Doug Walrath took a last look at small church life, shortly before he retired in 1990 from Bangor Seminary, by doing a study of rural pastors in New England. He was critical of most of them at two points: (1)they were informed by Industrial Age thinking which stresses efficiency, standardization, tasks more than relationships, and the concept that there is “one best way to do things”; (2)many just passed through on their way to the city.
On scores of occasions across several years a minister, one whom I had just met at some meeting at which I had spoken, has identified himself as being “just a country preacher”. The implication seemed to be that he was somehow inferior to those men who pastor those huge mega churches of modern suburbia. But then, in one of those wonderful inspired moments, God’s Holy Spirit prompted me to reply, “So was Jesus”.
"Pleased and honored to have this opportunity to lead your time of worship this morning, in part because much of what I have become is the consequences of the mission of this seminary. I am in my 12th year of working with the rural church program of our denomination. I must confess that almost 40 years ago when I was a member of the founding class at Midwestern, the idea that I would serve in this role was not even remotely a part of my vision."
A listing of concerns facing rural pastors designed for group discussions.
A listing of local resources available to rural pastors designed for group discussion.
It has been six years since I became the associational missionary down in Pickens. I moved there from Atlanta where I had directed the rural church program of the Southern Baptist Convention for nearly 13 years. Six months before that in the summer of 1997 I had lost that job due to the reorganization of the denomination. I was hurt and felt betrayed. I knew that the original plan for reorganization had me continuing in my old role and the program expanded with an associate. But in the final plan I was out…My first event in Pickens was an over-night pastors’ retreat at a remote cabin. About 17 or 18 of us attended.