One of our Thriving Rural Communities Pastors, Rev. Grace Hackney of Cedar Grove UMC, recently wrote a profound reflection for Duke’s Clergy Health Initiative regarding what it might mean to be a truly healthy pastor in mind, body, and spirit. For Grace, a healthy pastor requires a healthy church community: just as the health of a church community depends upon the presence of a healthy pastor. Genuine health arises from daily decisions and appointments and reminders that are made in the midst of a healthy community’s life.
(From time to time we invite gifted and thoughtful rural church leaders to share their insights with us on The Covered Dish. This article was written by Rev. David Stark, pastor of Shiloh United Methodist Church in Gibsonville, NC.)
The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer once defined Jesus Christ as “the man for others.” Christ is the one who came not to be served, but to serve. What is true of Christ is true of the body of Christ. The church is a “people for others.” The church, according to William Temple, is the one cooperative society in the world that truly exists for the benefits of its non-members. Rural churches find their lives by losing them in self-forgetful service to their surrounding communities.