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IRCA2022 Sharing Stories and Prayer Around the World

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Rev Dr Mark Jackel-Juleen introduces the 2022 ZOOM event and invites us all to the planned face t0 face conference in Dubuque, Iowa USA in 2023.

IRCA 2022 Round the World

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Networking for prayer and conversation

with video, worship and presentations

7-8 March 2022 

Because we are unable to meet face to face this year for our regular Quadrennial Conference, the IRCA Leadership decided to set up a 24 hour opportunity to connect and pray together as rural churches around the world. We will be online on ZOOM for the whole 24 hours which means that anywhere in the world you can join at a time that suits you.

The Lutheran Seminary’s Center for Theology and Land in Dubuque, Iowa, USA is hosting its regular annual rural ministry conference and our plan is to link up to their opening sessions. (This Seminary is where IRCA 2022 was originally going to be held, now postponed to 13-20 April 2023.) The Rev Dr Mark Yackel-Juleen, Director for Small Town and Rural Ministry at the Center and Chairperson of IRCA will open the ZOOM session at 1500GMT. Following this will be Bible Study led by Dr Craig Nessan and the Keynote Speaker Rev Melanie Mullen. Heather Major from IRCA’s Leadership Group will lead us in a time of prayer and connecting and then we will head off around the world, an hour at a time, in different countries moving west around the globe.

People from anywhere in the world can join us on ZOOM during the 24 hours: you can come and go as you wish. Click here for the detailed programme and REGISTER to be ready to receive the ZOOM link prior to the start.

Connecting Communities in Prayer

Networking across cultures and borders


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The latest edition of the Australian rural ministry magazine Ruminations is now available. Click here to access from this website. Or go to source where you can also access earlier editions.

The theme for this Spring/Summer 2021 edition is “RENEWING”. In his introduction editor Mark Faulkner says, “Each of our contributors have, completely independently of each other, reminded us that renewing is a particular occurrence that takes place outside of the ordinary. It is in Sabbath. grief, loss, seeking, honesty, separation, and discernment that the seeds of renewing can be planted. Renewing, as our authors tell us, comes with an element of surprise and is a gift to us, even a divine blessing and does not come without work, struggle, effort and yet is a human responsibility.”

Take a read and be inspired. However different your context may be, there will be something that connects for sure. For that is the nature of the gospel.

Gleanings of a Prairie Pastor

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Joyce Sasse has penned this collection of rural community memories and writings which is available to download as an e-book. It contains the fruits of her many years as a rural minister with the United Church of Canada, with themes that will relate to many, in terms of the rural context or of being a pastor to people, as they are and where they are.

Click here to access the ebook.

IRCA-Europe Conference 2021

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Postponed from from 2020 due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, IRCA-Europe will gather at the end of May and work together on the theme of “Sourdough for the Land”.

Rural Church representatives are invited to Sibiu/Hermannstadt in Romania from 31 May to 3 June 2021.

In the words of the organisers:

The biblical image of the sourdough bears in this days a stronger importance than ever. In times when we talk about reconstruction and resilience it is important to see what the role of churches in general and the importance of rural communities in particular can be. This will be the theme and main motivation of our conference in Sibiu. As Christians we carry the responsibility not just for our own families, our direct environment and our communities in which we are active, but also far beyond these.

According to that, we want to value the days in Sibiu by informing about the activities of the european rural churches, listen to a presentation about the contribution of churches for a sustainable Europe and also place on our agenda the engagement of the Orthodox Church in Romania upon the preservation of the environment.  At an appointment in Rășinari we will get an inside view in the illegal logging of the forests and the local mayor will speak about the sustainable alpine pasture in this area.

Our programme is embedded in morning and evening prayers, in listening to the word of God and in the praise and gratitude for Him keeping us alive until now. This unifying force of the Christian faith and Christian hope gives us strength not just for our work in the different regions of Europe, but also across all borders.

IRCA-Oceania Questionnaire 2020

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Unable to gather in Queensland, Australia this year because of the pandemic, the Leadership Group of IRCA-Oceania has put together a questionnaire seeking stories and ideas from the people who might have gathered and indeed from all who are the heart and soul of rural churches in the Oceania region.

The theme of the planned conference was “Bringing Hope in Challenging Times”, a theme which became even more relevant when Covid-19 hit. We’d like to be able to share our stories of hope, as well as share the challenges we’re facing and how we have responded and continued to be church for our communities.

If this is your region of the world, you can download the questionnaire here and send it to the email address at the end of the form.

Verse of the day
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

– Psalm 46:1 (NIV)
Voice of the day
What we all need to do is find the wellspring that keeps us going, that gives us the strength and patience to keep up this struggle for a long time. 

– Winona LaDuke
Prayer of the day
Creator God, we are in dire straits. Show us the best path for us to take at this time so our energies and strength will be directed by You. We cannot do this without You. 

– Sojourners Reader

From Verse and Voice,

New Year Message from the Chair

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

We have entered a new year and a new decade.  In many ways and in many places, it is a time of fear and travail.  Wildfires rage in Australia and intentional fires ravage the Amazon Rainforest.  Glaciers melt and sea levels are rising globally as the planet warms and people of coastal towns and villages are forced to leave their homes for higher ground.  Climate change is challenging the production of food.  St. Paul’s words to the Romans seem more important than ever,

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; …that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  Romans 8:19,21

Conflicts and wars continue to displace people by the millions, many of them rural.  And the people who live on and tend the land of God’s creating continue to seek to provide sustenance, food and fiber, to a rapidly growing population and a dramatically changing world. 

But there is great hope as God leads us into the future.  As God’s people around the world we have just celebrated the birth of Christ and now in Epiphany, we celebrate his revelation.  At this time, we often turn to the words of the Evangelist John,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it…. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. John 1:1-5, 9

Where there is light, there is the potential to see.  There is the potential for vision.  The Light that is Christ Jesus makes vision possible.  Where I live 20/20 refers to clear vision.  May the year 2020 be a year of clear vision in the Light of Jesus Christ.  May this year be the beginning of a decade of clearer vision of God’s purpose and mission for God’s people and God’s creation.  For in that Light and that Vision is true hope.

When we gather again as an organization in two years (2022), we will address some of these issues of climate change and people migration.  Please know that the coordinating leaders of IRCA meet regularly and we pray for you and the mission and ministry of Christ’s church in your place.

Blessings Upon You and Your People and Your Land,

Rev. Dr. Mark Yackel-Juleen


Pray for those affected by bush fires in Australia

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A video has been produced and prayers written by IRCA members in the Oceania region. They have been posted on the IRCA Facebook page but copied and pasted here for those not on Facebook. Many thanks to Martin Harrison.

Prayers for the Bush fires
Show Movie reflection
Give a few moments of silence after
Jude and Andy Benton have reflected that “ it is akin to the kaikoura earthquake situation. We have both been under the pump since then, Jude helping arrange the evacuation, find beds etc, and me playing traffic control, and loading supplies. It will be a long recovery. “
In time the smoke will clear and all the losses will be known. The world media will find other stories but for those of us that have journed through these fires will have had our life changed for ever. Help us and those that we live in community with to support and look after each other. May we in time find and see new life.
Help us as the Christian community to hold the Christ light for all through this time.

Hand a bowl of ash around the church and invite people to tak a pinch of it and rub it on their palm or between their fingers. As they do think and pray for the communities affected . Think of the harrowing situation being faced and the long clean up ahead. Everything is black & it gets under your fingernails & into every wee crevice in the skin. In 1 Cor 12:26 St Paul says If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing.(message translation). Our brothers and sisters are hurting pray for them and ask how you can be used by God as part of the healing required.

Hand out a glass of water to everyone and invite everyone to drin ,reflect and pray. As you drink it think of how important it is. Water is a basic necessity of life. It can douse a fire and it can bring to life creation and sustain life. Pray for those effected by the fires. As you drink aask God to quench the thirst of the needy.
End with the Lords prayer

Invite people to write a personal message at the end of the service. Do some research and find a church community within the Bush fire areas and email them photographs of the pages of messages and Let them know you prayed for them.

2018 Conference Feedback

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Thank you, all those who attended the conference in Lincoln New Zealand and who filled in the feedback form. A brief summary of the points made, together with areas for reflection and ideas for topics for future events can be found here: NZ feedback report.

2018 Conference Materials

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Feedback from the 2018 New Zealand conference was very positive: “Amazing experience” “What a gift“. In particular the keynotes and learning community materials were much appreciated: “Fabulous – touched my heart” “Awesome and really helpful” “Extremely valuable” and “Inspiring!

These materials are now online. Click here and scroll to the bottom for keynote transcripts and PowerPoint presentations. A selection of photos can be found here.

Many thanks to our speakers, organisers, photographer and everyone who came and shared so much of their life and ministry. Looking forward to the next one in 2022!