Faith in the Peak-Deacon Lorraine Brown
As Peak Park Rural Development Enabler (PPRDE), my work takes me across the three districts that cover the Peak Park,Sheffield, Manchester and Stockport, Nottingham and Derby. This can mean a fair amount of driving, but that also provides some wonderful opportunities to marvel at the changing scenery from quarries and factory to undisturbed creation, from managed farmland to ancient moorland. Old cottages and caves that were once used for habitation alongside the tents and caravans of today’s visitors. Just as each area has its own uniqueness, so I am reminded that ministry within a rural environment may need to be different and varied.
One area of my work calls me to be involved with the villages of Earl Sterndale and Monyash. Both these villages can tell the story of the Methodist chapel existing by a faithful few who continue to hold the Christ Light in their community, despite their small numbers.
Within both these little chapels, was a vision to reach beyond the ‘traditional’ church and minister through a Messy church once a month.
This different church has a way of sharing scriptural knowledge to both children and adults at the same time. It also offers hospitality and care to the families of that community.
Having never been a children’s worker I had to learn from others and learn on my feet too! Whilst I can honestly say I had no idea of what I was in for – my goodness what a lot of joy is found when children from families that do not attend church begin to tell me about Jesus and the importance of being kind and of caring for each other. What joy is found when very young children actively support each other when they need a bit of help. Or the joy seen when parents – frazzled tired mums are nurtured by others in the same place. This is where we should be, in a community sharing the Jesus story so that changes can happen in the immediate everyday life. What joy is found when you realise by opening the church doors once a month and welcoming people in, a small community – a kingdom community is beginning to form.
The challenge is to look beyond the scenery we expect, to be prepared to see something different. If we can imagine ourselves beyond the one hour on a Sunday, and if we are prepared to step out of a comfort zone, well – God is waiting.
Deacon Lorraine Brown
I am pleased to be able to introduce myself as Deacon Lorraine Brown, The Peak Park Rural Development Enabler.
My role as Peak Park Rural Development Enabler (PPRDE) covers three districts, Manchester and Stockport, Sheffield and Nottingham and Derby.
I work with mainly small rural churches within the Peak Park. Together we explore “What does it mean to be church in this context” and from that exploration, we work out how as members of the church we can respond. It is an exciting role that can lead to new developments.
Here are just some of the projects I am currently working:
A small village church now has increasing numbers of youngsters through establishing Messy Church and is exploring setting up a group for the older children. Occasionally this all overflows into a family friendly Sunday too.
A little chapel that holds just 6 services a year is exploring ways of using its heritage as mission. We have formed a group of people to look at further development of the building, specifically in light of it being a high tourist area. We are doing this in partnership with the local parish church and with the local historical society.
A farmer, his family and friends are in the process of establishing a care farm as a specific outworking of their Christian faith. They wish to support young people who are facing difficulties in life. They will do this through farming and the natural environment.
The pilgrimage around Tissington village has proved to be popular with locals and tourists, individuals and groups. In order to explore its transferable nature, I have been working with a Deacon in Yorkshire and together we have written a pilgrimage for Malham Dale too. The pilgrimage booklet is available in Tissington Methodist Church or from lulu.com and search Tissington Pilgrimage or by clicking on the book below.
I have been supporting a circuit undertaking a review to consider the impact and efficiency of being church in their circuit.
I am working with a small village, where the Methodist Chapel is now the only active Christian presence in the village, so we are reconsidering our calling to serve the village.
I meet with a group of ecumenical ministers within the Peak Park and together we learn about different examples of ecumenical working in rural areas across the country. Our aim is for information and discussion to inspire our work.
As you can see, it is quite a varied role, and exciting to see God at work in so many places too.
I would be delighted to meet with you, talk and worship with you, or even work with you. You can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org