In July 2012 the Archbishop of Canterbury offered to support the vision for a rural House of Prayer in Bewcastle, based on the model of the early Anglo-Saxon minster that used to exist at Bewcastle, to explore a possible future for the rural church. Back then the vision was for a 100+ acre farm. The reality is now a 6-acre smallholding!
But Lambeth Palace has decided to back the vision at the smaller scale, recognising the difficulties of raising sufficient funds for the larger project, and this month a cheque arrived through the post.
So now we have real support both from the Archbishop and our Diocesan Bishop for a project that lies outside the official structures of the Church of England, but that is seeking a future for rural ministry in a post-parish context. It is an interesting position to be in, both in terms of responsibility and freedom to explore a new but ancient way of being church.