The Church of England appoints the Revd Dr Mark Betson as the National Rural Officer for the Church of England.
Mark Betson has been the Diocesan Rural and Environment Officer for the last eight years and vicar of Lower Beeding. Mark is also the South East Regional Director for the Farming Community Network and has been heavily involved in bringing the countryside into schools, and supporting students at land-based colleges, with the South of England Agricultural Society.
Bishop of Lewes, Richard Jackson, said:
“Mark has had a distinguished and fruitful ministry as Diocesan Rural Officer. He brought great pastoral sensitivity, a deep understanding for the distinctives of rural ministry, and a love of rural life and culture. He also brought an entrepreneurial flair, always on the look out for new opportunities to embed the life of the Church in local communities. Alongside this he was a much loved and effective parish priest. We will miss him, but are thrilled for the opportunity his new role will offer him to use his gifts on a bigger stage, to the benefit of the national church.”
The Revd Dr Malcolm Brown, Director of Mission and Public Affairs, said:
“I am delighted that we shall soon be welcoming Mark into the Mission and Public Affairs team. The rural church is central to the Church of England’s commitment to being a Christian presence in every community, and the issues confronting rural communities often help us to understand national issues in public life more fully.
“Rural churches have distinctive strengths, as well as particular challenges. The National Rural Officer is a vital link between many aspects of the church’s mission and the rural communities of every diocese.
“Mark brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to this role and this will contribute enormously to the work of the whole department and to the Evangelism and Discipleship team. Mark will be working for much of the time alongside ecumenical colleagues at the Arthur Rank Centre in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire and this offers valuable synergies which will help us serve rural communities better.”
The Revd Dr Mark Betson said:
“I am looking forward to starting work as the National Rural Officer and the opportunity it presents to be an advocate for rural churches and communities. I am passionate about enabling them to thrive, particularly through greater working together in their individual and diverse settings, and by encouraging support for families and young people to have a future in these places, building up sustainable communities and churches.”
Mark will take up the post on 7 January 2019.