Why are we doing this?
While many similarities exist between what it means to be faithfully present in an urban or suburban parish and what it means to be faithfully present in a rural parish, rural presence does come with its own unique gifts and challenges. We’re hosting this conference to explore in depth some of those rural distinctives. We want to help you connect with rural practitioners from around the country, and bring more rural voices into important conversations about mission and discipleship. Finally, we live in an increasingly polarized culture, including the polarization of urban and rural people; we think the hard work of reconciliation begins with the church.
What can you expect?
Attendees can expect an engaging, informative, and highly participatory gathering. You’ll meet fellow community advocates, hear stories of rural presence, share best practices, and discern a new way forward for rural-urban partnerships.
What will you take away?
Participants will leave more inspired and better equipped to engage their rural communities in deeper ways. In addition to specific ideas and practices relevant to your particular places, you’ll also get a clearer picture of the movement that is unfolding in neighborhoods throughout North America. Seeking to be faithfully present in our communities can be lonely work. But you are not alone. Thus, one of the most valuable takeaways from the pre-conference will be the relationships you develop with other passionate rural advocates—relationships that will encourage and sustain you throughout the year.
Who should you invite?
The rural pre-conference is for anyone who is passionate about thriving rural places. This includes both clergy and laypeople, business owners and nonprofit volunteers, community advocates and civic leaders, parents, teachers, farmers, and more. Think of your rural community as an ecosystem: the more people you invite from your community, and the more sectors that are included, the greater impact you’ll make on the whole.