Market Harborough is strategically situated on the border between Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, surrounded by breathtakingly beautiful scenery, ancient farmland, panoramic landscapes and numerous villages with their churches. Major road and rail systems make for good communications, while the Grand Union Canal snakes its way among them.
There is also a strong Christian heritage in both the town and the surrounding villages. In the heart of the town stands the Old Grammar School with key scripture passages painted on the outside timbers.
Two Anglican Dioceses meet here: Leicester and Peterborough. Baptist, Congregational, Methodist and Catholic churches stand alongside the Parish Churches in the villages. There is generally enthusiasm to work together. When the Centre for Rural Mission moved to the East Midlands in 2005 it was by invitation from one village church keen to set up a rural mission programme. At the same time ministers from two other denominations were also prayerfully hoping to see rural evangelism take place – all three independent of one another.
Even before we discovered the breadth of interest, the phrase “Rural Mission Partnership” came to mind. This is now well established and church leaders meet four times a year to share encouragement, pick up information on resources, and pray together.