I have been remembering on of my favourite assignments from University this week, to develop a seminar around the title ‘Articulate an effective rural mission policy for contemporary Britain.’ What a title!
As a third year Uni student, I had by this point read some theological books (probably 4 in there full entirety and two of these where on Rural Mission. Bonus! Not only that the context in which I lived, had lived and hoped to continue living was that of a Rural nature.
I remember clearly saying that I felt those involved in rural mission, and rural churches had a more difficult time than those who worked in Urban situations – I was trying to be provocative to get a good discussion and therefore better marks.
So why have I returned to think about this assignment in particular. I have been thinking about the context I now live in. I do not live in an Urban context, it does come under one of the three Rural classifications (Town and Fringe in case you where wondering). For me this is probably the closest Urban I have ever been.
What does that mean for me though. I live in a town that I would say has two main incomes, tourism and mussel fishing. I have never lived in a town where during off peak seasons high street shops will close completely or cut down their opening hours, that’s if they manage to stay in the high street at all. The busiest day of the week is a Saturday and most visitors to the area will be found walking around the historical walls or visting the smallest house. Out of the four museums, two close till the end of this month. The Pubs have only really been filled with local people, a situation that is currently changing, and those who live permanently in caravans parks are beginning to return after the brief closure.
What does it mean for a Church to do mission in an area where those in the area changes week to week? What would it mean for tourists to have access to a local church that treats them like family? How do you work both with those who live here all year round and just for two weeks when its less likely to rain? What would Jesus do?
I suppose I shall find out. I will let you know at the end of the Summer?
If anyone knows of any written work on mission in a tourist area or on the coast then please let me know.