The Peak Park Rural Enabler is a unique role which Deacon Lorraine Brown has embraced and is creating a Christian presence and engagement between the church and the rural communities in the Peak National Park.
Within the Park, there are Methodist Churches in three circuits and across three districts, plus several URC and Anglican Churches in multiple dioceses. Lorraine's role is working at a very practical level across all the boundaries defined by denominations for enhancing Christian presence within the Peak Park.
There are several projects running including:
The Methodist Chapel at Tissington is open 24/7 and receives thousands of visitors each year. The village is particularly known for the "Well Dressing" tradition, where people decorate the wells in the village. During Well Dressing, around 35,000 people visit each week.
Thanks to money gifted to the chapel, it's now been modernized to include facilities whilst keeping its traditional elements. Working with the chapel stewards and local folk a Pilgrimage has been developed. The Pilgrim starts at the chapel and journeys around the six wells and Parish Church, pausing at each for a guide reflection using Christian stories and verse. The pilgrimage booklet is available free of charge in the Chapel. Donations are accepted.
In Beresford Dale a Care Farm has been created on a farm owned by a local Christian family with the intention of helping build self-esteem, improve social engagement and promote practical skills in young people who for many reasons are struggling in education or in life generally. The Care Farm is called Lowberdale Farm. It is now a registered charity and is seeking new connections to recruit young people who may benefit through attendance
A community garden has been created at Townend Methodist Church, Chapel-en-le-Frith. This rural church wanted to stay alive and thrive, so it pushed its mission outward and turned a paddock which was rarely used at the rear of the church into a thriving community garden.
The garden which is run by Mary Craner began to really gain momentum during lockdown. The local community joined with the church to create the garden. It provided much needed exercise, an outdoor space for people to gather and also locally grown food which is regularly shared.
At the of 2021 Mary said: "Well, this week is the last week of our gardening year, and what a year it has been! Our group of volunteers continues to grow, and the work done this year has been tremendous! So much sowing, planting, growing, mowing, picking, tidying, donating....... and on top of that, refitting the shed, building cold frames, compost bins, greenhouse base.... but most important of all, we've supported individuals and groups- pupils from the primary and high school, Girls Brigade, Brownie and Beaver groups, individuals with learning disabilities and mental wellbeing issues, and not forgetting the wonderful support we show for each other."
The Hub at Hope reached out to residents and visitors to the Peak Park through many family accessible outside activities including cycling and hiking. The hub started out with 5 people who met on a Sunday morning, enjoyed a breakfast together then rode together. During lockdown this has grown to around 35 regular members and funding has been secured for a Pioneer Minister to work at The Hub for the next three years. Revd. Jonathan Brook has been working hard to attract more families and has introduced children's activities such as den building, messy church and forest church. The members of the group stay connected via What's App and have created a real community who not only enjoy outdoor activities but also allows for scripture to be discussed and explore God in creation.
Barber Booth Chapel at Edale has been active for over 200 years and thanks to a major renovation project it is being restored to its former glory. Local people joined together to save the chapel for years to come by improving facilities such as a toilet and a kitchen space, and making it a more useable space for all, whilst maintaining its original character.
The chapel offers 12 services a year, and the congregation is growing with more families attending events. The doors are open to walkers or those wishing to drop in on Tuesdays and Fridays as renovation permits.
There are more exciting plans ahead for the Peak Park so watch this space for more information.
If you would like to be in touch with Deacon Lorraine Brown, you can do so by emailing her on firstname.lastname@example.org