Church leaders have been meeting with farmers and organisations providing pastoral care and practical support and learning about the crucial role the church can play in rural areas, at this year’s Great Yorkshire Show from 11 to 13 July in Harrogate.
Bishop Nick Baines and his wife Linda are pictured meeting with the President of the Show, Lord Middleton at the President’s lunch on Day Two of the Show, which was predicted to break all records for the number of visitors in a single day.
Hundreds of visitors have come through the Yorkshire Church on Show Pavilion each day – Chair of the Church on Show, Revd Maureen Browell, is pictured third from right with volunteer guides. This year’s theme was ‘Seeing Signs of Hope’ with visitors invited to step aside from the crowds, and help build the largest flower arrangement made of green biodegradable drinking straws and paper petals. Creativity included building a city-scape with lego or a rural landscape using plasticine with a ‘light table’ for prayers of thanks and a prayer pool for reflection. Many expressed appreciation for the opportunity to pause and reflect.
An ecumenical team of ten people from across Yorkshire have worked on the Show pavilion, while the Revd Matthew Evans from Christ Church Harrogate was responsible for creating many of the exhibits. It’s Maureen’s final year as Church on Show Chair and she would like to hear from others who would like to be involved in planning and new ideas. Contact Maureen here if you are interested.
Pictured with Maureen Browell (left), visiting Church on Show pavilion is the Archdeacon of Richmond and Craven, Ven. Beverley Mason who toured the showground in the company of Canon Leslie Morley, the Shows Honorary Chaplain. after leading the opening prayers from the bandstand. It was Beverley’s first visit to the show. “It’s vast, full of people from our local communities and from across the country and the place is just buzzing. It’s been fantastic to see the life and energy of the Show and the way it brings together the whole broad spectrum of life in rural communities.”
During the day Beverley met with volunteers on the Farming Community Network, a Christian organisation and registered charity which has been working in the farming community since 1995 offering pastoral care with a confidential helpline for farmers who are facing difficulties. Pictured with Canon Leslie Morley and Archdeacon Beverley are the Revd Elizabeth Clarke, National Rural Officer for the Methodist and URC Churches, and Graham Bulmer, a farmer in Rydale who volunteers with FCN.
“The Church is an integral part of the rural communities”, commented Beverley after the visit. “The Christian presence is one of hope and joy and of life, renewal and encouragement. It’s a very strong presence and in a world of busyness it’s about listening, and having time for people. They are spending time with people, listening and engaging with and walking live people. There is a recognition that needs are so varied – help with filling in onerous forms and dealing with red tape for example – and a recognition that this is a proud community and peopke aren’t always crying out for help but help is clearly needed in some areas.”
Clergy and church leaders in rural areas need encouragement and support to be out meeting the community, says Beverley. “Vicars can fall into the trap of being stuck behind their computers and we need to push that aside and get out so that we are seen and heard and we are walking our patches if we are really going to know what the problems are.
“We also need to enable new clergy and those moving to rural areas to grasp the issues, many of which are complex socio-economic issues.”