Building Conversations Conference

The Growing the Rural Church (GtRC) 2018 day conference will explore how rural churches can use their buildings creatively to support their mission and better serve their communities.  Through keynote speakers, workshops and plenary sessions, this inspiring and practical day will provide opportunities to hear and discuss the experiences of churches and partner organisations focused on community engagement and mission in rural areas.  While GtRC is a Church of England project, we want to take this opportunity to share our learning ecumenically and to learn from others, and so we welcome church leaders (lay and ordained) and professionals from all denominations.

Wednesday 31st October 2018
The Welcome Centre, 47 Parkside, Coventry, CV1 2HG
Tickets: £40, including lunch and refreshments

Keynote Speakers

The Rt Revd Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, Bishop of Ripon
Bishop Helen-Ann joined the Diocese of Leeds as Bishop of Ripon in 2018, having previously served as Bishop of Waikato in New Zealand.  Prior to this, she was the Director of Biblical Studies and a lecturer in the New Testament at Ripon College, Cuddesdon. Having begun her ministry working as one of a team ministering to 12 rural parishes in Oxfordshire, Bishop Helen-Ann brings a breadth of rural experience.

Revd Claire Maxim, CEO of Germinate: The Arthur Rank Centre
Claire is the new CEO of Germinate: The Arthur Rank Centre, an ecumenical charity that seeks to help rural churches and communities across the UK to flourish.  Formerly Rector of a small town on the edge of Salisbury Plain, she is passionate about rural ministry and wants to help rural churches to be confident in who they are and what they do.


Choose two of the following four workshops when booking:

Lay Learning Communities in Rural Areas: Mission Sheds (Revd Barry Dugmore, Mission Enabler, Diocese of Exeter)
Started in Devon two years ago, Mission Sheds are a network of local resource hubs facilitating, providing and growing local learning communities for lay or ordained leaders and teams. Key to Mission Sheds is the local delivery of training and resourcing, with the learning agenda shaped by the local context. This workshop will share the story of Mission Sheds, how they are encouraging rural mission, and what we are learning from this approach.

Community Enterprises in Rural Church Buildings (The Ven. Douglas Dettmer, Archdeacon of Totnes and Member of the Rural Affairs Group; Max Jeffery, Stir to Action; and Marian Carson, Growing the Rural Church Project Manager)
Stir to Action is a not-for-profit organisation which specialises in supporting the development of community enterprise initiatives.  This workshop is an opportunity to consider the theology of enterprise and to hear stories highlighting the opportunities and challenges of developing social enterprise projects in rural church buildings.

Stories on the Street: A Tool for Community Engagement (Shirwell Mission Community and Mosaic Creative)
  Mosaic Creative is a small training consultancy specialising in community development, with a passion for seeing the church be relevant to its community.  Based on international resources, Stories on the Street helps UK churches to engage with and work alongside their communities to bring transformation. Shirwell Mission Community’s Rector, Rev’d Rosie Austin, saw the amazing fruits of this process on a visit to Exeter’s link diocese of Thikka, Kenya, in 2016 and, with GtRC’s support, was inspired ot bring it to Devon.  This workshop is an opportunity to hear Shirwell’s story and experience a little of this fantastic resource for churches wishing to engage and work with their communities.

Joined up Thinking: Working Together to Resource Rural Churches (Revd Jon Marlow, Mission and Ministry Development Team Leader, Diocese of Exeter)
The Diocese of Exeter’s aspiration is for churches to have access to integrated support from our Mission and Ministry Department as they live out our vision to Grow in Prayer, Make New Disciples and Serve the People of Devon with Joy.  Our Mission and Ministry Development Advisers work alongside parishes, liaising closely with each other and with other staff, so that they are offered appropriate support at the right time – in rural parishes, this includes drawing in the GtRC team. Through discussion and case studies, this workshop provides an opportunity to think about ways of breaking down silo-mentality working so that rural churches get the right support at the right time.


Tickets £40 (+ £3.71 booking fee), to include refreshments and lunch.
Book online via Eventbrite.

Please don’t hesitate to contact the Growing the Rural Church Team by e-mail ( or telephone (01392 294 907) for further information or help.

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