Town & Country Ministries

Overview

Churches in rural areas and in villages, towns, and cities with populations of less than 50,000, or where there are 250 people or fewer per square mile have unique ministerial needs and resources. Generally, their social environment is characterized by a direct relationship with nature and natural resources, small industries and manufacturing, and tourist activities.

This page is dedicated to helping develop lay and clergy leadership for town and country congregations, to the sharing of information about concerns affecting town and country churches and communities, and to providing information and response to questions about the diverse forms of cooperative ministries operating in rural areas, as well as helping pastors serving in Town & Country churches connect each other and share encouragement and ideas.

NY Conference Contacts

Your questions, critiques, and suggestions about how this site can be made more useful to you and your ministry are an integral part of this resource.  Please contact:

Rev. Steven Peiffer
40 Lincoln Avenue
Wallingford, CT 06492
steven.peiffer@nyac-umc.com
(o) 203-269-9100

Rev. Douglas Osgood
123 Wesley Heights
Shelton, CT  06484
drgoodpath@aol.com
203-926-1916

Church-wide Contacts

General Board of Global Ministries:  Rev. LeKisha Reed, Executive Secretary for Networks and Constituencies (with grant-writing expertise) LReed@umcmission.org  http://www.umcmission.org  404-460-7610

United Methodist Rural Advocates: Provides support to laity and clergy in rural ministry through local groups within conferences, workshops, a monthly newsletter, and legislative support and advocacy at General Conference.  http://www.umruraladvocates.org

The United Methodist Rural Fellowship: This organization became the UM Rural Advocates in 2013 (see above), but there are still some interesting resources on the internet listed under their old name.

Ecumenical Contacts

The Rural Chaplains Association: Formed in response to the farm crisis of the 1980’s, this membership organization supports and certifies laity and clergy who are called to be in rural and small-town ministry.  Rural chaplains continue their regular job or profession and receive no compensation for their chaplaincy work.  The association has Methodist roots, a majority of its members are United Methodists, and our GBGM strongly endorses its objectives, but the Rural Chaplains Association has no organic or legal ties to the UMC.  They also maintain connections to rural ministries in Russia, Guatemala, and Mexico.  http://rcahome.org

The Rural Church Network (of the U.S. and Canada): This ecumenical membership organization is a forum for sharing among denominational leaders and other rural and town strategic partners working for the wholeness and health of rural communities.  They maintain a small library of pertinent articles on their website.  http://www.ruralchurchnetwork.org

The Arthur Rank Centre:  An ecumenical Christian charity, located in England, which serves the spiritual and practical needs of the rural community thru projects, resourcing, and training.  Their website is at www.germinate.net

Also see their “Rural Isolation and Loneliness: A Practical Resource for Rural Churches” at germinate.net/resources/rural-isolation-project-resource/

The Annotated Bibliography

There are so many resources that pertain to Town & Country Ministry, that a brief (100 to 200 words) summary of a book or article that you have read and your experience with putting some of its aspects into practice is invaluable.  More info about writing an annotated bibliography can be found at www.umuc.edu/library/libhow/bibliography_tutorial.cfm

Some suggested titles for our annotated bibliography include:

Entering the World of the Small Church by Anthony G. Pappas

Making It Work: Effective Administration in the Small Church by Douglas Alan Walrath

Preaching as Local Theology and Folk Art by Leonora Tubbs Tisdale

Small Congregation, Big Potential by Lyle Schaller

Small, Strong Congregations by Kennon Callahan

Transforming Church in Rural America by Shannon O’Dell

Worshiping in the Small Membership Church by Robin Knowles

Legislative Changes in the 2016 Book of Resolutions that were sponsored by the UM Rural Advocates

#3103: Facilitation of Cooperative Ministry Throughout the Church: Emphasis placed on networking with other church and community persons around common passionate interests with less Methodist jargon attached.

#3104: Church and Community Workers: Emphasis added to respond to justice issues as well as to respond to human hurt.  Specific emphasis added that church and community programs be aligned with the four mission initiatives of the UM Church:

  • Engaging in ministry with the poor
  • Improving global health
  • Developing principled Christian leaders
  • Creating new and renewed congregations

#3391: Call to the Churches for the Renewal of Rural Ministries: To secure support for farm workers to secure not just decent wages, but living wages, and to obtain and maintain the right to organize.

#3395: Ministries of Rural Chaplains: The church is called to certify rural chaplains, and to expose them to issues of rural people from places around the world, and that they carry out ministries of care, justice, and nurture in an on-going relationship with the Rural Chaplains Association.

#1029: Protection of Water: Extensive changes, deletions, and additions, giving sources and references, because of the crucial need for protection and justice concerning this resource.

The Joys and Concerns of Cooperative Rural Ministry

See #3103 above.

Other Online Resources

Exploring Rural Contexts with Digital Storytelling  http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ987622.pdf

Life Storytelling as a way to Empower Older Adults in a Rural Area in Taiwan  www.iog.ncku.edu.tw/files/archive/319_301ac527.pdf