In a few days I am off to the Trans Tasman Rural Conference 2008, being hosted in our neck of the woods, Marlborough and Nelson, New Zealand.
I love rural ministry. I have not been a country vicar but I spent part of my formative years in a country vicarage. In my one and only parish as a vicar I was in a (so to speak) rural service town, Blenheim, in the heart of Marlborough with its mix of traditional NZ farming and burgeoning vineyards. In my present role I have often preached in small country churches and engaged in various seminars and forums with rural issues.
So I am looking forward to this conference. In particular I am looking for confirmatory evidence of my thesis that the future of the church in Australia and New Zealand is as much dependent on outstanding rural ministry and mission as it is on the same featuring in the cities.
One thing I really appreciate in the Diocese of Nelson is the strength of our rural ministry (out of 26 parishes, 23 include farms or orchards or vineyards or other rural means of making a living).
Report back soon.