March 2 - 4, 2014
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.
February 28th, 2014
Click Here To Register Now! Click here for schedule. Click here for printable brochure package.
Save $50 if you have been serving in a rural congregation for less than 5 years.
Early Bird Registration: (due February 3)
1 person: $150
2 or more: $130 each
Standard Registration: (due February 28)
1 person: $165
2 or more: $145 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.
Partially funded by a grant from The Esther and Carl Merklein Foundation
Northern Illinois Conference of the UMC
"Being the Church in Today's World"
Pastor Nancy Nyland is the Director for Evangelical Mission, in the Indiana-Kentucky Synod of the ELCA. She has served 21 years in small town/rural ministry in South Dakota and Nebraska. Her current responsibilities include empowering, equipping and encouraging congregations in these areas: new start ministries and redevelopment of congregations, congregational renewal, strategic mission planning, area ministry strategies, evangelism, outreach, stewardship, and mission support. Nancy is a single mom with a 12 year old son, Tadd, who she adopted from Russia when he was 8 months old.
"The Changing Landscape of Rural Ministry"
Richard (Skip) Shaffer returned to UDTS after 17 years of pastoral ministry, serving Presbyterian churches in northwest Iowa and southwest Minnesota . Over the years he has developed an appreciation for small town and rural ministry and the special challenges and rewards those churches and communities offer. He has been active in the area of congregation revitalization, has served a number of years on the Committee on Ministry, and has considerable experience in conflict mediation. Dr. Shaffer has also been involved in ministry to immigrants to the Midwest and the unique problems they face.
The following workshops will be offered at different times.
“Greening Rural Churches” Callie Mabry and Dr. Ruth Kath
This workshop will highlight successful projects at two of the rural churches involved in the 2012 Greening Area Churches internship, help participants understand the unique role of rural churches in facing environmental challenges, and provide practical tips that can be easily implemented. Participants will receive an electronic copy of the resource booklet published by Holmberg and Mabry with additional ideas and resources.
“How Do We Invite People Into Our Faith Community?”
In this workshop participants will learn how to grow their congregation through: identifying their personal faith stories, practicing sharing these faith stories; creating and recognizing opportunities to invite others into their congregation; and assimilating new people into the congregation.
“God's Grace, Our Response: Where Stewardship and Mission Meet”
Many congregations tend to talk about stewardship only once a year in the fall stewardship emphasis. In this workshop participants will learn how to develop a wholistic year-round stewardship program. We will also explore how giving increases when the congregation's stewardship and the congregation's mission connect.
“Without Vision the People Shall "Parish": Vital Shared Ministry”
While cooperative ministry, especially across denominational lines, can be a powerful tool for living out the gospel it must be done properly. The urge of many church leaders is to move too quickly to the "how" of a merger without being clear on the "why". The process must begin with a clear articulation of the shared purpose. This workshop will focus on how ministry in rural communities has changed and make clear the need to consider new cooperative ministry ventures like ecumenical mergers, present a suggested process for exploring and implementing a successful merger.
“Reaching Out in Social Action in One's Community”
This workshop will address basic concepts of community organizing as an approach for the ministry of the rural church. We will explore rural community analysis principles, neighborhood dynamics, and asset-based work as these inform the task of organizing and how church leaders can apply these principles to organizing in their own home contexts. Saul Alinsky's thought will serve as a foundation.
“Stewardship In Your Congregation: Top Ten Ideas That Work ”
How can we re-think stewardship in our parish! These ten ideas have made a difference in our rural congregations. How will they work for you?
Rev. Nancy Nyland is the Director for Evangelical Mission, in the Indiana-Kentucky Synod of the ELCA. She has served 21 years in small town/rural ministry in South Dakota and Nebraska. Her current responsibilities include empowering, equipping and encouraging congregations in these areas: new start ministries and redevelopment of congregations, congregational renewal, strategic mission planning, area ministry strategies, evangelism, outreach, stewardship, and mission support. Nancy is a single mom with a 12 year old son, Tadd, who she adopted from Russia when he was 8 months old.
Rev. Dr. Jaye Johnson is one of eight Field Outreach Minsters in the Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Prior to becoming a Field Outreach Minster, Jaye served a variety of ministry settings including a "blended congregation" that functioned in mission, structure, and polity as one church, but maintained with five worship centers. Immediately before accepting this position he led a “vital ecumenical merger” of a United Methodist and a Presbyterian congregation to create a new congregation in a county seat town of 1200 people. He earned his Master of Divinity from the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry in Leadership and Congregational Development from Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City. He is married to Rev. Amy Johnson, who also serves as a United Methodist pastor. They live in Milo, IA with their two children Alee (12) and Andrew (10).
Rev. Chad Christensen has served two open country churches for 14 years, in Upper Michigan and currently in rural Black Earth, Wisconsin. He earned a Master of Theology degree from Princeton Theological Seminary which emphasized the areas of evangelism and leadership. He has consulted 15 churches on revitalization ministry and has served two ELCA synods on their congregational mission boards.
Callie Mabry is a senior majoring in Environmental Studies and History at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. As a Greening Churches Intern in 2012, she worked with nine church congregations in northern Iowa on environmental stewardship projects during the summer. She is originally from Fort Collins, Colorado.
Ruth R. Kath, Ph.D. has been professor of German at Luther College since 1979, and holds an M.A. in Theology from Loras College, Dubuque. At Luther, she incorporates sustainability projects into her teaching, serves as summer supervisor for Greening Churches Interns, and co-teaches a study abroad course on Sustainability in Germany and Norway.
Bishop Thomas Skrenes is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Madison and Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. Bishop Skrenes was first ordained a pastor in 1980. He served for 12 years at Trinity Lutheran Church in Ishpeming, and, in 1992, was called to serve as assistant to the bishop in the Northern Great Lakes Synod of the ELCA. He has served as bishop of that synod since 1999. Bishop Skrenes is married to Luanne M. Skrenes, a nurse educator, and together they have four sons and one grandson.
Troy Troftgruben A native of northeastern North Dakota, Troy joined the Wartburg faculty in 2013 and now lives in Dubuque with his wife, Maria, and their children, Timothy and Teresa. By vocation Troy sees himself as a pastor, only called to serve through teaching and service at Wartburg Seminary. Prior to teaching at Wartburg, Troy served for five years as a pastor at Calvary Lutheran church (E.L.C.A.) in Grand Forks, ND, and as an adjunct instructor at the University of North Dakota. Prior to that, he completed Ph.D. studies at Princeton Seminary, focusing on the ending of the Book of Acts and literary study of the New Testament. On Sabbath time, Troy enjoys running, riding his Trek road bike (and pretending he's fast), camping with his family, taking in scenery of the area, indulging in good coffee and excellent music, and following Minnesota sports teams and the Chicago Cubs.
Click here for printable registration form.