July 24 – Rural Life Sunday (annual conference decides date and offering purpose)

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Untitled Document

A Moment for Mission

“Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky. The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.” —Psalm 85:11-12, NRSV

The Rev. Rick Craig and the Rev. Joanne Nagele live and love rural life.

“I was born in the northeast corner of California and spent my younger years in rural areas in California, Oregon and Idaho before coming to North Dakota in 1975 as an airman stationed at Minot Air Force Base,” said Craig. “I worked in the construction industry for many years before answering a call to pastoral ministry in 2003.” Craig, who for 14 years served three United Methodist congregations in Cando, Rocklake and Rolo, North Dakota, now has a two-point charge in Minot and Des Lacs.

Rural ministry, he said, “suits me very well. I enjoy the less frantic pace, as well as the friendly, family-like atmosphere. The people readily pitch in to help neighbors in times of need as well as celebration.” 

Nagele concurs.

“I receive the most joy from just ‘being there’ for our congregation and our community,” she said. “The friendly attitude is a plus. To be invited into family situations for joys, sorrows and other needs, I consider a privilege.” Nagele has served Our Savior’s, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America congregation in Huron, South Dakota, for five years.

On Rural Life Sunday , we honor the rural heritage of the church, recognize the ongoing crisis occurring in rural areas of the United States and the world today and affirm the interdependence of rural and urban communities.

Children’s Message
Prop: toy farm set or tractor

Have you ever visited a farm or a farmers’ market? Why are farms so important for everyone?

When you go to the grocery store, you can buy crunchy apples, juicy peaches, tasty tomatoes, and other fruits and vegetables. You may get meat to cook burgers or fried chicken.

Farmers usually plant seeds in the spring and harvest crops in the fall. They may raise cows, goats, pigs and sheep. Without their careful planning about which crops to plant or which animals to take to market, we would find empty shelves at the store.

Our church celebrates a special day called Rural Life Sunday. “Rural” means areas outside big cities. This is a time to remember farmers and to thank them for the work they do.

Offertory Prayer
Loving God, thank you for the faith and faithfulness of rural congregations and the pastors who serve them. Show us new ways to nurture and to learn from them. We love you. Amen.

From Disciple Ministries: Seventh Sunday after PentecostCompassionate God, you know us in every step of our lives and in every misstep. We all have stories that we tell with pride and those we would hide and long to forget—but you know them all. We bring our gifts to you this day, knowing that your love is not dependent on our best moments but on how we have persevered in finding the discipleship path after we have fallen short. May our gifts and our lives themselves be a witness to your relentless love. We pray in the holy name of Christ, our redeemer. Amen. (Hosea 1:2-10)

Newsletter Nugget
“Rural life brings its own joys,” said the Rev. Rick Craig, who served a three-point charge in northeastern North Dakota until summer 2022. His Sunday-morning circuit was 86 miles round trip.

“We make our own fun out on the prairie,” he said. “We come together to support our young people in school sports and other activities. We gather for celebrations: baptisms, confirmations, graduations and weddings. We come together in times of pain—to support at funerals and to help when a farm family is in need. These are my people, and I love them so.”

Although Craig’s new appointment is in a more urban area (Faith UMC, Minot, and Des Lacs UMC), his mission remains the same. “Those people,” he said, “will be my people, too, and I will serve and love them to the best of my ability.” 

On Rural Life Sunday , we honor the church’s rural heritage, recognize the crises occurring in rural areas, and affirm the interdependence of rural and urban communities.