Rural and Coastal

There are particular challenges, as well as joys and opportunities, for people living in rural and coastal areas of the diocese. The Farming Community Network, Fishermen’s Mission, Devon Churches Rural Forum, Growing The Rural Church, and national church sites are all featured below.

Please explore this page to access resources for your church or community, to get or signpost others to specific support, and to find volunteering opportunities – all especially relevant in this Covid-19 period and aftermath.

Farming Community Network (FCN) is a national Christian charity that supports farmers, workers and their families through difficult times: common issues include financial difficulties, animal disease, mental health and family disputes.

  • Their volunteers are often involved in farming, or have close links with agriculture, and therefore have good understanding
  • They provide free, confidential, pastoral and practical support to anyone who seeks help, regardless of whether the issue is personal or business-related, and ‘walk with‘ people for as long as needed. They are active in Devon –
  • FCN also runs a confidential helpline and e-helpline, open 7am-11pm every day: 03000 111 999 /
  • Volunteers are always sought for local roles in their casework, helpline, fundraising, chaplaincy – see here if interested!

April 2020 update:

  • Email & phone helplines still operational, though visits are currently suspended.
  • is a new website launched by FCN for the Covid-19 period and aftermath, “a one stop resource to help you and your farm business stay strong and resilient”.
  • Don’t forget the importance of buying locally – search online for direct deliveries of local veg / meat boxes etc.

The Fishermen’s Mission is another Christian charity that “provides emergency support alongside practical, financial, spiritual and emotional care. We help all fishermen, active or retired, and their families.”

As with FCN, the Fishermen’s Mission works nationally, with local bases of paid staff and volunteers.

April 2020 update:

  • Face to face support currently mainly suspended, but most services are still operating remotely.
  • See here for new Covid-19 information and links.
  • Don’t forget the importance of buying locally if you eat fish – search online for direct deliveries.

Devon Churches Rural Forum is an ecumenical group, open to church leaders and members, farmers, academics and all! It’s chaired by the Archdeacon of Barnstaple, with huge voluntary input particularly from Revd Penny Body as Secretary. Members also include representatives from the Farmers Community Network, Mothers Union and the W.I.

The group meets quarterly in Cheriton Bishop, with recent lead talks from the Chief Constable and police leads on modern slavery and social isolation, university professors on food and farming, and the Anglican National Rural Officer; individual and partnership updates are shared. The Forum also arranges farm visits around the county, and workshops (eg on rural worship / ministry). Its website has a wealth of resources, including:

  • Details of Forum meetings with detailed minutes & links
  • What’s On – news of conferences, workshops, shows, events
  • Models of rural ministry, liturgies, worship resources, book reviews
  • Directory of church-based social activities, and funding sources
  • Farming briefings for churches
  • Information on rural social and economic affairs, including updated news and resources relating to Covid-19
  • Sign up to informative mailing list: / Twitter:

The Arthur Rank Centre is a national ecumenical charity supporting Christians, churches and communities through many of the joys and  challenges of rural life. Its website has brilliant resources and ideas for worship and mission. It produces a magazine, runs a Rural Ministry Course, a leadership training programme, and a conference.

Growing The Rural Church is a Diocese of Exeter project that works with rural mission communities to develop their resources, and in particular their church buildings, to enable them to grow in prayer, make new disciples and serve the people of Devon with joy.

The Church of England’s Rural webpages contain further resources on church growth, church care, community action, digital action, evangelism, finance, PCCs, prayer, disability, etc.