Last week’s Fresh Expressions annual Rural Conference was the “best yet” in the opinion of one of the organisers, Pete Atkins.
” I loved the content” shared Pete “especially the stories and workshops. They were highly illustrative of the direction we need the rural church to travel in and workshops highly relevant to most participants.”
Fresh Expressions has been seeking to enable rural practitioners to re-imagine church for rural settings for some time and this annual gathering was epitomised by a sense of unity, purpose and hope for the transformation of rural UK as over 70 people gathered together.
Pete continues that he was “particularly struck by the unanimity across the gathering with regard to our dream, mission, values and strategic direction as expressed on the summary paper of our strategy. I think the three interconnected strands of prayer, network and leaders made sense particularly to strategists – whether at Deanery/similar or regional level.(See below.) I would say most them wholeheartedly have bought into these and are already pursuing them or adjusting life to do so.”
Kath Atkins has been central to Fresh Expressions work with Rural contexts in recent years. She was also deeply impacted by the unity and commitment present.
“The gathering felt like a time of hope for the countryside. 70 plus committed people together in one space with a passion for seeing God at work both now and looking to follow his lead into the future cannot but make a difference.”
Fresh Expressions Network Animator Tim Lea was also encouraged by the conference.
“What did I see? I have been journeying with the FX Rural Team over the past year as they have prayed, discerned and listened to what God might be saying in the rural context. The conference was a culmination of all of that hard work. It fantastic to see how it echoed with so many who were present and affirmed the FX rural strategy moving forward. It was an exciting time to hear stories of mission, people and organisations willing to change and the Holy Spirit at work in the rural context from all over the UK and in Australia, USA and Sweden. Wonderful!”
One of the outcomes of the get together was agreement of a rural strategy focusing on Prayer, Networks and Leaders called “What do you see.”