Moment for Mission
“We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves.” — Romans 14:7, NRSV
From the beginning, The United Methodist Church’s roots have been firmly planted in small communities and the highways and byways traveled by United Methodist circuit preachers. Most notable is Francis Asbury, who traveled thousands of miles covering the territory between Maine and Georgia.
The United Methodist Church is still present in rural and agricultural areas to this day. In fact, 60 percent of United Methodist churches in the United States are in rural areas.
Rural areas have their own unique experiences, joys and struggles. Many times, the churches in those areas play a vital role in holding a community together. The rural church is uniquely equipped to know the needs of its members and the community surrounding them. On Rural Life Sunday, we affirm those experiences and the work of these rural churches within their communities.
On this day, we also recognize and affirm those engaged in the work of growing the food that feeds the world. We affirm those who are watching the sky hoping for rain and faithfully tending the soil as the unseen growth happens below. It is a life in service to others while also providing for oneself and one’s family. We affirm that we are connected with those who plant, sow and distribute the fruit and vegetables that nurture and sustain us.
Creator of All Life, we thank you for this earth you have created. We thank you for the way that it sustains us. For those who diligently work the soil in order that the rest of us may enjoy the blessing of food and fiber, we give you thanks. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost – O Lord, our God, you graciously welcome all who seek you. We are grateful that you have taught us your commandments so that we may live as people who belong to you. Guide us by your Spirit so that our attitudes toward others and our daily actions will honor you. Let the ministries of our church reach out to show and tell our neighbors of your faithful love. Receive our gifts and offerings for the sake of Jesus, our Lord. (Romans 14:1-12)
Rural Life Sunday is a Sunday set aside to honor and affirm churches and leaders in rural settings, while also honoring the work of those who labor to provide us food and fiber, both in the United States and around the world. On this day, we also celebrate the gifts of creation itself.
Rural churches are a part of our history and our present in The United Methodist Church. These churches have the unique opportunity of anchoring a community and providing outreach to a community that might otherwise be short on resources for individuals and families.
Each annual conference sets the date to celebrate Rural Life Sunday each year. It is sometimes celebrated in conjunction with a Rogation Service, a service that is asking for God’s blessings on the earth and crops, while others include a blessing of the animals on or near this date.
As The United Methodist Church, we affirm the important role rural churches have in our history and in the communities they serve.