Helping Rural Communities
Helping Rural Communities
Ian Leverington | Executive Officer, Anglican Community Fund
A little bit of down time in the New Year allowed me to catch up on some long overdue filing. During this I came across my notes from the Diocese of Perth’s 2019 Synod that reminded me of a highlight of that Synod being the Rural Conference held on the Sunday morning.
It was a pleasure to hear a presentation from The Revd Dr Brian Ludlow who attended the Rural Ministry Conference held in Bendigo in September 2019. Brian provided a summary of the conference including five common themes faced in rural ministry and importantly how the challenges are being faced with optimism and enthusiasm.
During the presentation, I could not help but think about how the Anglican Community Fund can assist rural parishes. At the end of the presentation I was grateful to have the opportunity to mention to the Rural Conference how the ACF might help with the key themes.
Distance (a factor of geography)
Isolation is an important factor in rural communities. The ACF is only a phone call away and with our small team we provide personalised and friendly service. There are no separate departments or call centres to contend with.
Depopulation (a factor of mechanisation)
With depopulation comes the inevitable withdrawal of Bank’s from regional areas. While the ACF can’t have a physical presence, we do provide electronic transaction services, contact by phone and email. In locations not serviced by our banking partner Westpac, we can discuss alternatives with you.
Small Congregations (a factor of smaller rural communities and ageing congregations)
This is a difficult issue although it was noted that only 6-7% of ‘nominal’ Anglicans engage with Church worship. To me this means that there is a much larger base of Anglicans that while they are not regular worshipers, may still attend occasionally such as at Christmas and Easter. They will give when they attend and may be happy to give regularly to support the mission of the parish by using the ACF’s direct debit facility. This regular electronic giving may encourage greater connection and worshipping at the parish.
Funding (less people, same or greater costs of infrastructure)
The ACF can assist with reducing climate impact and energy costs by funding energy efficiency projects such as solar energy, lighting upgrades for Church property by using our low interest ‘Eco Loan’.
We can also provide funding for clergy motor vehicles for vehicle upgrades to reduce costs such as maintenance and running costs.
Suitability of Buildings (changing centres of population)
The cost of replacement buildings, upgrades and major maintenance may be spread over time using a loan provided by the ACF. Our loans are competitive and we don’t charge establishment fees or ongoing fees.
While the ACF can’t solve the challenges of rural ministry we hope to be of support and be part of the optimism and enthusiasm of Anglican rural ministry.