What is a Rural Chaplain?

Background/History

The Rural Chaplains Association emerged in response to the US farm crisis in the 1980’s as a means of providing support and encouragement to farm families, communities, and congregations impacted by the farm crisis. Rural Chaplaincy offered a forum for dialogue related to issues that threatened the vitality and very existence of rural institutions and residences. It continues to be a ministry of presence as it provides a place for sharing struggles, losses, celebrations, and healing in the midst of continuing decline in many areas. Rural Chaplains are lay and clergy persons who have sensed the call to live in, work with, and advocate for town and rural persons, families, churches, and communities. Special emphasis is placed on response to hate and violence and advocacy for justice issues among all people, regardless of ethnicity, gender, age, or economic status. Members meet annually for support, encouragement, resourcing, networking, and enrichment. Focus events enhance biblical understanding and focus on person-related chaplaincy-type skills as well as understandings about issues of environment/pollution/global warming, food production and multi-national economics that impact farmers, workers, migrants, and rural businesses and communities.

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Goals & Objectives

(1) To provide annual gathering exposure/information to increase awareness and enable shaping of new vision, gaining new insights into possibilities of bringing about change, transformation, healing, and new vision for rural congregations and communities.
(2) To have 50 Rural Chaplains participate in a focus event each year which affirms, recognizes, and celebrates the ministry of lay and clergy chaplains and gives attention to leadership development in such areas as issues impacting health and welfare of rural families, advocacy for social justice, economic development and sensitization to hate/violence/terrorist activities.
(3) To be intentional about networking among the Rural Chaplains.
(4) To promote ongoing support for Russian Rural Chaplains in their congregations.
(5) To provide a quadrennial ecumenical gathering to share models on cooperative/collaborative styles of ministry.

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Activities Plan

The annual focus event will devote time to the honing of Rural Chaplains’ skills in working with issues related to the spiritual, social, cultural, and economic needs of the rural community. Focus events will give attention to life situations of people in different sections of the United States, such as Appalachia and specific situations in need of support for the rural church and sustainable rural communities. Networking, informal and intentional, will take place in every event. Time will be given to the telling of personal stories about the ministries in which Rural Chaplains are involved. From time to time stories included in the required annual reports will be shared through various means of communication. Rural Chaplains will continue to inform United States congregations, groups, and individuals of the ministry and needs of Russian Rural Chaplains in order to garner interest in and provide support for them, i.e. salary support, church construction, youth and children ministries, health care, prison ministry, ministry with the aged, etc. A quadrennial ecumenical gathering will be held to share models on cooperative/collaborative styles of ministry.

Brochure: RCA BROCHURE 2015

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