Submitted by Catherine Christie
Besides being on United Church Rural Ministry Network, Eric Skillings and I are on the Executive of the International Rural Churches Association. Let me share with you some history of IRCA. There was an international meeting in England in 1998, when participants (Joyce Sasse was there from rural Canada ministries) decided to found IRCA. It was decided to hold an international conference every 4 year (a quadrennial conference). The first conference was in Chennai in 2002, then in Canada (Brandon, Manitoba) in 2006, in Germany in 2010, in Malawi in 2014, and in New Zealand in 2018. I have been at all of the conferences since 2002, was the head of the planning committee for the event in Canada, and served a term as Chairperson. While I was Chair, the conference was held in Malawi, Africa, which was quite a challenge, but wonderful.
This year, the conference was supposed to be in the spring of 2022 at Wartburg Seminary in Iowa, USA, (present IRCA Chair is Rev. Dr. Mark Yackel-Juleen, on faculty of Wartburg) but it has been postponed due to Covid. What we plan in its place is to hold a 24-hour global prayer service to be held on Zoom in early March of 2022, March 7/8, that will proceed from area to area, country to country, throughout the time zones of the world, sharing reports and presentations from different rural communities, holding up prayer needs, and then concluding the hour with time of prayer before the Zoom broadcast is picked up by another host.
Two Canadian hosts are making plans now for the time, and all our UCRMN membership is invited to share, either in the Canadian section, or to see what is taking place in other countries. There will be more information, schedule, registration, etc. in coming newsletters.