By Rev. Catherine Christie
The Rural Church Network (RCN) of the USA and Canada used to be made up primarily of denominational executives who had a rural interest as part of their responsibility (i.e. the Rural Desk at National offices). Today the RCN has evolved and adapted to the times. It is made up of seminaries and non-profit agencies with a rural component. RCN meets in the spring and the fall of each year, at which time they seek local orientation to the rural life of where they visit.
In June of 2024, RCN has asked to come to Canada, and CiRCLe M (Centre for Rural Community Leadership and Ministry) out of Saskatoon Theological Union will host them. They will be housed at Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre in Cochrane, in close proximity to Calgary. Folks will fly into Calgary airport on June 18, and be transported to Cochrane by CiRCLe M members. That evening after supper there will be a worship and social time.
On Wednesday, RCN will have a morning meeting, and in the afternoon will take a short field trip to either the Wray Ranch in Irricana (Faith and Farming – YouTube) or Land of Dreams, an urban farming initiative in partnership with the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, a place that builds connections between Indigenous peoples and newcomers to Canada.
Thursday, there will be two major trips. The first will take us to Morley, a Stoney Nakota community in the foothills. There we will hear about the development of the Indigenous Day of Prayer which began in Morley through the initiative of Chief Rev. John Snow, Sr. (The Day of Prayer is June 21, a day of National Recognition). Elder Glenda Crawler and Trudy Wesley of Morley are Board members of CiRCLe M (see and hear them at Circle M Orange Shirt – YouTube).
Later the group will proceed to Banff, to enjoy the scenery of this famous National Park and hear the story of rural Church life in a tourist region. Many parishioners of Rev. Kevin Driver’s Full Gospel congregation are migrant workers who come to work at one of the many hotels in Banff. After supper in Banff, we will return to Cochrane.
After breakfast on the 21st, the conference ends and people will return to Calgary airport. If participants wish to stay in Calgary for National Indigenous Peoples Day, arrangements can be made.
The cost of accommodation for the 3 nights is $360 Canadian dollars.
Those interested in registering for this event, please contact Catherine Christie, Chair, Centre for Rural Community Leadership and Ministry