Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Festival spirituality, mission and ministry

I’m speaking tomorrow at the National Uniting Church Rural Ministry Conference, at Barmera, which is about 3 hours drive north of Adelaide, in the Riverlands.

My topic is festival spirituality. It’s a significant development of some ideas I sketched in my The Out of Bounds Church?: Learning to Create a Community of Faith in a Culture of Change. I will begin by looking at Old Testament patterns of gathering and how it relates to worship, mission, community and interconnection. I will then do a drive by of a number of articles from Rural Theology, contemporary research on belonging and participation, along with research into current festival patterns in the UK.

Here’s my conclusion.

I have wanted to engage with two problems. First, the perception of Christianity as urban, a move which can downplay the vitality of rural ministry. Second, the perception of church as building, geographic and Vicar led.

I have deployed the Old Testament to suggest different modes of gathering, around sacred sites, on pilgrimage, in festivals, around tables. I would suggest these are more congruent with the needs of rural folk, in current patterns of belonging, in ways of participation and the existence already of festivals.

Finally, two examples have been provided, which show current examples of rural churches embracing these new/old forms. My suggestion is that these patterns are more likely to be life-giving for a rural church. Rather than a weekly habit, they provide ways to participate in the rhythm of a community, to embrace sense of place and to offer spirituality for the road trips so integral to rural life.

It should be a fun day.

Posted by steve at 09:37 PM

4 Comments

  1. This sounds very interesting and paralles some of the work that I’m pursuing within the Appalachian region of America. I’m particularly sympathetic with your concern regardining the predeliction for an urban Christianity.

    Would you be willing to share some of the articles on rural theology that you’re planning on using?

    Best of luck with the presentation!

    Comment by Scott McDaniel — April 10, 2013 @ 12:44 am

  2. Scott,

    Thanks for dropping by. I’d love to hear more about your work. I hope that this will become a journal article, so you can then read the whole thing, but in terms of your question – here are the articles I’m using today –

    Sue Pegg and Lewis Burton, “Local Festivals in two Pennine villages: the reactions of the local Methodist church congregations.” Rural Theology 4 (1), 11-22, 2006

    Charlotte L Craig, “Research report: Psychological type preference of rural churchgoers,” Rural Theology 3 (2), 2005

    Francis, L.J., Robbins, M., & Craig, C.L. (2011). The psychological type profile of Anglican churchgoers in England: Compatible or incompatible with their clergy? International Journal of Practical Theology, 15, 243-259

    Rolph, Rolph and Cole, Methodist Fresh Expressions: Listening to Leaders of Specific Rural Initiatives in England” Rural Theology 9.2 (2011)

    David Walker, “The Social significance of Harvest Festivals in the countryside: an empirical enquiry among those who attend,” Rural Theology 7 (1), 3-16, 2009

    Leslie J Francis and Sue Pegg, “Psychological type profile of volunteer workers in a rural Christian charity shop” Rural Theology 5 (1), 53-56, 2007

    David Walker, “Belonging to rural church and society: theological and religious perspectives,” Rural Theology 4, 85-97, 2006

    Hope that helps, Steve

    Comment by steve — April 10, 2013 @ 7:41 am

  3. [...] Steve Taylor recently lead a session at the National Rural Ministry Conference in Barmera, SA. The session was exploring Festival Spirituality and other ways that people in the Hebrew Scriptures would gather as faith community, worship or participate as a member of a community of faith. [...]

    Pingback by Pilgrimage Spirituality | Digital Orthodoxy — May 9, 2013 @ 1:22 am

  4. [...] Steve Taylor recently lead a session at the National Rural Ministry Conference in Barmera, SA. The session was exploring Festival Spirituality and other ways that people in the Hebrew Scriptures would gather as faith community, worship or participate as a member of a community of faith. [...]

    Pingback by Table Spirituality | Digital Orthodoxy — May 29, 2013 @ 1:12 am

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