Dr. Craig L. Nessan is William D. Streng Professor for the Education and Renewal of the Church, Academic Dean, and Professor of Contextual Theology and Ethics at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. He holds degrees from Michigan State University, Wartburg Theological Seminary, and the University of Munich. He serves as Co-Editor of the online journal, Currents in Theology and Mission (www.currentsjournal.org). In addition to other articles, reviews, and books, Dr. Nessan has been active in generating a Life of Faith Initiative in the ELCA (www.lifeoffaith.info).
Congregations and Climate Change:
This workshop focuses on practical ways congregations can address climate change. We will explore steps that can be implemented in several areas: worship, education, organizational, green space, and energy practices. We will listen to what colleagues have seen and done in their contexts. How can congregations become models of ecojustice in their local communities? This breakout session is available only the first two times.
Anna Johnson has worked out of the Center for Rural Affairs’ Nevada, Iowa, office since 2016. After several years of managing the Center’s federal agricultural policy work, she now handles several projects related to the Center’s work in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The best part of her job has and always will be getting to know the people who also care about the Center’s mission. Anna moved to Iowa in 2014 to pursue her master’s degree in sociology and sustainable agriculture at Iowa State University, and in her spare time, she likes to grow vegetables and native prairie plants.
More about the Center for Rural Affairs:
The Center for Rural Affairs stands up for small family farmers and ranchers, new business owners, and rural communities. For nearly 50 years, we have been the leading force engaging people to build a vibrant rural future. The Center’s mission is to establish strong rural communities, social and economic justice, environmental stewardship, and genuine opportunity for all while engaging people in decisions that affect the quality of their lives and the future of their communities. Based in the small town of Lyons, Nebraska, the Center is proud to include additional staff living and working in rural Iowa, South Dakota, and Minnesota. Read more about what we do and why we do it at cfra.org.
Building a More Vibrant, Resilient, Just, and Joyful Rural Future:
The Center for Rural Affairs collaborates with rural communities to build a more vibrant, resilient, just, and joyful rural future. Anna will give examples of the Center’s work in three different areas: engaging people in advocacy efforts to create policy change; partnering with Native Communities to strengthen food systems and entrepreneurship; and creating more inclusive communities through leadership trainings and opportunities to bring people together across cultural divides.
Mark Swanson is a Regional Director for Growing Hope Globally in the Upper Midwest and West Coast. Growing Hope Globally provides an opportunity for Christians to make a lasting impact on global hunger, linking the grassroots energy and commitment of rural communities in the U.S. with the capability and desire of smallholder farmers in developing countries. Previously he was a pastor serving churches in South Dakota and most recently Washington state, where he helped organize a Growing Project with his congregation. Mark and his family live in Decorah, Iowa.
Rural Ministry, Global Impact
Rural churches might be best positioned to make an outsized impact when it comes to responding to global hunger and also benefit themselves while doing it. Join us for The Global Farmer Experience, a simulation based on the challenges facing farmers in developing countries. Find out not only how you will fare when faced with the kind of difficult decisions smallholder farmers must make every day, but also discover a model for how your rural congregation could make a lasting impact when it comes to global hunger that celebrates their rural identity and mission
Pastor Nicole Woodley
Originally from Newton Iowa, Nicole graduated from Simpson College with a degree in Biology and received her Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School. Nicole’s ministry experiences include working in Iowa, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Minnesota, ranging from urban to rural and anything in between. After serving in many different places, she finds herself at home in Wright County Iowa, where her husband, Pastor Grant, was born and raised. Nicole and Grant are fourth-generation farmers, raising corn, soybeans, pigs, and a collection of “funny farm” animals on their acreage. After co-pastoring with Grant for 7 years, Nicole now serves as a Chaplain for Ewing Funeral Homes, and a mentor for other rural pastors in the “Moses Project” through Grand View University. Nicole loves being a wife, a biological and adoptive mom of five, a foster mom, a pastor, and a farmer. She loves to cook, clean, spend time with family outside, and ride her horse Dallas.
Think Like a Farmer:
In this session, we will debunk some farm myths, explore the realities of farm life, the economic challenges and risks and also highlight how thinking like a farmer can benefit our congregations. In particular, we’ll focus on the difference between tradition and traditioned innovation; Why holding on to shared values is so important, and why we have to give up trying to reproduce the past. Change is risky and involves failure not only in ministry but in farming.
Ann Fritschel, Bible Study Leader
Emeritus Professor Ann Fritschel, a Wartburg Seminary graduate, celebrated her 30th anniversary of ordination in 2016 and served as President of the Midwest Region of the Society of Biblical Literature in 2012-13. After serving churches in Dickinson, Mohall and Hamerly N.D., she got her Ph.D from Emory University and joined the Wartburg Faculty in 1996. With a strong interest and passion in rural ministry, she served as the Director of the Center for Theology and Land. Ann has presented numerous workshops on the psalms, Islam and stewardship, as well as leading several synod assembly bible studies. She enjoys traveling (as long as people drive on the right side of the road), reading and needlepoint. She is a descendant of Gottfried Fritschel, one of the founders of Wartburg Seminary.