussing on specific contexts broadly labelled rural and urban - but a large number of common social factors. And I mused going home on the train after both meetings about how the Church is involved day in and day out with this myriad of life 'stuff'. Perhaps, both ministers and lay people, we underestimate just what we deal with every day on our Christian journey?