Title

Seeking sustainability for the St. Paul and Mountain Grove United Methodist Churches utilizing a rural/agricultural model.

Date of Award

5-1-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

School

Drew Theological School

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

Abstract

This project seeks to develop a congregational development model for rural churches utilizing concepts from the sustainable agriculture movement. It has a theological foundation in the Walter Brueggemann's book "The Land," and in the writings of Wendell Berry. Biblical foundations come from certain key gospel passages drawn from agricultural life. It includes a recap of the six sessions developed for teaching this ideas to St. Paul United Methodist Church and Mountain Grove United Methodist Church. It also includes a conversation with a local Amish farmer. The underlying premise of this project is that rural congregations would benefit from having a model that is primarily based on the farming principles they are familiar and comfortable with. The model seeks to find a way to help these small membership churches, which exist at a subsistence level, and find a way to become more sustainable so as to provide a clearer vision for the future. It also seeks to take seriously the consequences of what can happen if sustainability is not achieved. It utilizes commonly used aspects of congregational development, such as demographics and asset identification, but does so using the language of vineyards, planting seeds, and distinguishing between wheat and weeds. Each congregation was given an opportunity to develop a list of ideas that they believed would help provide a more sustainable future. The document also contains a glossary explaining different types of agricultural models and a PowerPoint presentation that was used during the class sessions.