Rural Church Rising
By Michael Beck
One strategy for moving forward involves looking back. Looking back at all that can be learned from the experience of time, people, and events that have come and gone could help to visualize an innovative future. We as Methodists are looking back to our “treasured inheritance” of the gifts of the early Methodist movement, which are becoming tools for our post-Christendom society today. A moment we can all look back to is April 2, 1739, when John Wesley wrote in his journal, “At four in the afternoon I submitted to be more vile, and proclaimed in the highways the glad tidings of salvation…” When John Wesley took to the fields and beyond the walls of the church, that shift led to one of the most influential movements in Christian history, the Methodist movement.
About one year ago, we started to launch the Fresh Expressions United Methodist Movement through the connection with a single webinar series. What was once one webinar series has become a network of connections with more than 1,500 people registered in various eLearning opportunities throughout the month, free Fresh Expressions coaching with teams across the connection, national training days within the US, and — later this year— our first in-person gathering in partnership with Fresh Expressions Florida. After a year of listening and learning the needs of United Methodist churches, we discerned a need for resources for rural churches. So, we have partnered with Fresh Expressions Florida to host “Rural Church Rising” in Fruitland Park, Florida, October 27-28, 2023.
The Rural Church Rising conference is a two-day conference for lay and clergy people serving in rural contexts. This conference takes place in the North Central District of the Florida Annual Conference, one of the most established rural districts participating in Fresh Expressions of church since it was brought to the United States. Participants in Rural Church Rising will have the opportunity to learn from Elaine Heath, Tex Sample, Stacey Spence, Bishop Berlin, Michael Beck, and more as they gather for an immersive and educational time at the Warren Willis Camp in Fruitland Park. When registering, participants can add a day for the pre-conference and renewal time within the retreat space. The registration price includes meals and lodging within the event space.
Just as John Wesley took to the fields, we hope that you will join us at Fresh Expressions United Methodist as we move beyond the walls. Register below to join us for Rural Church Rising, October 27-28, 2023, in Fruitland Park, Florida.
Michael Beck is the Director of Fresh Expressions United Methodist (FXUM) with Path 1 at Discipleship Ministries.