In April of this year, a small group of us met around rural and small town church ministry. Below are the notes from our meeting.
There is a consortium being established from other denominations.
Those who attended were:
Steve and Cheryl Dueck from Bracken
Preston Hartwig from Nipiwin
Joell Haugan from Swift Current
Joshua Goetz from Asquith
Paul Spate from Ponoka
Dennis Stone from Claresholm
Ken Thiessen – Heartland Area Minister
Jeremy Bell – Executive Minister
Some of the comments:
“Thank you for agreeing to meet on this most important topic. With the rest of Western society, Canada has come out of a cycle of urbanization and de-ruralization. There is a movement in the resource rich Western provinces and territories to re-examine our relationship with small town and rural life. Part of that re-examination is the re-visioning of small and rural entities as healthy, accessible and affordable places to live. Against all this is the abandonment of rural and small towns by businesses, government services and the local church.
There is a consortium being established from mainline denominations. One effort of this is to see that abandoned churches of these denominations be able to be contracted by other denominational works in order to make the rural ministry more affordable, also saving the church a centre of community.
Each participant shared their setting and a commitment was made to gather at least twice a year in phone conferencing and once in person to discuss rural ministry.
It was shared that rural based communities have long memories.
We asked how can existing churches effectively be a hub for smaller communities: i.e. multi-charge, audio-visual.
Rural ministry needs to be defined.
Membership needs to be a concept that is more inclusive.
Terminology is perhaps changing from church to congregation, from urban to small town, to rural.
We agreed to talk on a regular basis, using the various means at our disposal.
We agreed to expand the network of folk interested in this area of ministry and these are just some beginning thought.
I thank Dennis for creating the first notes.