The Project on Rural Ministry will use a $15,000 grant from Leadership Education at Duke Divinity to reflect on the first phase of the innovative Grove City College initiative and make plans for its future.
The Project on Rural Ministry (PRM) works with more than 30 pastors who serve congregations in Appalachia and agricultural and rust belt towns of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and New York. The interdisciplinary effort is intended to discern the joys and challenges of rural ministry and find ways for the College’s faculty, students, staff, alumni, and friends to support and strengthen local churches and communities.
The effort so far has yielded a variety of service and research projects, increased understanding of the key role clergy and their congregations play in building communities of faith, created a network of pastoral fellowship and support, and provided Grove City College new opportunities to serve God and the community.
“We have learned a lot over the past four years,” Charlie Cotherman ’06, PRM program director, said.
The PRM is coming to the end of its initial phase, which was supported by a five-year, $989,582 grant from the Lilly Foundation, a private philanthropic foundation that supports community development, education, and religion. The new $15,000 Reflective Leadership Grant, also funded by Lilly, is intended to give to lay and ordained Christian leaders an opportunity to step away from their current work to reflect on accomplishments, broaden perspectives and discern where they are headed next.
“We intend to keep the best of our previous programming and seek to develop new initiatives based on areas of emphasis we have identified thus far in our work,” Cotherman said.
The project’s faculty leadership will hold a retreat to think strategically about the long-term sustainability of the initiative. They will be working with Ken Smith, professor of Entrepreneurship, and Shannon Barrios, professor of Communications and Visual Arts, to reflect on what has been accomplished and formulate some potential long-term plans.
“It will be good to work with some GCC professors with strong backgrounds in business and nonprofit consulting. We also plan to lean on the pastoral wisdom of a retired pastor who has been a part of our program and who understands the needs of pastors in our region,” Cotherman said.
“It’s exciting to have some focused time away from the hustle and bustle of the college calendar and classes to think, talk, and pray about how we at the PRM and the College can steward the resources God has entrusted to us to bless local pastors, congregations, and the Grove City College community by intentionally partnering with churches in the region,” he said.
In addition to Cotherman, PRM leadership includes Executive Director Seulgi Byun, associate professor and chair of the Department of Biblical and Religious Studies, Assistant Director Michelle McFeaters ’88, ’02, dean of the College of Business and professor of Accounting, Academic Director Paul Kemeny, dean of the Calderwood School of Arts and Letters and professor of Biblical and Religious Studies and Humanities, and Research Director Adam Loretto ’05, associate professor of English.
Going forward, the PRM is looking for funding sources to continue its work. Those interested in supporting the PRM can contact Brian Powell ’03, senior director of development, Grove City College, at 724-458-2992 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more about the Project on Rural Ministry, visit ruralministry.org.