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Bishop of Exeter to help save village churches: 'rural life is at a turning point'

The Bishop of Exeter, Rt Rev Robert Atwell has pledged his support to help rural churches grow and modernise. 

Bishop Robert has launched an online resources to help countryside churches "thrive and grow". 

Growing the Rural Church (GtRC) started in 2017, funded by the Church of England's Strategic Development Fund, but is now re-launching to cater for the needs of a post-pandemic world.

Bishop Robert said "For centuries, our village churches have been at the heart of our communities and now rural life is at a turning point with people rediscovering the 'gift of local'.

"A healthy church is a sign of a healthy society and the Growing the Rural Church team is here to help with that."

The online hub will offer support to help plan projects, apply for grants, work with local communities, get help with building maintenance, plan special events and make the most of church festivals.

Sarah Cracknell, the project manager, said "When the pandemic hit, we couldn't operate as before, going out to meet church groups face to face. 

"We realised that offering support online would enable us to offer the same advice and guidance to a much greater number of rural churches.

"Also, we can connect churches in similar situations with each other through the webinars, so they can work together more easily."

The project will also help rural churches explore innovative uses for their buildings such as community work hubs during the week for people working from home.

"We want to the help churches which see they need to change in order to survive, grow and thrive," Cracknell said.

"This will give churches the essential building blocks to be sustainable, but it also has a lot of creative ideas for 'risk taking' and growth," she continued. 

To find out more about Growing the Rural Church click here.

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