A Moment for Mission
The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.—Psalm 19:1, NRSV
"I am glad to be able to serve where I do," says the Rev. Rick Craig of Cando, North Dakota. "I have three amazingly loving 'church families' who never fail to give me so much more than I … give them."
A licensed local pastor in the Dakotas Annual Conference, Craig serves full-time at a three-point charge that includes Cando, Rollo and Rocklake United Methodist churches. "I have been under appointment for 15 years," he says, "and have lived in North Dakota for 35 years."
When Craig photographs his three pretty churches surrounded by snow or ripening fields of grain or gets another treasured shot of a weathered barn, his joy is evident.
"Living in rural areas may not have all of the ready-made entertainment and shopping opportunities available in urban settings," he admits, "but there is an undeniable beauty to be found. You can actually experience peace and silence."
But challenges abound. "Schools and businesses close, while churches with aging and declining membership struggle to remain in ministry. People in rural areas face real economic stresses caused by weather events that can drastically reduce agricultural yield and decrease income."
On Rural Life Sunday, United Methodists celebrate the denomination's rural heritage, recognize the ongoing crisis occurring in rural areas of the nation and the world today and affirm the interdependence of rural and urban communities. Please give generously. Thank you!
Loving God, we depend so much on the people who devote their lives to farming; yet, we often forget their struggles of economics and isolation. Open our eyes to the harsh conditions they often face and our hearts to give generously. Amen.
From Discipleship Resources: Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost/in Kingdomtide – Loving Father, Redeeming Son, and Holy Spirit: with our every breath, the very air that fills our lungs draws us closer to you. The water, food, and air that keep us alive are gifts from your goodness. Every gift we offer back to you is a result of our use of these basic gifts through your creation. As we bring our gifts to you this morning, remind us once again that the sky, the sea, the ground we walk on, and all the plants and animals are foundational blessings for which you have given us both charge and accountability, not just for our use but for what we leave for the generations that follow. We pray, through your love, that we may be found faithful stewards. In Christ, we pray. Amen. [Psalm 19]
"One of my members," says the Rev. Rick Craig of Cando, North Dakota, "is nearing retirement." None of his children plans to take over the farm that has been in the family for generations.
"He knows he will be the last in his family to farm that land," the licensed local pastor adds. "Now he must decide if he should continue to use an aging machinery fleet, or take on the debt of new machinery when he knows he may not be able to pay it off before he retires and has to sell off all of his machinery."
Rural Life Sunday is especially important to Craig and his three country congregations. On this special day, United Methodists celebrate the denomination's rural heritage, recognize the ongoing crisis occurring in rural areas of the world today and affirm the interdependence of rural and urban communities.
"Many folks in rural areas feel left out and left behind," Craig says. "But all people matter."