Thriving Rural Communities, in cooperation with Mt. Olive College and several local ecumenical organizations, is sponsoring a gathering of clergy and laity in North Carolina to explore the shape of Christian community and the nature of Christian mission in our small-town, rural context.
If you are like me, odds are you’ve never heard of Cowboy Church. Just linking those two words bring to mind all sorts of images. What are you imagining?
I first learned about Cowboy Church from a family in my congregation, one that has been a source of incredible support for me as I have transitioned to Davidson County and Shiloh UMC. I can’t recall how many invitations I politely declined before I finally attended, but I can tell you that my Thursday nights with High Rock Cowboy Church has been an unexpected source of joy and fellowship over the past months.
Some might think that the term "vital congregations" applies only to large churches. But interestingly, about 64 percent of United Methodist churches have 175 or fewer members, and many of these congregations are thriving.
In an article in the United Methodist Reporter, Mallory McCall discusses the factors that enable small-membership churches to be just as effective as their megachurch counterparts. Be sure to check it out.
Many of North Carolina’s rural UMC pastors are taking part in Convocation on the Rural Church this week, which I’m finding to be a wonderful source of fresh ideas and fellowship. We look forward to sharing highlights from that event in an upcoming post.
In a news segment on WUNC, the local National Public Radio affiliate, Rev. Grace Hackney discusses the unlikely formation of Anathoth Community Garden in the racially-charged town of Cedar Grove, N.C. A murder served as a catalyst for black and white residents to come together to create food for the community, but distrust on both sides made for a rocky start.
(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.)