St Basil inspires new rural church plant on a farm in Devon
The Church of England is planning a new rural church plant on a farm in Devon.
The vision is for St Basil’s is to become a centre for spiritual renewal, innovative creativity and “redemptive entrepreneurship”.
The church will be led by the Reverend Pete James, who was licensed by the Bishop of Exeter for his new role on 15 July.
Pete, 33, grew up in Devon and studied at Exeter University.
He has recently moved back to the county with his family after spending 10 years working at Kings Cross Church (KXC) in London and training for ordination.
Pete said: “Although I loved my time in London I have felt a gravitational pull to Devon and a deep love for the people here.
“I have a real sense of calling to the South West and I couldn’t be more excited about moving back.”
Pete said the name St Basil’s had been inspired by the fourth century bishop, St Basil the Great of Caesarea (in modern-day Turkey).
“St Basil was one of the earliest Christian social entrepreneurs and he had a real reliance on the power of prayer and the Holy Spirit,” he said.
“He bought a farm on the outskirts of the city to feed people during a famine, he set up a hospital there, a hospice and an orphanage.
“It became known as the Basiliad, a place of monastic prayer, feeding people, teaching trades and breaking the cycle of poverty.”
Pete said he hoped the new St Basil’s community, which will be based on a farm near Tedburn St Mary and Dunsford, would become a similar centre of “prayer and worship, home-coming hospitality, deep discipleship and compassion-centric entrepreneurship,”
“Our deepest hope is to see people come to know Jesus for the first time and for the area to be renewed by the love of God as we compassionately, courageously and creatively serve people in the power of the Holy Spirit,” he said.
The project is a church plant from KXC church in London and Exeter Network Church and is being supported by the Diocese of Exeter and overseen by the Bishop of Crediton.
A consultation with other local churches is currently underway with a view to it being designated a new church under a Bishop’s Mission Order (BMO).
The Reverend Martin Wood, whose North Kenn Mission Community St Basil’s will be in, said “We are very pleased to welcome Pete James into our mission community.
“The church plant of St Basil’s offers an exciting opportunity to develop a new church in the rural community. It offers a different expression of church in a new context.
Work in progress
That sense of expectation at trying something new was echoed by the Reverend Ruth Frampton, Priest-in-Charge of the neighbouring Teign Valley & Haldon Hill Mission Community.
“It is exciting that such a “new creation” will offer an extra dimension to our Christian mission and ministry, helping to spread the Good News of God’s love and serve the people of Devon,” she said.
The Bishop of Crediton, the Right Reverend Jackie Searle, said, “I really want to welcome Pete to the Diocese of Exeter.
“This will be a different way of doing church based on a desire to see rural communities flourishing as places of faith for all ages.
“It will sit alongside the great work already being done by our rural churches.
“I’m excited by Pete’s vison for St Basil’s and his desire to serve local people and make a difference in their lives, particularly at this time.”
The St Basil’s project is in its early stages and Pete and a team of volunteers will spend the summer and autumn developing it before it opens its doors.
You can follow the progress of St Basil’s here