Bill Bennett comes from a Southern Hawke’s Bay farming background.
He has served much of his ministry as an Anglican priest in rural parishes in the Diocese of Waiapu as well as in the Norwich and Lichfield Dioceses in England. He worked as Ministry Enabler and twice as Regional Dean in Hawke’s Bay between 1994 and 2015.
His interest in rural communities is reflected in his publications: God of the Whenua (an overview of rural ministry in New Zealand), Seasons of the Land and The Shepherd’s Call (both being prayers and liturgies for rural communities). He continues to write hymns and songs (words and music).
He is on the Editorial Board of the international periodical, Rural Theology. Till its demise recently he was tutor in Rural Ministry Studies for the Ecumenical Institute for Distance Theological Studies (EIDTS).
He and his wife Wendy live in retirement in Napier, New Zealand.
This essay on rural ministry reflects on its long evolution, its current challenges, and its continuing viability for the future in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Bennett highlights key issues and opportunities for rural ministry today.
The rural church has been profoundly affected by economic and social change, and by theological and liturgical revolution in the wider church.
Underpinning this book is the hopeful message that parishes who accept the need for change, and are willing to adapt and respond to the needs of their community, can not only survive but thrive into future.