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Partnership for Urban Expression and Rural Ministries 

Two mission agencies with strong Baptist connections have formed a partnership that they hope will enhance their activities and provide opportunities for mutual learning and support

RuralUEcollage700Urban Expression, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, focuses on poor urban neighbourhoods and other marginalised communities.

Rural Ministries, established in 1962, is involved in many rural locations across the country and also prioritises areas of deprivation.

Both agencies are committed to careful research, deep listening, long-term ministry and creative church planting. Despite their different contexts, there are shared values and approaches to mission.

Partnership will enable these mission agencies to transcend the binary opposition of ‘urban’ and ‘rural’, share experience and resources, and respond more effectively to changing and complex demographics, according to Stuart Murray Williams, a national coordinator of Urban Expression.

He added, 'Marginality, economic deprivation and opportunities for creative approaches to church and mission are not limited to the urban contexts in which Urban Expression has operated for many years.

'We look forward to learning from the experience of Rural Ministries and exploring ways of working together in communities that have both rural and urban characteristics.'

Baptist minister Simon Mattholie, Rural Ministries chief executive, also spoke of the ways the two mission agencies can learn from each other.

He said, 'Over the past several years at Rural Ministries, we have been intentionally orientating our work and support around those who are pioneering in mission within the rural context. We believe that the current climate and culture affords us a period of extreme challenge as well as extraordinary opportunity.

'In seeking to face these challenges and maximise the opportunities, partnering with Urban Expression and drawing on their insight and approach was an obvious step to take. We share their passion to see people encounter Christ and continue on their journey with Him, but also recognise that for many the inherited church is no longer a natural place to explore faith.

'Our missional listening project draws on many similar principles already employed by Urban Expression, and we share a desire to see models of mission which are both authentic and contextually relevant.

'We are excited by what God is doing, and look forward to all that God will do as we work closer together.'

For further information or to explore the possibility of joining the mission initiatives of either agency, please contact Simon Mattholie (simon@ruralministries.org.uk) or Rachel Jay (rachel@urbanexpression.org.uk).

Baptist Times, 15/02/2018
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