34th Annual Rural Ministry Conference: March 1-3, 2015

Where leaders in rural communities and congregations gather to gain insight and inspiration, to network and neighbor that our ministries might be empowered. This ecumenical conference includes worship, keynote speakers, workshops, and Bible study, and offers participants a unique opportunity to network with others who are active in and concerned about rural ministry.

Registration Deadline: February 27th, 2015 

Click Here To Register Online Now!    Click here for printable schedule & brochure.

Registration Costs:
Save $50 if you have been serving in a rural congregation for less than 5 years.

Early Bird Registration: (due February 2)
1 person: $160
2 or more: $140 each

Standard Registration: (due February 27)
1 person: $175
2 or more: $155 each

Registration is limited to the first 200 people and includes all lunches and dinners (not breakfast). Does not include lodging.

All sessions will be held at Best Western Plus Hotel, 3100 Dodge Street, Dubuque, IA

To make hotel reservations at the $80 group rate, contact Best Western
at 800-336-4392 and use group name Rural Ministry Conference.

Sponsors and Support:
Partially funded by a grant from The Esther and Carl Merklein Foundation

Keynote Speakers: Dr. Jeanne Hoeft
"The Role of the Rural Church in Mental Health"
nylandJeanne Hoeft is Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology and Pastoral Care and Dean of Students at Saint Paul School of Theology, where she has been since 2001. Before becoming a seminary professor she served as pastor of United Methodist congregations in Florida and Colorado. Her interests in pastoral theology include violence against women and children, global health, sexuality, and creating communities of care in local congregations.  She is a co-author, with L. Shannon Jung and Joretta Marshall, of Practicing Care in Rural Congregations and Communities and Agency, Culture and Human Personhood:  Pastoral Theology and Intimate Partner Violence.

Dr. L. Shannon Jung
"Where is the Grace of Caring in Rural America"
nylandShannon Jung is Emeritus Professor of Town and Country Ministries at St. Paul's School of Theology. Prior to that he was Director for the Center for Theology and Land at the University of Dubuque and Wartburg Theological Seminaries. He has written several books, including co-authoring with Dr. Jeanne Hoeft and Dr. Joretta Marshall, Practicing Care in Rural Congregations and Communities.  He also has served small Presbyterian churches in Tennessee and Minnesota and is now retired and living in Florida.

Plenary Speaker: Rev. Dr. Craig Nessan
Craig Nessan is Academic Dean and Professor of Contextual Theology at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. He teaches courses in the areas of contextual theology, pastoral theology, and theological ethics.   Dr. Nessan has served eleven years as a parish pastor in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Cape Girardeau, Missouri.  In addition to other articles, reviews, and books, Dr. Nessan is the author of Shalom Church: The Body of Christ as Ministering Community (2010), Beyond Maintenance to Mission: A Theology of the Congregation (2010, Revised Edition), and Transforming Leadership: New Vision for a Church in Mission (2008—with Norma Cook Everist).

The following workshops will be offered at different times. 

“What do we do BEFORE and AFTER a disaster” - This workshop will share preparedness plans and ideas along with hands on protocol for what should be done after a disaster.

“Introduction to Parish Nursing" - This workshop will define what parish nursing is, what parish nurses can and can't do, how parish nursing can benefit rural churches (e.g. health education, screening, facilitate access to services), and how churches, nurses, and pastors can work together for this particular ministry.

“Guns, Crime, and Safety” - To what extent are rural communities actually safer than urban areas or suburbs? What can the rural church contribute to the debates over gun violence? This workshop explores the realities of crime and safety in rural communities where lack of anonymity and close-knit relationships can work to both deter and sustain some kinds of crime.
“Locating Grace in the Midst of Inequality: A Dialogue” - Too often we equate care with adaptation and with being loving when in fact loving can mean confronting reality and dealing with it. Rural churches often still operate out of the first model. This workshop will explore the difference between two types of caring and loving and ponder ways to move congregations to confront and deal with reality.

“Confronting Deep Change” - Deep change is not easy for congregations and congregational leaders to deal with, but is sometimes unavoidable. This workshop will explore how to deal with deep change and the congregational level and how congregational leaders can find self-care and spiritual renewal during times of conflict and change.

Workshop Leaders:

Rev. Catie Newman serves two United Methodist congregations in Northwest Iowa and also serves, along with her husband John, as the Disaster Response Coordinators for the Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.  Catie and John have volunteered in many disaster settings including: Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Slidell, Louisiana; along the Missouri River in 2011; and Mapleton, Iowa. 


Bishop Mark Narum was born in Garrison, N.D., and graduated from Minot State University, Minot, and Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa.  Narum has served as pastor of the four-point parish in Western North Dakota for 9 years prior to being elected bishop in 2008.  He has led the synod through the turbulent changes of the population and economic growth in the oil fields.  Bishop Narum and his wife Janice are parents of three children.

Rev. Dr. Mark Yackel-Juleen has served rural congregations in the ELCA since 1989. He is a founder and the Executive Director of Shalom Hill Farm, a rural ministry education and retreat center in Southwest Minnesota, since 1992. From 1999 to 2006, he also served as Rural Ministry Coordinator for the SWMN Synod of the ELCA. Beginning in 2006, Mark has served as Lead Pastor for Prairie Star Ministries, 5 congregations served by 4 pastors cooperating with Shalom Hill Farm. Since 2008, he has worked with agricultural mission projects in Zulu villages in the SE Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Southern Africa. He and his spouse, Margaret, were proud recipients of Wartburg’s 2006 Friend of Rural Ministry Award. Beginning September 1, 2015, Mark will start serving as a director of Small Town and Rural Ministries at Wartburg Theological Seminary.

Bible Study Leader:

troyDr. Matthew R. Schlimm (Duke University, Ph.D.) is Associate Professor of Old Testament at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. His interests focus on biblical theology, biblical ethics, and biblical emotions. He has served as an editor for the CEB Study Bible and authored two books: From Fratricide to Forgiveness and This Strange and Sacred Scripture. He is currently working on a commentary on Numbers and several projects with Abingdon Press. Read more at www.MatthewSchlimm.com.

Click here for printable registration form. 

Wartburg Theological Seminary
333 Wartburg Place, PO Box 5004, Dubuque, IA 52004-5004
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