Rural Studies 45 pp 15-23

The emergence of an extensive literature exploring the post-secularism in recent years has revived interest in the role of religion in society. However, such studies are overwhelmingly focussed on the urban experience, while the relationship between rurality and post-secularism remains largely unconsidered. Set against the back-drop of challenges to rural religious organization, such as redundant buildings, merged parishes, and lack of incumbents, this paper examines the endogenous actions of lay-people in sustaining religious services. Examining the examples of Church in Wales and Muslim worshippers in rural Wales, we argue that these actions constitute a ‘post-pastoral’ experience, which although maintaining religious identities, challenge the traditional community leadership roles associated with professional clerics. As a consequence, distinctions between urban and rural experiences of post-secular activities are revealed, suggesting that the potential for the countryside to experience similar involvement of faith-based organizations in benevolent action as the city is limited. This highlights the need for more attention on training and support for lay-people by religious organizations by both academics and policy formulators.