Organizations

Rural Home Missionary Association
RHMA is concerned with planting and strengthening churches in small-town America, and has been in existence since 1942.  The organization provides training through regional conferences for rural clergy and laity, and even helps sponsor a DMin degree focusing on Town and Country Ministry at Golden Gate Theological Seminary.  Anyone interested in church planting and revitalization in the rural context will benefit from the RHMA.  They can be found online at http://www.rhma.org/.

International Rural Churches Association
According to their webpage, “The International Rural Churches Association is a network of people with a passion for rural communities, based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We share our stories of struggle and our stories of hope, joined by our reliance on the land and sea for our livelihood and by determination and hope because of faith in the triune God. Our vision is to be a voice for the rural community worldwide and to encourage sustainable rural communities and practices.”

Town and Country Church Institute
The Town and country Church institute is based out of Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Their research and programing focuses on rural and small church ministry, ethnography of religion, church and land, ecological restoration, and Appalachian ministry emersion experiences.  They are online at http://townandcountrychurch.wordpress.com/concentrated-studies/.

Thriving Rural Communities Initiative-Duke Divinity School
This initiative at Duke works to foster rural North Carolinian faith communities in the United Methodist tradition.  Their programs include a rural ministry fellowship program, a rural ministry network that provides lunches for pastors around the state, and partnerships with migrant worker programs and initiatives.  Much of the research about rural churches that has emerged from Duke in recent years is a direct result of funding for this initiative.  The initiative, while focusing on United Methodist church, provides insightful information for clergy and laity from any tradition.  They are online at https://divinity.duke.edu/initiatives-centers/thriving-rural-communities.

The Wartburg Center for Theology and Land-Wartburg Seminary
The Center for theology and Land has been one of the leading voices and influences in rural religious studies in the last three decades.  The center has a strong focus on justice issues as they relate to rural people, and on theology and land.  Several influential books on rural theology and rural ministry have come from professors attached to this organization.  The Center for Theology and Land hosts an annual rural ministry conference, which brings a variety of scholars and presenters together, focusing on rural churches and ministry.  The can be found online at http://www.wartburgseminary.edu/template_Centers.asp?id=391.

National Catholic Rural Life Conference
Catholic Rural Life has been in existence since 1923, and focuses on applying the teachings of Christ for the benefit of rural America.  The have a variety of programs focusing on a wide range of topics including advocacy at state and federal levels for food programs, supporting rural pastors and laity, faith based ecology, and justice for migrant farm workers.  They also publish resources including the Catholic Rural Life Magazine, a Rural Life Prayer Book, and a cookbook focused on Christian ethics on the kitchen called Cooking for Christ: Your Kitchen Prayer Book.  They can be found online at http://www.ncrlc.com/.

Rural Church.US
This blog is run by Pickens Baptist Association’s (Mississippi) Director of Mission and sociologist Gary Farley.  Farley looks at rural ministry from an associational level, attempting to network like-minded churches in ministry.  He makes his research and papers freely available for reprint and distribution among rural clergy and laity.  Baptist ministers and associational directors will find his writing on Baptist Associations of great interest.  He blogs at http://ruralchurch.us/.

The Center for Rural Culture
This group promotes rural culture in Goochland, Virginia, which is about thirty minutes west of Richmond.  They promote eating locally grown produce and livestock, and rural tourism in the county.  Partners include local farmers, restaurants, and wineries.  In many ways, this center promotes rural tourism and living more than it addresses rural cultural challenges or rural culture from a sociological perspective, although tourism can be a major force in emerging rural economies. They can be found online at http://www.centerforruralculture.org/centerforruralculture.org/ProgramsEvents.aspx.

The Center For Small Towns at The University of Minnesota at Morris
The Center for Small Towns researches economics and sociology in small towns in Minnesota, striving to assist small towns adapt to cultural change in the Twenty-First Century.  They host symposiums and educational events throughout the year, and provide consulting and resources on economic development in rural areas.  One of the events The Center for Small Towns hosts is the Rural Arts and Culture Summit, an annual event highlighting the possible relationship between rural artists and small towns, providing opportunities for dialogue concerning the development of culture in various ruralities.

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