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New rural mission area for Teme Valley

Published: 9th January 2024

Sallie Butcher, David Morris and Julia Curtis are three Priests in the Teme Valley who have joined together to work across a new wider mission area.

David, Julia and Sallie will continue to have responsibility for their own areas, but going forward they will be working together more closely, supporting each other and sharing resources across the whole area, which stretches from the edge of the Wyre Forest, West of the River Severn, over to the diocesan border just outside of Tenbury Wells and then halfway to Bromyard in the South including Clifton upon Teme, the Shelsleys and Lower Sapey (Harpley).

The Revd Julia Curtis (pictured far right) said:

 “Our vision is that the new rural mission area is the ‘big picture’ allowing us to tackle as a team the challenges that are now facing all rural ministry and share resources.”

“However, we will continue to ensure there is a local presence in each area as well so that people know who their local ministers are and who to go to. For example, if you wanted a funeral service for a family member, you won’t just be allocated a minister from the central pool – you'll know who your parish priest is. People like the connection they have with their local minister.”

David, Sallie and Julia feel that they’re a good team to be working together on this and although new things will undoubtedly emerge, the team are sensitive to how rural communities view the church and the things that are important to uphold.

The Revd David Morris (pictured middle back) said:

“We’re all passionate about rural ministry and the farming communities we serve. Individual churches are incredibly dear to people in rural areas who regard the church as theirs and an integral part of the local community - there’s often a large overlap between things in church and things in the community. The agricultural shows and village fetes are important to each community, so the church needs to have meaningful engagement with all of those. Each community will also host a Harvest service in their local church, as along with All Souls and Remembrance services, these hold great significance in rural communities.”

While there are challenges to working across this new area to do with terrain and geography, David, Sallie and Julia can see many advantages to grouping together in this new way. Rather than each of them ‘reinventing the wheel’ in their own individual areas, they can offer a wider range of activities across the larger area. For example;

  • Creating larger choirs across several villages and hamlets.
  • Offering wedding preparation at Great Witley to a larger group of couples.
  • Running one Walking Church which moves around to different locations providing greater variety.
  • Using one Lent course across the whole mission area, with each Priest taking on a different time slot to offer greater choice for the day, evening and on Zoom.

The Revd Sallie Butcher (pictured far left) said:

“This is about making borders more porous rather than worrying about encroaching on someone else’s patch, because of course God is less concerned about such things. The Spirit doesn’t move like that!”

David added:

“Our plan is to see what will evolve but we’re hoping to build something that will outlast us and hope that what we discover could be replicated elsewhere and help resource other ministries.”

“Currently though, as this is new ground, we are allowing space for the Holy Spirit because the transformation is not from us but from the Spirit. We’re seeing where the Spirit leads us”.

 

Page last updated: Tuesday 9th January 2024 4:18 PM

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