Rev. Sara Wrona, pastor of the Kiski Charge and coordinator of the WPAUMC’s Licensing School, was among more than 35 individuals who participated in the United Methodist Rural Advocates gathering in Minneapolis from Oct. 2-5. During the meeting, the group, all of whom are passionate about small member churches and rural ministries, began working on legislation for the 2020 General Conference.
UMRA is an association of laity and clergy that deals directly with issues related to small membership churches, rural communities, and local pastors.
“I first became aware of UMRA about seven years ago through Sharon Schwab (a retired elder and former Indiana District Superintendent who has been active in the group), said Sara. “The organization then was known as United Methodist Rural Fellowship. In 2012, I attended General Conference to volunteer with UMRF. At that time, they changed their name to United Methodist Rural Advocates because their primary focus is to advocate for small and/or rural church ministries as well as local pastors and certified lay ministers.
“UMRA is also dedicated to helping to provide education and leadership skills for those serving and leading the small and rural churches. This group has been active since the 1940's and has been instrumental in helping local pastors to attain more rights as clergy,” she added.
At the recent UMRA gathering in Minneapolis, the members and other representatives from like-minded organizations began working on legislation to submit to the church for consideration at the 2020 General Conference, Wrona explained.
“This is a consultative process and the legislation still has to be perfected before being submitted, she said. “Our time together was very productive and allowed me to experience a different side of the UM church.
The UMRA Statement of Values says: “The health, vitality, and sustainability of each local congregation should be held as the primary value of the denominational structure. Healthy local churches make new disciples for Christ and the transformation of the world. Legislative changes should: first, do no harm, and second, do all the good possible for the local church.”
For more information about UMRA, visit umruraladvocates.org.