pastors much attention has been given to diversity and
multiculturalism. But what about the traditional mismatch of city mouse
and country mouse? ELCA seminaries are working intentionally to help
new pastors bridge that rural-urban culture shock.
Tjarks (left), pastor of St. Peter Lutheran Church, Pender, Neb., shows
Gordon Pace, a student at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, a
parishioner’s feedlot operation. Much of livestock agriculture involves
feeding cattle on contract for outside owners, who buy the cattle and
have them shipped to the feedlot. When the cattle aremarket-ready,
buyers purchase them for packing plants, where they’re processed into
“The ELCA is still a
rural denomination,” said Mark L. Yackel-Juleen, a rural pastor who
serves as executive director of Shalom Hill Farm, an education and
retreat ministry near Windom, Minn. “Despite the fact that seminaries
are in cities and many of the people studying at seminaries are from
cities, a majority of students will do rural ministry when they
beats the drum for a required course in rural ministry at all ELCA
seminaries, most of which offer rural electives (see "Rural ministry resources
"). One that specializes in this ministry is Wartburg Seminary
, Dubuque, Iowa. It appeals to people with a heart for small town and country communities. And the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
has worked with the ELCA Nebraska Synod for several years, using its January session as a time for focus and immersion.
Rural immersion in the Nebraska Synod
is a project of its rural ministry task force and is a credit course at
LSTC. In January 2006, 10 seminarians and instructors visited Nebraska
congregations, learning about local ministries and living with host
families to gain a better understanding of rural life.
this as a way to help the synod address the shortage of pastors for
rural areas,” said Tom Miller, a one-time chair of the task force. “We
hope that when these students have completed their education, they will
be enthusiastic about rural ministry and willing to consider a call to
a rural churchopportunity.”
In a Web journal
seminarian Jordan Miller wrote: “I have been able to talk with rural
clergy, lay leaders and farmers to get different perspectives on the
challenges and joys of rural ministry and have been greatly encouraged
by what I’ve heard.
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