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Pastor says future of rural churches is tied to the future of their communities

By HEATHER CHAPMAN • Oct 23, 2017 at 2:00 PM

A Kansas pastor has written a book exploring how rural churches can survive in a changing world.

Brad Roth is the pastor of West Zion Mennonite Church in Moundridge, and has spent much of his life in rural areas, from his childhood on a farm in central Illinois to past ministry jobs in Washington state and Peru.

In God's Country: Faith, Hope and the Future of the Rural Church, Roth argues that rural churches can thrive by making sure the community around them is thriving too, Patricia Middleton reports for The Hutchinson News.

"It’s a way of thinking about the rural church that starts with where the church is at, rather than kind of an idealized vision of the church,” Roth told Middleton. "It begins in that place, but then dreams about where can the church go and how do rural communities thrive and grow."

He may be onto something, since an increased sense of community can help rural residents cope with problems when government resources are scarce.

"Plugging into the daily lives of their communities is vital for churches to reach out to both members and non-members," Roth told Middleton.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Rural Blog is a digest of events, trends, issues, ideas and journalism from and about rural America, by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based at the University of Kentucky. Ssend news and knowledge you think would be useful to al.cross@uky.edu.

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