He's top dog (collar) on rural affairs
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.
Bishop Robert Atwell is the Church of England’s lead bishop on rural affairs as well as sitting in the House of Lords.
How Village Churches Thrive has been published by the Church of England with a foreword by comedian Hugh Dennis, whose father was a vicar and a bishop.
Bishop Robert is at the Devon County Show on Saturday to talk about the book. Bishop Robert is a frequent visitor to the show, where he has previously blessed the cattle.
In his introduction to the book, Bishop Robert says: “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.”
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 acknowledged that some rural parishes were facing difficulties 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.”