Rural Routes was born in my imagination as I worked with small congregations. More than once I’ve arrived on pastoral charges that had a history, sometimes very recent, of amalgamations or closures or both. Often there was pain, bitterness, heartache in the community. Often people drifted off into a life absent of church community. This is happening more and more and it is disturbing to me that there is a sense of fatalism about it. We imagine that to live as Gospel community, as God’s people, we have to look the way we used to. We believe that death is something to be ashamed of and so we fail to imagine what resurrection might come out of it. We wonder who will be the last to turn out the lights in the building without talking about what blessing we might bequeath when we are no longer alive in the shape we once had.
Rural Routes is a place to encourage one another as we reimagine life together in new shapes and sizes. It is a place to learn from one another, to talk with one another, to sing and eat and worship together in a community that gathers for three days each year. This is a community that can be yours whether your home congregation is full of energy or drawing its last breaths or even if it has passed from your sight. We can accompany one another. We can inspire one another.
While there is lots of information to be had at Rural Routes Through the Holy, formation is what we are about. We are being formed as a people of God whatever our circumstances. We explore the old and the new. We claim our own voices as experts in our own experience. We are together on the journey and Rural Routes Through the Holy is one shape that Gospel community takes. Who knows what together we may discover or create?