Churches have been told they should consider setting up farmers’ markets as a new way of reaching out to rural communities.
Mission-shaped and Rural: Growing churches in the countryside, published last week by the Church of England, suggested that churches in the countryside should consider new forms of ministry.
Author Sally Gaze, team rector for a number of parishes in Norfolk, said the Church needed to increase the use of its buildings for purposes other than services.
“It is true to say that many rural church buildings, which are seen as problematic, could be used more creatively,” she said. “Less than half of all rural parish churches are used for activities other than Sunday worship.”
WOULD IT WORK?
A weekly farmers’ market is already held at St Giles’ Church, Shipbourne, Kent. The market was opened as a way of responding to the government’s rural White Paper in 2000.
The number of customers varies from week to week, but averages 150. The hosting of the market is an act of service from which the church makes no money. All profits are divided between farming charities in the UK and the developing world.