Posted: 27th June, 2022
The Bishop of Exeter is the driving force behind a new book about village churches which aims to help them flourish and thrive as the beating heart of their communities.
How Village Churches Thrive has been published by the Church of England with a foreword by the Comedian Hugh Dennis, whose father was a vicar and a bishop.
It is aimed at church members and is packed with practical advice and examples of good practice from across England.
In his introduction, the Rt Rev’d Robert Atwell, said “This guide seeks to help those in positions of leadership, whether ordained or lay, to focus their energy on ten basic things that can contribute to the revitalisation, recovery and renewal of their village church.
“Our churches are holy places that speak of God’s unchanging love. If they are to survive as the home of living, praying congregations they need to recover their role as hubs of community life.”
Bishop Robert is the Church of England’s lead bishop on rural affairs as well as sitting in the House of Lords.
The book’s first chapter is about Extending a Warm Welcome and was written by members of the Diocese of Exeter’s Growing the Rural Church team.
Other chapters include making the most of life events like weddings, using buildings creatively, caring for God’s acre, welcoming children and communicating effectively.
Bishop Robert said “I am delighted with the publication of this book, filled with wisdom from clergy and lay people from across the Church of England about how we can help our village churches to be centres of the Gospel as well as centres of love, learning and community.
Bishop Robert acknowledged that some rural parishes were facing difficulty as a result of the pandemic, reduced finances and dwindling congregations.
He said “Sometimes things can seem intractable but it’s not impossible, doing small things makes a difference. It’s one step at a time and that’s how we make progress.
“There is something in this book for everyone to draw upon.”
The book is available to order online or from Christian bookshops.