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Church needed to fill gap left by end of Commission for Rural Communities

A leading Professor in Social Renewal says the Church has a vital role to play both locally and nationally in lobbying on rural disadvantage, with the closure of the Government's Commission for Rural Communities at the end of this month.

Professor Mark Shucksmith, who will give the General Synod's Rural Affairs Group Lecture this afternoon, said that in his view the Church can and should play a vital role, challenging people in rural communities to act in accordance with Christian values. He said that showing leadership, and preaching neighbourliness in action through social justice and compassion, will prove a vital lifeline for rural communities, where housing is generally unaffordable for people on local wages.

He said that the Church could also have an important role in lobbying at national level for action to address rural disadvantage - especially important after the Commission for Rural Communities is abolished on 31st March.

Professor Shucksmith, Director of the Institute for Social Renewal at Newcastle University added that the Church may also be able to make a practical contribution through its land and buildings, along with the time and commitment of their members.

His presentation to the Rural Affairs Group is entitled:  "Is an exclusive countryside inevitable?"

The Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Revd Anthony Priddis, a member of the Rural Affairs Group said: "I fully welcome this encouragement for the Church to continue to engage and speak out on issues affecting our rural communities. We face many of these issues in my own diocese of Hereford and this is a stark reminder for us all to take action."

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Notes 
More information on the Commission for Rural Communities http://www.defra.gov.uk/crc/