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Rural mission Sunday: Everybody Welcome! resources available

The third Rural Mission Sunday takes place on 16 July, with a stack of opportunities for churches to engage with their communities ...

Rev Elizabeth Clark, National Rural Officer for the Methodist and United Reformed Churches outlines the thinking behind this year's Rural Mission Sunday ...

"At Germinate: the Arthur Rank Centre we know that rural Christians can and do make a real difference to their communities. However, that is not always how it seems; we can often feel overshadowed by larger urban and suburban churches. So it’s important to stop, reflect on what we do and give thanks.

"Now in its third year, Rural Mission Sunday (16 July) provides an opportunity to celebrate the rural church, to remember all the things we do well, and challenge ourselves to do one new thing.  

"This year we’re focusing on hospitality and welcome, something many rural churches are already good at extending. The theme was chosen last year, when we had no idea how current it would be; God’s timing of course. The seismic political events of 2016 and 2017 have led to a national and global conversation that can sound very unwelcoming, and the Church has a responsibility to model a different narrative. Everybody Welcome! helps us to remember why hospitality is so central to our faith.

"Churches are encouraged to do something: hold an event to bless the community and engage with those who don’t normally come to such gatherings; create a welcome pack for those new to the community; start a group for those who are lonely and isolated.

It’s all about making the most of the connections churches have, and beginning to grow new ones.

But churches are also encouraged to engage with the themes of welcome in the context of worship. The Everybody Welcome! material includes a service outline, prayers, children’s material and other resources to enable those of all ages to reflect on God’s call to his church to extend hospitality.

This is a real opportunity for rural churches around the country to do something for their communities and have fun at the same time. Last year, one church in a very small community decided to use some of the worship material at an afternoon tea. They were very surprised when the whole village joined them!

All the Everybody Welcome! materials are available on our website germinate.net/rural-mission-Sunday-2017. How might you celebrate this year?

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