2018 Conference

The 2018 conference was a resounding success with nearly 100 delegates from all over the world. We will be adding materials and links to conference videos here over the coming weeks. See bottom of this page.


  • To inspire, encourage and equip rural lay and ordained leaders of churches worldwide in their mission and ministry.
  • Provide a forum for the international sharing of rural resources and launch a resource sharing web site.
  • Introduce learning communities as a tool for rural church development and provide materials to participating country groups to be adapted and used in-country.
  • To broaden the range of countries involved in IRCA and support existing country groups.
  • To raise the profile of the rural church.
  • To further build international fellowship and grow international and ecumenical partnerships.



  Sunday 15 April Monday 16 April Tuesday 17 April Wednesday 18 April Thursday 19 April Friday 20 April
0900 Worship – Oceania Worship – Africa Worship – Europe Worship – Asia Worship – America
0930 Coming together

Living and dreaming God’s vision for our world

Dr Rosemary Dewerse

Learning together 1

Introduction to learning communities

Workshop: Global trends and implications for the rural church

Learning together 2

Case studies: inspiring and thought provoking rural church case studies from different countries and contexts

Learning together 3

Workshop: Making it happen – communicating vision, working in partnership, releasing people and resources.

IRCA review and next steps
1045 Coffee / tea break Coffee / tea break Coffee / tea break Coffee / tea break Coffee / tea break
1115 Ministry together

Shared ministry: a way of being church at the heart of rural ministry?

Jenny Dawson

Country Groups:

What is?

Reviewing state of church, trends, challenges, needs, opportunities

Country Groups:

What could be?

“Merlin exercise”


Country Groups:

What will be?

Preparing action plans

Rural church resources: pooling knowledge of resources from delegates
12.00 Outing with packed lunch: Hororata area
1230 Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch
1330 Airport transfer if reqd

Delegates welcomed

Outing: Christchurch City Free time or group preparation Outing: Choice of Lincoln tours Free time or group preparation
1715 Powhiri then drinks reception Country group feedback Country group feedback Country group feedback and prayer
1830 Evening meal Evening meal Evening meal Evening meal Evening meal Celebration meal, presentations, commissioning prayer and poroporoaki.



Saturday 21 April: breakfast and depart.


1930 Introduction to:

  • conference team
  • NZ and Lincoln
  • programme

+ delegate icebreaker

Evening activity: music night Evening activity: NZ night Evening activity: Global Village (cultural items from different countries) Evening activity: reflections on ‘what I’m taking home’
2045 Prayers Prayers Prayers Prayers Prayers
2100 Close / free time Close / free time Close / free time Close / free time Close / free time


 Dr Rosemary Dewerse

Rosemary is a Kiwi wife and mother who, as part of her growing up, lived with her Presbyterian minister family on a farm in a parish with no town centre during days of deep crisis for the rural community in Aotearoa New Zealand. They were profoundly formative years and a youth group leader remains a mentor to this day. These days, having studied and worked in theological education in England, Central Asia and Australia, she is back in NZ training church leaders, designing for continuing education, supervising a range of doctoral projects, and researching in areas of missional church, intercultural engagement, indigenous spirituality, biblical interpretation and contextual theologies.

 Rev Jenny Dawson

Currently living in just north of Wellington, and working as a spiritual director, supervisor and consultant (see Facebook ‘Eccles Unlimited Consultancy’), Jenny is an Anglican priest who is also a storyteller, gardener, gym-goer, and lover of the South Island mountains.  She grew up amongst sheep in Darfield and is the granddaughter of Scots who came to NZ with the wool industry.  Decades of involvement in the ecumenical movement, both internationally (particularly with the Christian Conference of Asia) and in Aotearoa New Zealand, have formed in her a passion for the church in all its diversities and complexities.  This is expressed in the delight she takes in exploring models of church that are engaging, contextual and theologically sound, for the twenty-first century.

 Jerry Marshall

Jerry is Chair of IRCA and until recently the CEO of Germinate: The Arthur Rank Centre, the UK churches’ rural resource unit. He is an entrepreneur with experience of church planting, ‘fresh expressions of church’ and establishing enterprises with social and poverty-alleviation purposes. After economics at Cambridge and working in engineering and agriculture, he founded several businesses including ‘Transcend’, which employs 100 people in Bethlehem serving Palestinian and Israeli clients. He delivered entrepreneurial training in Africa, Asia and Europe, led a political campaign, and co-leads a church in his local village hall. With the Germinate team he developed the Germinate conferences, Germinate Leadership, rural learning communities and the Germinate Enterprise rural business start-up programme.


We will be adding further materials and videos over the coming weeks.

Keynote 1: Dr Rosemary Dewerse “Living and dreaming God’s vision for our world”

Media file for “Our Transforming God”


Keynote 2: Rev Jenny Dawson “Shared ministry: a way of being church at the heart of rural ministry?”

Learning community sessions facilitated by Jerry Marshall

  • Day 1: What IS?
  • Day 2: What COULD BE?
  • Day 3: What WILL BE?

Contact Jerry Marshall for these PowerPoint presentations: [email protected]

Selected Conference Photos

Delegate Feedback summary: NZ feedback report

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