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Monday, 19 March 2018

#ruralpresence - After Easter till August 2018 – Ideas for church services and events

(this post was 1st published on the Rural Presence Blog)

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Around now might be the time you are bending your mind to events and services for after Easter – say April to August 2018.  Along with some of the red letter days, I’ve collated a number of other ideas.  The “usual suspects” are listed below along with – I hope – some other useful ideas and links.  If you have any ideas to add then please do share them via a comment – maybe with links – on this post.  In next year’s version of this post I’d love to include your ideas and credit you.


Start a Men’s – or Women’s – or both – monthly pub lunch – Over Lent how about asking people whether they’d be interested in the idea of a monthly pub lunch.  You could encourage people interested to let a a named person in the church know.  OR – you might just go ahead and arrange one anyway.
Pub lunches are a great way to provide something to a community.  They bring people together and grow relationships.  Both times I’ve seen one set up at the initial lunch they had 5 or so attendees  – but within a year attendance had grown to 15 or so.
They’re also very resource-lite.  All you need is somebody to send out an email reminder the week before  and probably to make a booking at the pub.  And  it’s good to encourage attendees to invite neighbours and friends to the lunch.
A couple of swipes down this page is an example of publicity for a Men’s pub lunch organised by St. Mary’s church in the market town of Saffron Walden.  And a couple of swipes down this page is the information for a similar men’s pub lunch set up in my 5 parishes.
You’ll notice the publicity focuses on simple, informal, no strings, no agenda and each pay your own messages.
16th (Monday) – In Essex – parents/guardians find out which primary school their child will attend.  Why not include prayers for those involved in the process the Sunday before?  With a bit of planning ahead you could also include some prayers in your April magazine and in webpage and social media updates during early April.
23rd (Monday) – St. George’s Day – A service the Sunday before could invite uniformed organisations like the Brownies, Cubs, Guides and Scouts to take part.  They – and you – might link into Earth Day (22nd Sunday) and its 2018 theme of End Plastic Pollution.


6th (Rogation Sunday) – Organise a walk between some of your churches with short reflections at each, bacon butties at the start and a buffet lunch at the end.  The following text may help spark some other ideas as might the Chelmsford Diocese’s Agricultural Festivals pack, (towards the foot of the page I’ve linked to), which has further ideas on Rogation.
Formally the rogation days are the three weekdays before Ascension day but some churches celebrate this around May time if Easter is early.  Apparently Rogation took over a Greek/Roman annual procession in which the Gods were asked to protect crops.
The poet George Herbert interpreted the procession as a way of asking for God’s blessing on the land, of preserving boundaries, of encouraging fellowship between neighbours with differences, and of charitable giving to the poor.
The tradition of ‘beating the bounds’ – the parish boundary lines or some walk across parishes stopping at churches for refreshment and a short reflection – continues in some churches.
In more recent times, the scope of Rogation has been widened to include petition for the world of work and for accountable stewardship, and prayer for local communities, whether rural or urban.
Also … 6th May – Godparents Sunday – As the site says
“For the third time in 2018, it will take place on May 6th, but you can celebrate the role of godparents at any time of year if you wish.  One of the biggest findings of the research was that godparents really, really matter to families. Godparents are part of family life for all the years ahead, a relationship that will last into adulthood and beyond. “
10th – 20th May – Thy Kingdom Come – global wave of prayer  from Ascension Day (Thursday 10th May).   Website includes helpful resources for churches and families, including ideas for prayer stations and 24-7 prayer events.
13th (Sunday) to 19th (Saturday) – Christian Aid Week – Feed the hungry and welcome the stranger.  Be there for people facing poverty and injustice.
15th (Friday) to 17th (Sunday) National Weekend of Invitation  – “One weekend.  Multitudes of personal invitations to those outside our churches.  All with a simple request to please ‘Be our guest’. ”
20th (Sunday) – Pentecost – the birth of the Christian Church.  Whit Sunday is a favourite day for baptism in some places and Whitsun is the time for walks and processions.  The traditional “Procession of Witness” has long been celebrated throughout the North West.
Or another idea is a Pentecost Pudding and Pimms Party – see page 4 of this Norwich Diocese monthly magazine for more information on how one church does this.
25th (Friday) – General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes  effect  – in the UK from this date.  The Parish Resources website has various resources on what you need to do.  As a 1st step they suggest you carry out a data audit.
27th (Trinity Sunday) – dedicated to the Christian belief in the Trinity.trinity


3rd (Sunday) – The Big Lunch – The UK’s annual get together for neighbours –  a free starter pack is available.
8th & 9th June (Friday & Saturday) – Rural Ministries Annual Conference 2018 –
The Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick. Rev. Cannon Dave Male, Church of England Director for Evangelism & Discipleship is their key note speaker.
“The two days together bring an opportunity to receive core biblical teaching through a range of workshops and seminar programme. “
It costs £90 per person including all accommodation, meals and conference pack. (Found via Rural Ministries March e-news)
9th (Saturday) to 17th (Sunday) – Children’s Art Week – a theme to bring into a Sunday service.
10th Open Farm Sunday – “Opening your farm for LEAF Open Farm Sunday is a fantastic chance to show people what real farming is all about and why supporting British farming matters. Get involved in the farming industry’s annual open day on the 10th June and demonstrate the skills, technology and passion that goes into producing nutritious food and managing the countryside.”  Resources are available to order here.
15th (Friday) to 17th (Sunday) The National Weekend of Invitation – As their website says “One weekend. Multitudes of personal invitations to those outside our churches. All with a simple request to please ‘Be our guest’.” The National Weekend of Invitation reflects 14 years of experience of Back to Church Sunday in the UK and internationally. It is an initiative of the Unlocking the Growth Trust – a charity.
17th (Sunday) – Father’s Day – Who let the Dads out – a Messy Church event for Dads, Grandads & kids  – with food, games, a bible story, songs and craft activities.

22nd (Friday) to 24th (Sunday – The Great Get Together weekend – as the website says
“A celebration of your choosing!  Arrange something with your neighbours, find an event taking place near you or join in online. Whatever you decide, you’ll be part of a huge national celebration. “
(Found via a @ACRE_national tweet)


15th – Rural Mission Sunday – As the webpage I’ve linked to from Germinate: The Arthur Rank Centre says …
” we feel passionately about the importance of small churches: we know they do mission and we want to celebrate that fact.  Rural Mission Sunday is an annual event celebrating the work of small rural churches”.
The page says their 2018 resources will be available by 1st May.   This page shares their stories from 2017 covering examples of what churches did like:
– a Pet Service;
– a BBQ and treasure hunt round the churchyard, a prayer station in church, and ending with a celebratory service;
– Fun, Frogs and Bishops, a community outreach event with a bouncy castle, games, Open the Book displays, Messy Church crafts – and a bishop!  The church building hosted a teddy bears’ picnic, a bear hunt and a quiet cafe area.


1st (Wednesday) – Lammas –  What about a Lammas service the Sunday before?  Or a Bread Making event – Messy Church or one-off Adult Fresh Expression?  The following text may help prompt some other ideas as may Chelmsford Diocese’s Agricultural Festivals pack, (towards the foot of the page I’ve linked to), and its Lammas ideas.
Lammas or ‘Loaf-mass’ is an English feast in origin traditionally held on 1 August.  Now- a-days at others times also.
Its a thanksgiving for the first-fruits of the wheat harvest.  Traditionally, a newly baked loaf from the wheat harvest was presented before God within the mass of that day.
The Lammas loaf might be baked by members of the congregation, using local produce if possible. Other small loaves or buns, in the tradition of ‘blessed bread’, may be distributed to the congregation.
Part of the Lammas loaf might be used as the bread at a Holy Communion.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

7min 40sec @THeEconomist clip - Putin's games with the West: Gary #Kasparov

Text from you tube "As presidential elections take place in Russia, chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov talks about the games President Putin is playing with the West."

Saturday, 17 March 2018

3min @tearfund clip - Giving God a Chance - David's Story

Text from youtube "Musician, Christian, Hero. In 1968, David became a Christian and one of Tearfund’s first supporters. David tells us why giving God a chance is a decision he’ll never regret. #WeWontStop "

Thursday, 15 March 2018

5min @TEDEd animated clip - A day in the life of an ancient Athenian - Robert Garland


Text from youtube "It’s 427 BCE, and the worst internal conflict ever to occur in the ancient Greek world is in its fourth year. Athens is facing a big decision: what to do with the people of Mytilene, a city on the island of Lesbos where a revolt against Athenian rule has just been put down. How did these kinds of decisions get made? Robert Garland outlines a day in the life of Athenian democracy. Lesson by Robert Garland, animation by Zedem Media."

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

7min @RSAEvents clip - 10 Years After the #Financial Crash with Alistair #Darling

Text from youtube "We're still in the backwash of the 2007 financial crash with everything we see today - austerity, brexit, Trump - traced back to the crash 10 years ago. In this fascinating insight, Alistair Darling, Chancellor of the Exchequer during this time, recalls a phonecall with the chairman of RBS which sent a shiver down his spine..."

Monday, 12 March 2018

#ruralpresence - #Community owned businesses that use #rural #church #buildings help sustain the church @GerminateARC @heritagelottery @PlunkettFoundat @UniofNewcastle

  social enterprise cover

(this post was 1st published on the Rural Presence Blog)

This research used 5 full case studies and 2 shorter ones to consider whether community owned businesses can help sustain rural places of worship.  Social enterprises, (more recently called community businesses/co-operatives), are trading organisations with social and community objectives.  Any surplus funds they generate is used to fulfill social purposes.   Examples are community owned shops or pubs or broadband and energy schemes.

The research was commissioned by the Heritage Lottery Funding in 2012 supported by a steering group comprising: Plunkett Foundation; Cathedral and Church Buildings Division of the Church of England; Germinate: The Arthur Rank Centre; Newcastle University.  A report was published March 2017.  

Headlines from the research are:
  • Social enterprise had a positive impact on the long term sustainability of the place of worship. This was through increasing use, additional income generation and the involvement of more people.
  • The needs of the wider community must be the starting point for considering the potential of a social enterprise. Solutions that are solutions for community needs and problems are more likely to be successful than those which are merely solutions for the problems of a place of worship.
  • The benefits and wider impacts of a social enterprise extend beyond meeting the initial service need or resource provision.
  • High quality advice, support and promotion are needed to ensure good practice is shared and built on.
  • There are three challenges to address in the use of social enterprise in places of worship:

    (a) The social enterprise should meet the community’s needs and not be developed
    solely as a solution to problems of a place of worship;

    (b) Recognising and addressing the tensions that may arise in using a spiritual
    place for secular purposes;

    (c) The process for working through the planning system and listed building
    consent, including denominational systems.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

9min 35sec #Kurzgesagt animated clip - Why #Alien Life Would be our #Doom - The Great Filter

Text from you tube "Finding alien life on a distant planet would be amazing news - or would it? If we are not the only intelligent life in the universe, this probably means our days are numbered and doom is certain."