Fellows from five Conferences will discuss organizing in small and rural communities in upcoming webinar series 

Tune in to a special United Church of Christ webinar series featuring local leaders from small and rural churches doing faith-based organizing in their communities. 

The five-part Nurture the Soul series, “Building Up a New World,” will begin April 18 and run through May 16. It grew out of a fellowship program initiated by the Rev. Tracy Howe.  

During the past two years, five fellows worked to develop organizing strategies, programming, and educational opportunities addressing specific needs of small and rural churches. Each webinar will take a look at the work done by one of those fellows. Join Nurture the Soul on these upcoming dates to hear what each has to share: 

  • April 18: Building Up a New World in Montana, featuring Rev. Laura Folkwein; 
  • April 25: Building Up a New World in Texas, featuring Rev. Yadi Martinez; 
  • May 2: Building Up a New World in Rural Oregon, featuring Rev. Jennifer Butler; 
  • May 9: Building Up a New World in the Southeastern Conference, featuring ACM Heather Fosburg; and  
  • May 16: Building Up a New World in South Carolina, featuring Patrice Smallwood. 

Supporting a variety of UCC settings

The Rev. ellie hutchinson, UCC minister for church and community engagement, hopes to continue supporting Conferences, Associations, and local churches through a variety of ways. 

“In ‘Building Up a New World,’ myself and other national ministry Love of Church team members are using the information and experiences of these five fellows to continue to build, resource, and equip Conferences and local churches throughout this great nation,” hutchison said. “The needs are great, and the stakes are high in the work of faith-based justice building, as our theology continues to change to better live into what the still speaking G-d calls us to be. The good news is most of our local churches have that desire to continue the work of the church beyond our church doors.”  

The Rev. Tracy Howe, leader of the UCC’s Faith Education, Innovation and Formation team, agrees.  

“The world is full of increasing need and vulnerability, and trying to attend to it all is not sustainable or possible for our local churches,” Howe said. “Balancing this reality with what the Gospel compels us to do in the work of justice and witness in the world is a struggle for most communities of faith. ‘Building Up a New World’ and this innovative fellowship we developed seeks to equip faith leaders as community and cultural organizers, centering embodied discipleship and faithful community building.”  

‘Faithful and bold’

Howe shared that centering discipleship and community is a means to get where churches need to go.

“We build what we need to sustain ourselves in the work of justice and also remind ourselves we don’t need to do everything,” How said. “We just need to be faithful and bold in engaging what is before us.”

“This group of fellows has been extraordinary,” she added. “They have demonstrated what it means to be faithful in very specific context — from grappling with rural, under-resourced churches across the South, to using church-owned land to build justice with the unhoused, in work with queer and trans youth in a state with some of the most repressive trans and queer policies, to digging deep into the history of settler colonialism in white rural communities.

“We hope to make them more visible as leaders in our denomination with experience and knowledge in congregational organizing.”

The webinars will occur on Thursdays at 3:30 p.m. ET during the regular Nurture the Soul weekly programming. You can register for the series here.

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Categories: United Church of Christ News

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