Saturday 28 February 2015

The Rural Church in Place - Bishop of Worcester, Ripon Cathedral, Craven and Methodist connections

A possibly wild primrose amongst the snowdrops
below Ripon Cathedral

Background note: Settle is in the newly formed Anglican Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales, which is divided into five areas. Settle is in the Ripon Area -- map.  Ripon Benthis 45 miles from Settle (38 miles the hilly route). Last week the Ripon Area put the Churches Together in Bentham Climate Change Lent Lunches on the front part of their website, and it also announced the important speakers at St Oswalds, Thornton in Lonsdale during Sundays of Lent at 9.30am.

Bishop John Inge

On the  evening 26  Feb I was at Ripon and I went to the first of the St Wilfred's Lectures at Ripon Cathedral in the  series  "Rural Life and Living: Challenges and Opportunities" It was given  by  Bishop John Inge of Worcester and his talk was entitled "The  Rural  Church  in  Place".   He  has  written  a  book called "A Christian Theology of Place".

My  idea  of "a sense of place" is..
"What rocks is the church built of?
What  flowers/lichens  grow  in  the  churchyard?.  (or in the cracks  in the pavement  if    there  is  no  churchyard)".
"What  are  the buildings/houses/people/dialect  like  surrounding  the  church and are there green hills in the background or skyscrapers?"

Well   it   wasn't   about  that..  But it was about many other topics including  about  people's uprootedness because they keep moving; And that we ought to use our churches for many things.  I will list a few good quotes lower down. You can read the short official report here

In  question time, Rev Ian Greenhalgh, vicar at Austwick and Claham, and Area Dean for the Bowland and Ewcross Deaneries, said how his four churches were kept  open  during  the  daytime. And how people enjoyed visiting the churches and the cemeteries.

My hand shot up.

And  as  the chairman had simultaneously been asking if there were any women who  would  like to ask questions, he gave me the chance to speak, and the microphone was fetched.

"If  you  come to Horton in Ribblesdale Church on the last Saturday of March I am  running  a  lichens workshop there." I said breathlessly. (O why do I talk  so  fast!)  And I brought out and held up my laminated lichens guide to Horton Churchyard... "And  I'm  doing  a  similar  workshop  on 20th June  in Ingleton  Churchyard  - They have  a  beautiful  book about the wildlfowers  of  Ingleton  churchyard.  And I've led a session on mosses at Giggleswick"   Come  out to our churchyards in the west of the diocese ans see our mosses and lichens."

Well people got the gist ..
And  now  I  shall  have  to  make sure there are some spare guides in Horton Church.

We  sang  Happy Birthday to the bishop, as his birthday was quite close and then ate his birthday cake with cups of tea afterwards. I gave him copies of the Biodiversity / Saving Wildlife/ Rainforest Leaflet. I also asked  the Dean if I could put up a few on the table beside the notice board, and he said "Yes"

Some notes made during the talk:

Scriptures  take  place seriously. "In my father's house there are many
mansions.. I am going to prepare a place for you"

Churches  stand  as  a  witness and can help those who are rootless to
find their place.

Someone  made  a  quote - we can look at a glass or we can see through
it to the world beyond.   Similarly   we   can  look  at  churches or see through them to
"heaven" beyond.

Churches  are expensive to keep - We get less money form the government than  any  other western country to look after our churches. There are 16,000  Anglican  Churches in Britain and 12,000 are listed buildings. 45%  of all listed buildings are places of worship. 925 million pounds are needed for their upkeep over the next 5 years.

Just as Christ's commandments to people are: Love  God  and  Love  your  neighbour,
so  this  should be applied to churches.  Many  churches  are  very  good  at  the first, and organise
services,  and  make  the place pious, but not always very good at the second.

The  churches  should  see  how they could serve the community more. The bishop quoted  one  church that  has  a village shop, several that have food banks.  Stannington  near  Morpeth has an IT centre. There has been a suggestion that churches should supply WIFI. We should think more about adaptation than preservation.

In many villages the church is the only community facility.


"Should   we  be  thinking  of sharing churches?" Asked Chairman of the York and Hull Methodist District, Stephen Burgess.

Revd Graham Carter gave the vote of thanks. He is former Chair of the Darlington District and was President of Methodist Conference in 2006. He wondered if we did sometimes fail to show people the glory beyond the church.. He said we should open our churches more to the community and let them come and treat it as their own.

When the Dean of Ripon, the Very Revd John Dobson, was introducing Bishop John at the beginning, he showed us the newly published "Growing God's Kingdom - a First Response to the Cathedral Consultation"

I liked the aspirations in the "Engaging with the issues and needs of the world."section:
  Developing and implementing a strategy for social justice  Reducing the impact our work has on God’s earth by reducing our carbon footprint.  To be known as a Cathedral that can speak with integrity on rural issues

In the "Promoting our Spiritual and Built Heritage" section there is an aspiration:  Developing the Cathedral as a Centre for Pilgrimage. I wonder if more interst could be given the wildlife around the Cathedral. As people have to come to the Cathedral from 60 miles, and more, away in the Diocese Area, getting to the cathedral is a pilgrimage in itself.  map. Perhaps more could be made of the wonderful walk in Ripon all along the River Skell. And Hurray for the Pilgrimage on Boxing Day to Fountains Abbey

Not so native Cyclamen - but very pretty.
I wonder if they come from Greece or maybe Turkey..

Children feeding t'ducks beside the  River Skell below the Cathedral

Lichens and Wild-flower events at Ingleton Church on 20 June 2015

Ingleton is a brilliant area for wildflowers because of the limestone, and to some extent because of the height above sea level.

Here are three fantastic events in Ingleton Church and Churchyard.
  1. In the morning you will be welcome to come to the Lichens Workshop - It is specially designed for beginners -

  2. and in the early evening to a walk round the churchyard to look at the wild flowers at 5.45 and see Doris Cairn's delightfully illustrated book on this theme

  3. followed by an illustrated talk on the special flowers of the Ingleton area at 6.30pm.
(In the afternoon you may wish to go to Ribblehead where there are activities for grownups and children in the Nature reserve with a mini-Bio-Blitz)..

Some of Doris's Pictures will be on view on Freday 19th June at 6.30-8.30pm at the "Meet the artist" Wine and Cheese Viewing at The Waterfalls Walk Cafe

I hope to see you at some of events 1 to 3 !!!