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Church launches all-Wales rural group

Posted on: June 5, 2014 11:55 AM
Revd Richard Kirlew, National Lead on Rural Affairs for the Church in Wales
Photo Credit: Church in Wales
Related Categories: rural life, Wales

[Church in Wales] From the price of milk to school closures – the challenges of rural life will be the focus of a new group being launched by the Church in Wales this week.

The Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, John Davies, will launch the Church’s Provincial Rural Group on Friday (June 6) at the Royal Welsh Showground.

The group, made up of clergy rural advisers and lay people from across Wales, will advise on the particular challenges of rural ministry and flag up issues in rural life so that wider action can be taken – whether that’s reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, the price of milk to the farmer or petrol at the pump, threatened closure of schools and disappearing bus-services.  High on the agenda of many who live in rural Wales is also the issue of poor DAB and even FM radio signals and the absence of access to decent broadband speeds.

Bishop John, who will chair the new group, said, “Whilst the farming and other land-based industries that – literally – shaped the Welsh landscape no longer dominate the economy and provide work as they once did, 82% of Wales remains rural in character.  60% of the country is classified as ‘deep rural’ – which means a community of no more than 180 households, lacking such things as a shop, Post Office, petrol station, cash-point, or even a bus stop – and is at least 30 minutes’ drive away from a larger settlement.  In many villages, the church is the only community facility remaining, and the contribution that the church makes to community life is vital. 

“This new group will provide a base for the Church to reflect and act on rural matters and help us build a close working relationship with the Rural Department of the Welsh Government and other key organisations, such as farmers unions and local community councils to identify areas of common concern in rural areas. It will also help us raise the profile of rural issues in public life and we hope to work with other Christian denominations and voluntary organisations as we seek to keep rural issues high on various agendas.” 

The Provincial Rural Group will be made up of the Church in Wales’s six rural life advisers – one from each diocese – and six lay people, again representing each diocese. The launch takes place at the International Pavilion from 12-2pm with representatives from rural and political organisations.