Dr Heather Major, chair, Scotland, is the current chairperson for IRCA. She is Canadian by birth and Scottish by association, having lived in Scotland since 2009. She has a PhD in Practical Theology, Rural Church and Mission from the University of Glasgow and a Master’s degree in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.
She is passionate about both practical or contextual ministry and holistic biblical theology that uses both the Old and New Testament. In September 2023, she will begin a four year appointment as ‘Research Fellow in New Places for New People, Evangelism and Growth’ with Cliff College and the Methodist Church in Britain where she will be involved in researching, teaching, training and equipping people for local and contextual ministry.
Rev Eric Skillings, secretary, Canada. Eric has been secretary since 2010. He is married to Annette (who shares his passion for Rural Ministry), and they have two children and 3 grandchildren. Eric was born and raised on a dairy farm and grew up in the local rural church.
He has been engaged in Rural Ministry in South Western Ontario in Canada for 25 years and is committed to Rural Ministry, connected to Rural Ministry across Canada and the United States.
Eric enjoys meeting new folks and hearing their stories.
Rev Dr Mark Yackel-Juleen, immediate past chair, USA, is a 1989 graduate of Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary in St. Paul, MN and was ordained in October of that year. In 1992, he and his spouse Margaret founded Shalom Hill Farm, a rural ministry education and retreat center in southwestern Minnesota where he served as executive director until 2017.
In 2004, he received a Doctor of Ministry degree from Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN—his research focused on factors that impact satisfaction and effectiveness for pastors serving in small town and rural settings. In 2015 Mark was appointed as Director for Small Town and Rural Ministry with the Center for Theology and Land. He has served the church in various capacities over the years but his deepest roots are in small town and rural congregations.
Papa Dave Ruesink, member emeritus, historian, USA
Rev Dr Robyn McPhail, communications, Aotearoa New Zealand. Robyn grew up on a sheep farm in Eastern Southland in a family in which faith, farming, and community were interwoven. Educated in Philosophy, science, and Theology, she has ministered in rural parishes in Central Otago, Mid-Canterbury, and Te Tai Tokerau/ Northland. In her words:
Now I’ve retired from parish ministry, my husband and I have returned south to Alexandra, with family nearby and close to our favourite lakes and rivers and mountains. Regular visits to or from family who live further afield mean we spend quality time with delightful grandchildren, helping out especially in school holidays. In terms of ministry, my primary focus now, alongside volunteer and casual ambulance work (a very special kind of community ministry), is on being a rural ministry networker, keeping us connected and facilitating, where I can, the flourishing of rural life and faith in the 21st century. IRCA has been faith family for me for many years and I hope I can be of use for plenty more.
Bishop Dr Andrew Wafula, Kenya. Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ our LORD. My full name is ANDREW WAFULA WANYONYI. The Bishop of New Covenant Assembly. This is an Apostolic Church that was founded by me with several pastors. I am the Presiding Bishop of New Covenant Assembly. I have a Diploma in Theology, a Bachelor’s Degree in theology, a Masters Degree in Christian Leadership and Administration and a Doctor of Philosophy in Christian Ministry.
I taught English and Swahili as a professional teacher for 17 years before resigning to become a full-time Minister of the Gospel. I now represent Africa as a Co-ordinator for IRCA.
Bishop Deva Prasada Rao Boyineni, India has been in the pastoral ministry of CSI Rayalaseema Diocese since 1979 in almost all rural parishes. He worked as a director in CSI Synod for 7 years, deputed as an Ecumenical coworker to the Presbyterian Church of Korea for 3 years, elected as Bishop of Ryalseema diocese in 2013 and retired in 2019.
Prasad was key to the conference in Chennai, South India in 2002 and is one of IRCA “elders”. He is presently involved in a rural ministry named KORIND Mission in both CSI and CNI, recently extending his ministry to the Anglican Church of Kenya. He is also coordinating the mission work of MPI, a wing of the Reformed Church of America. He resides in his own house in Kurnool town with his wife Lily Elizabeth. His daughter Jerusha is a scientist at the University of Illinois, his son Shalom works as Engineer for Bosch Bangalore, and his last daughter Jael is a data analyst for an Irish company.
Rev June Hee Kim, South Korea, was born in Seoul, Korea. He graduated from Sogang University as a philosophy major (B.A), from Hanshin Seminary (Th.M), and is studying at Pyeongtaek University’s Graduate School of Interpreting and Translation. Ordained at Seoul East Presbytery of PROK in 2012. June is minister of Gowon Church in Jinan, Korea. In his words:
A warm welcome to everyone. I am a preacher serving a small rural church in Korea. My wife and I are raising a 10-year-old boy. A working preacher, I am interested in small church ministry. like many rural preachers. Outside of my ministry, since 2020 I have been giving agriculture and forestry lessons to city dwellers around the country who desire to start a rural life . In addition, I instruct fly fishing and casting to people of all skill levels. I am running a modest greenhouse farm growing blueberries and asparagus. I have authored nine books on various subjects and translated one book into Korean.
Rev. Márk László Gyula, Romania, is a Transylvanian Reformed pastor, member of the European branch of IRCA since 2010, who has already served as a speaker at several IRCA conferences or participated as a simple member. He serves in Eastern Europe – Romania, in one of the Hungarian Reformed churches belonging to the Transylvanian Reformed Church District. He also served in a rural environment for several years.
Married, the father of 2 daughters, he has been serving as a pastor for 27 years, and he has always been interested in the nature of rural church service and improving the quality of service and life of pastors serving in the countryside. He is open to learning and discovering new things and for ecumenical relationship. He considers the service of Christ, the commitment to the service of other people, to be his important task.
IRCA North America:
Vicar Lisa Robison, USA , was born in Hartley, a small rural town in Northwest Iowa. She now lives in Iowa Falls, Iowa, with her husband, Ryan, and their three children. Rylee(14), Davis(8), and Kalel(6). Lisa serves cross denominationally in both an ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) congregation and a United Church of Christ Congregation. She is in her fourth year of serving and will graduate with a Masters of Divinity from Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, in May and will be ordained in June.
Lisa is currently part of a team working on research in the area of women serving in small town and rural ministry. This research is being conducted to aid in the establishment of resources for the large number of women who are serving in that context. She is also in the process of writing her master’s thesis on the necessity of clergy serving in rural contexts to receive mandatory mental health training. She is passionate about rural ministry and the education and support of clergy in rural contexts. In addition to sitting on the executive board of IRCA, Lisa is also a member of the Rural Church Network of the United States and Canada, as well as her local ministerial associations.
Rev Dr Inba Inbarasu, India and USA
Papa Dave Ruesink, USA
Rev Catherine Christie, Canada, is a retired minister of the United Church of Canada (35 years in service). She has lived in many areas of this wide country, studying in Ottawa (BA) and in Halifax (M.Div), and serving in congregations on the prairies. She was married for 25 years and has two grown children (Tim and Sue) and two grandchildren (Rebecca and Stanley).
Catherine was invited to attend IRCA in Chennai in 2002, and has been involved ever since, serving on the planning team for Brandon Conference in 2007 and a term as Chair, during the quadrennial when we were preparing to go to Malawi in 2014. She spent 7 years before retirement working as Overseas Personnel of the United Church in Korea, which widened her knowledge of Asian rural communities a great deal. To keep busy, she chairs the United Church Rural Ministry Network (national) and the Centre for Rural Community Leadership and Ministry (prairie, ecumenical), sits on the local library board, and leads worship twice a month with the Worship Circle in United churches in the southwest corner of Saskatchewan.
IRCA-Oceania: Rev Dr Robyn McPhail, Aotearoa New Zealand
Rev Matt Jeffrey, Arthur Rank Centre, UK