Book Review – Changing Rural Life

Changing Rural Life: A Christian Response to Life and Work in the CountrysideThis new book addresses a number of different themes facing rural life, which we are assured is changing in particular and distinctive ways. Drawing together essays by many contributors, the editors attempt to stimulate reflection on the rural economy, the environment and community issues.

Of particular interest is a chapter by the Most Rev Bruce Cameron, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church who writes about the particular experience of isolated communities. This leads into a description of local collaborative ministry as a process by which ‘…“being church” is transformed from a community gathered round its priest to being “ministering” communities exploring and putting into practise the ministry of the baptized.’

If only we could untangle the idea of every member ministry from our need to review the patterns and structures of ordained ministry. Perhaps then we could all agree what local collaborative ministry is and subsequently agree on whether or not we think it is a good thing. Only after such a period of reflection will the church be able to ask the questions about deployment of resources which seem so often to be behind the LCM projects. However, this chapter does provide a helpful insight into Bruce Cameron’s Local Collaborative Ministry. Whether this is the same as everyone else’s Local Collaborative Ministry remains to be seen.

Also in the book are contributions from John Saxbee on the urban use of the countryside, John Olive on biodiversity, James Jones on eating well and Richard Clarke on globalisation and local autonomy. Rowan Williams provides a thoughtful afterword bringing the collection to a close.

Changing Rural Life: A Christian Response to Life and Work in the Countryside