The West Ohio Conference Center was the gathering place for 15 United Methodist Rural Advocates (UMRA) leaders from across the U.S. Attendees at the April 21-24 gathering in Worthington, Ohio came from Hawaii, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Mississippi, Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. While the calendar showed that we are technically in the season of Spring, the temperature was more reminiscent of late February.
Left to Right: Roger Grace (West Ohio), Peggy Paige (Michigan), Mollie Stewart (Mississippi) and Randy Wall (North Carolina).
Left to Right: Roger Grace (West Ohio), Debra Ketcham (West Ohio) and Peggy Paige (Michigan).
The origins of UMRA date to the 1940 General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church when rural leaders banded together to work to have their voices heard by the general church. The mission of UMRA is to advocate for the work of Jesus Christ in rural communities. We believe that God has called and gifted us for the task.
The primary purpose of the April meeting was to finalize legislation that UMRA will be proposing for General Conference 2016 in Portland, Oregon. A variety of petitions and resolutions that had been proposed for UMRA submission at the Legislative Consultation in October, 2014 were discussed and approved for sending to the General Conference for consideration.
Also in Worthington to meet with UMRA was a small group of people who are working to find innovative ways to work in solidarity with the poor to help break the cycle of poverty. UMRA is hoping to find ways to work in conjunction with this group as they seek to be in ministry with the poor.
Making a surprise appearance at the West Ohio Conference Center was a family of foxes that live near the chapel on the UMCH Family Services grounds next door. Many times during the day meeting participants were treated to seeing the young kits and their parents playing in the bushes, running, and just being foxes.
For more information about UMRA, visit www.umruraladvocates.org.