The International Rural Churches Association is a network of people with a passion for rural communities, based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We seek to support one another in our mission of connecting the gospel and rural life in our own local context. We share our stories of struggle and our stories of hope, joined by our reliance on the land and sea for our livelihood and by determination and hope because of faith in the triune God.
Our vision is to be a voice for the rural community worldwide and to encourage sustainable rural communities and practices.
As God’s people we are committed to:
- Sharing the faith, values and hopes of the Kingdom of God in Rural Communities worldwide.
- Encourage and promoting the Christian ministry and mission of local congregations through local, regional and national ecumenical gatherings of the Christian Church.
On a worldwide basis, in cooperation with other appropriate entities, we work to:
- Facilitate the sharing of ideas, information and insights.
- Offer mutual support and fellowship.
- Represent the needs and concerns of rural communities, churches and institutions to both secular and church decision-making bodies.
- Encourage and initiate research, writing and the production of other resource materials relevant to rural life and ministry.
- Arrange continuing programmes for conferences and seminars.
Our Statement of Faith
- We affirm the central truths of the Christian Faith as expressed in the Bible and historic creeds.
- We believe the whole creation belongs to God – the land, the waters and all creatures. We believe that God seeks all creation to be cherished.
- We affirm that, in Jesus Christ incarnate, God’s love for all humanity is expressed. The knowledge that Jesus stands beside them can encourage rural people in their struggles. This knowledge is power for personal, social and economic transformation.
- We believe the Holy Spirit works to bring order out of chaos as the whole creation groans for its fulfillment. The Spirit inspires the church to cooperate in this mission.
- We acknowledge different emphases within the various Christian denominations. We recognise that some denominations are more at ease than others in drawing on insights from secular theory and practice.
In 1993, a small group of international rural church leaders gathered in England to celebrate 21 years of the Arthur Rank Centre. This ecumenical centre is the focus for the rural work of all the churches of Great Britain and helps the churches understand their rural context much more clearly. Plans were made for a future international conference.
“Rural Culture and Spirituality” was the theme of the conference held in Durham, England in August 1998. About 100 people from a variety of countries attended and at the end of the Conference the International Rural Church Ecumencial Association, as it was then called, was established (IRCEA).
The first Secretary of the association was Michael Cruchley, the Director of the Arthur Rank Centre at the time. Lloyd Vidler, a minister with the Uniting Church of Australia, was appointed the first Chairperson.
A Council for World Mission school in South Africa in 1999 and a meeting of overseas participants of the Trans-Tasman Rural Ministry Conference in Northland, New Zealand in 2000 helped links develop further. The Rev B.D. Prasada Rao was at each of these and through his efforts and encouragement, the Church of South India became the host for the second conference in Chennai, November 2002.
The proposed 2006 3rd conference in Korea did not proceed, but Rev Catherine Christie and the Canadian Rural Churches Network entered the breach and agreed to host the third conference in Brandon, Manitoba, July 2007.
The 4th Conference held in Altenkirchen, Germany in September, 2010, saw IRCA take its next step in adopting a constitution and seeking greater “legitimacy” and connection with denominations and the World Council of Churches.
The 5th conference was in Lilongwe, Malawi in July 2014. At this event the CEO of the Arthur Rank Centre, Jerry Marshall. was appointed Chair. In 2016, for administrative simplicity, the committee asked the Arthur Rank Centre to hold and manage the accounts under the supervision of the IRCA Executive Treasurer.
The 6th conference, “Growing Together” was held in April 2018 in Lincoln, New Zealand. As well as two excellent key notes, we took a learning community approach and provided the 100 delegates with the material to be adapted for their own context. The local team were superb and the event was very enthusiastically received. Rev Dr Mark Yackel-Juleen was appointed Chair.
News, Resources and Prayers through IRCA
Rural Christians around the world share news, details of rural resources, prayer requests and items for reflection through our occasional e-news in a regular emailing. Fill in the simple form on the ‘Join’ page.
If you want to belong to IRCA, simply go to the ‘Join’ page. Individuals, congregations, church boards, Synods or bodies associated with rural ministry are welcome to join the IRCA network.
We rely on donations as well as membership to enable us to support the rural church. Please donate here.