Join February webinar series for discussion of thriving churches in rural and small towns
A recent United Church of Christ survey found that over 60% of UCC congregations have small memberships, mostly found in rural and small-town settings.
A three-part Nurture the Soul webinar series featuring the vitality and thriving experiences of rural and small-town church settings kicks off on Feb. 22 at 3:30 p.m. ET. UCC members and pastoral leaders will share their personal experiences of life in rural and small towns, and the innovative ways of doing church and ministry in these settings. They will highlight their essential contributions to the wider UCC.
The Rev. Roberto Ochoa, UCC minister for ethnic inclusion and congregational support for small and rural churches, recently formed a new national coalition for congregations in these settings. Ochoa will lead the webinar series.
“More than half of UCC congregations are mostly small membership churches, found in areas that challenge the vision and mission of the United Church of Christ,” he said. “It is crucial that their voices and experiences are heard as our denomination journeys the road to a just world for all. The Coalition for UCC Rural/Small Town Churches and Ministries fills that space for a wider church and world.”
A continuation of making space
A first-ever national gathering for small and rural churches, led by this new coalition, was held almost exactly a year ago. The idea grew out of a letter to the Rev. John Dorhauer, then General Minister and President of the UCC.
“In the fall of 2019, (Dorhauer) received a letter from a UCC pastor in a rural setting disappointed in the lack of congregational and pastoral presence during General Synod,” Ochoa said last year. “The pastor felt that rural congregations and ministers felt isolated and disconnected from the national setting.”
A major goal for the coalition has been to offer space where national and conference UCC leaders would listen and work with local rural churches and pastors on issues important to the rural and small-town settings. Those who attended felt that first gathering was successful in renewing a sense of valued self-esteem, mission and purpose.
Ochoa hopes to hold another gathering later this year. In the meantime, the upcoming webinar series is a direct continuation of that ministry of creating space.
Registration for the series can be found here.
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