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Summary of CRG meeting 15.10.16 

The CRG brings together representatives of Christian denominations with a significant rural presence and other groups and organisations concerned with rural life and ministry to discuss issues of common interest on behalf of Churches Together in England.  The meeting in Oct 2016 included:

Germinate Conference – ‘Making it happen.’   The CRG met soon after this second major rural conference held in Coventry on 15 October.  It had been a very good event, with keynote speakers, case studies and stories to inspire, encourage and equip those involved in rural mission and ministry.  Links for further information:
Resources for rural churches and communities and details of future events, programmes and courses from ‘Germinate at the Arthur Rank Centre’ can be found on:
Farming issues.  Christopher Jones presented a statement from the Agricultural Christian Fellowship to help churches understand the context and issues facing farmers following the vote to leave the EU.  ‘There are major questions to resolve about food supply, the future role of farming, why and whether it should be supported, how and to what end, but all that will be much more difficult if serious damage is done in the meantime.  It is obviously a relief that the government has announced some immediate continuity and this should be welcomed as we go on to think about what the longer-term policy might be.’  Meetings were held recently in Bath and Oxfordshire to discussed some of these issues, based on the book ‘Honey and Thistles.,’
Other matters discussed:
Updates from members of the CRG on rural issues and initiatives in their denominations and organisations, including:

Rural placements.  This is now part of full-time training for ordained ministry at The Queens Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education in Birmingham and is a good example for other training institutions.

CTE’s consultation on local ecumenism.  The National Rural Officers contributed to Stage 1.  The current New Framework proposal is available for comment until the end of February - 

Forthcoming conferences.  The RC rural conference is 13-15 February 2017, based at Sarum College, Salisbury.  The next IRCA Conference will be held in New Zealand in April 2018. 

The 5 Rs are a good basis for ecumenical events for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation –  - Rejoice, Remember, Reform, Repent and Reconcile. 

Future dates for your diary:
25 May to 4 June 2017‘Thy Kingdom Come’.  Ecumenical Global Wave of Prayer initiative.  Do let us have any ideas for activities or approaches that would work in a rural context! 

And finally: Les Hann was attending his last meeting of the CRG as the representative of the Methodist / URC Rural Strategy Group, and was thanked for his contribution to the group. 
Present: Jerry Marshall (Chair & ARC), Robert Barlow (Rural Theology Assn), Elizabeth Clark (ARC / Methodist / URC) Jim Currin (CTE), Roger Greene (IRCA /Agricultural Chaplains), Les Hann (Methodist / URC), Jill Hopkinson (ARC / C of E / Fresh Expressions Rural Hub), Christopher Jones (FCN / ACF / ATP), Barry Osbourne (Smaller Free Churches Group / REN), Ann Wright (C of E / IRCA Europe).

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