Church of England steps up work to tackle rural isolation across Suffolk

The Rt Rev Martin Seeley, Bishop of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, and Rev Canon Sally G

The Rt Rev Martin Seeley, Bishop of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, and Rev Canon Sally Gaze, the new Archdeacon for Rural Mission Picture: KEITH MINDHAM - Credit: Archant

Moves by the Church of England in Suffolk to help tackle rural isolation in the county have taken a big step forward with the announcement of a key appointment.

The Rt Rev Martin Seeley, Bishop of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, has appointed, with the support of national church funding, Rev Canon Sally Gaze to be the new Archdeacon for Rural Mission.

She is a priest with a successful track record of engaging with rural communities and encouraging more people to become involved with the Christian faith in new and innovative ways.

Bishop Martin said: “Sally has been working with us to strengthen and develop church life in our rural communities and I am delighted that she is now taking on this expanded responsibility.

“She brings her rich experience of growing rural churches and has a significant national profile for pioneering creative approaches to rural mission and ministry.”

Rev Canon Gaze said: “It means an immense amount to be chosen for this new post. My passion has been rural mission for many years, so this new and innovative role feels like the fulfilment of a dream. The role is simply about helping people to experience God’s love in rural Suffolk in all sorts of ways from creative worship to combatting isolation. This is not something I’ll be doing on my own though, I will be part of a gifted team.”

Before she was appointed Dean for Rural Mission Consultancy in the Diocese in 2017, Rev Canon Gaze, who was born in Great Yarmouth, served in Norfolk for 15 years as Team Rector in the Tas Valley Team Ministry in Norfolk, Fresh Expressions Facilitator and Hon Canon of Norwich Cathedral.

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She will be made a Residentiary Canon of St Edmundsbury Cathedral on February 10 but will continue to live and work in a rural Suffolk location.

Her appointment has been welcomed by the Rt Rev Dr Mike Harrison, Bishop of Dunwich, who said: “Sally has a proven track record of rural community engagement and of growing various kinds of worshipping communities which reach people who want to explore the spiritual side of their lives and Christian faith.”

Rev Canon Gaze, 49, is married to Chris and they have children Matthew, 19, and Katie, nine.

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