History & Goals

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

The primary goal of the Rural Chaplains Association is to promote connections among persons living and serving in rural areas and to provide training and learning experiences for leadership and personal development of Rural Chaplains.

The objectives of RCA include:

  1. To experience the rich diversity of people, cultures and traditions that contribute to life in rural communities.
  2. To gain perspectives on the state of rural communities, environmental/land use, economic challenges, and religious/family life concerns.
  3. To learn from Native Americans, First Nation People, and other ethnic populations regarding past and present issues/struggles/opportunities.
  4. To provide consequential learning experiences in working with others to advocate for justice.
  5. To facilitate training experiences on cooperative styles of ministry as a way of working together to enrich the ministry of the churches as well as serving community needs.
  6. To create a greater awareness of the church around the world by holding periodic focus events in and beyond the United States.

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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.