About 100 people attended the Small Town and Rural (STaR) Ministry Alliance annual gathering, which emphasizes networking to address rural concerns through special-interest groups known as “affinity groups.” The alliance represents more than 5,800 of the ELCA’s 10,461 congregations.
The meeting was held in late July in Selinsgrove, Pa., at Susquehanna University, an ELCA school. Participants engaged in worship, workshops and affinity group meetings, and heard speakers focus on the theme “Celebrating Rural Life.”
“The mission of this gathering is to celebrate rural life and the gifts that it brings,” said Sandra L. LaBlanc, ELCA director for rural ministry and networking, Des Moines, Iowa. The gathering, she added, purposely emphasizes the positives of rural life while acknowledging that small towns, farms and rural congregations have serious economic and social problems to confront.
Affinity groups focus on specific topics of concern in rural congregations and communities, such as worship, cooperative ministry models, health care, stewardship, evangelism, leadership and youth.
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