From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] Rural-ministry event goes multicultural

Date 21 Feb 2003 08:08:57 -0500

Note #7600 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

Rural-ministry event goes multicultural

Rural-ministry event goes multicultural

Sponsors acknowledge changing ethnic mix in country churches

by Evan Silverstein

LOUISVILLE - Learning how rural and small-town churches can reach out to
multicultural newcomers will be the main goal of participants in next month's
Rural Ministry Conference in Dubuque, IA.
Reaching Out, Inviting Others is the theme of the March 9-11 symposium, an
annual event whose sponsors include the University of Dubuque Theological
Seminary (UDTS) and Wartburg Theological Seminary.
The three-day program at the two Dubuque campuses will bring Presbyterians
together with other Christians from across the nation who are engaged in
rural ministry.
Wartburg, which is related to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
(ELCA), and UDTS, affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA), work closely
together in preparing students for rural ministry through the Center for
Theology and Land (CTL), a cooperative venture established in 1987 to
strengthen rural churches and their communities.
The Rev. Shannon Jung, a Presbyterian minister who directs the center, said
the conference will focus on African-, Hispanic- and Asian-Americans, since
those ethnic groups are most prevalent in rural areas. He said rural
communities also are receiving many Bosnian and Rwandan refugees.
Jung said the new multiculturalism of rural congregations is a new model, if
not the paradigm, for the church in the United States.
"We need to get ahead of that ... and start thinking about how the rural
church can be more multicultural," he said. "Inclusive in a way that is, one,
respecting of each other's cultures and values; two, interesting; and three,
generally open to the new redevelopment that's going to inevitably happen."
The other sponsors of the conference are the PC(USA)'s Rural Ministry
Network, the ELCA's Rural Ministry Resources and Networking Desk, and the
United Methodist Church's Heartland Network for Town and Rural Ministries.
More than 100 people had registered by Feb. 11, according to Jung, who said
organizers hope to draw 200, about as many as attended last year.
This year's 22nd annual conference will offer workshops with titles such as
Multi-cultural Ministry in a Cornfield and The Global Goes Local: Reaching
Out to Immigrant People.
Nine speakers have been lined up, including Diana Stephen, the PC(USA)'s
associate for Network Support for Rural and Small Church Ministries, whose
address is titled, Rural Evangelism for an Inclusive Future. Stephen also has
been named recipient of the Friend of Rural Ministry award, presented
annually at the conference.
"It's always great to connect with others who share a common concern for
rural ministry," said Stephen. "My office is delighted to be able to be one
of the co-sponsors."
Other speakers include the Rev. Hal Recinos, a professor in Southern
Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology, in Dallas, TX; Barbara
Dilly, an ELCA lay leader from Shell Rock, IA; and the Rev. David
Poling-Goldene, a new-church developer from Henderson, NV, who co-authored
the book Discovering Hope: Building Vitality in Rural Congregations.
In addition to organizing the Rural Ministry Conference, the Center for
Theology and Land supports rural ministries by conducting research and
compiling informational resources. Its leaders are especially interested in
the future of pastoral leadership in small and rural churches. The center
also plans to begin offering a certificate for rural lay leadership this
For more information about the conference, visit the CTL Web site,, or contact staff by email at or by
phone at (563) 589-3117.

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