For this week’s film, we travelled to Nidderdale in the Ripon Episcopal Area to find out about ministry in some of our more rural areas as part of our year long campaign to tell the story of all that we are and all that we do, here in the Diocese of Leeds.
In the unspoilt rural cobbled village of Middlesmoor, eight miles out of Pateley Bridge, it was nothing short of a miracle when they were given the funds to erect an internet transmitter on top of the local church of St Chad’s as part of a wider project of connectivity across the Nidderdale Valley.
And for farmer and churchwarden, Stuart Ramsden, it has truly changed his life allowing him to check the weather, prices, sales and do his banking online. And he is not the only one who benefits from broadband connectivity. The nearest supermarket is one hour away – online shopping has made many people’s lives in the dale easier.
The vicar of Upper Nidderdale and Area Dean of Ripon, the Revd Darryl Hall, explains: “The internet repeater installed in St Chad's is working really well. I know some farmers appreciate it because they can check the weather regularly, check the cattle and sheep prices, and are able to do their supermarket shop online."
The present Grade 2 listed church of St Chad’s dates from 1866, but there has been a church there since earliest times. Inside the church is an old preaching cross which legend says St Chad preached near. Ecumenical working is key in many parts of our more rural areas and St Chad’s celebrates what has affectionately become known as a monthly ‘Methlican Service,’ a joint Anglican and Methodist service. This All Age Service has proven very popular with locals up and down the Dale.
There are also several services dedicated to rural and local traditions such as the Lambing Service in May and the Bell Festival in June. And in the winter months they have been fortunate enough to celebrate a Café Church service in the warmth of How Stean Gorge Café.
And while the internet connector is a true example of service, it’s the personal touch that makes all the difference for some of those living in the more isolated villages.
“But more than that, the internet enables me to stay in contact with people through social media which helps counter some of the rural isolation and loneliness issues we find out here,’ he said..
But nothing beats the personal touch and Darryl finds pastoral care is a high priority in his ministry here in this beautiful part of our diocese.