A Crisis Of Faith And Farming In Rural America.

3190 words - 13 pages

A Crisis of Faith & Farming in Rural AmericaThe authors of Rural Ministry: The Shape of the Renewal to Come open an intriguing dialogue and discussion concerning the issue of faith and farming. In the opening chapter of this text, the reader is introduced to some basic facts relative to the challenges of people living in rural America. First, farmers who were frequently thought to be the largest segment of the rural population, are in fact fewer in number than at any time since the 1890s. Second, a higher percentage of rural families live in poverty than urban families. Third, these demographic changes have put pressure on the rural church in America to respond to poor people's needs. The authors base their work on the premise that the rural citizens across America are in a state of crisis. Rural people, they contend, are losing their neighbors, houses, land and religion. In fact, according to the Glenmary Research Center in Atlanta, Georgia, the authors assert that at least 40 percent of the people in rural America are unchurched. In the midst of this unhealthy spiritual void, there too is the question of national and global food security and food safety in a world of declining per capita caloric food intake, and an increased concern about toxicity in food supplies. This crisis, moreover, is heightened to even more serious levels by the harsh reality that significant parcels of arable land are being intensely cultivated while rural populations, food supplies, and human demand (consumption) fluctuate. It appears, furthermore, that the unpredictability of farming success, along with acquisitions and buyouts of farmlands across America by government and corporations, has precipitated a farm crisis that not only affects rural families and communities, but also the church who must contribute significantly to the renewal of individual people, the land, and the communities of people rooted in the land. It is in the context of this crisis that I explore the interlinking issue of faith and farming in rural America.Life in rural America has become so desperate that many just give up on farming, their families and even themselves. "It's a way of life," Jim Naylor said at a recent prayer service during the Rally for Rural America in Washington, D.C. He held a sign that said, "No Farms, No Towns, No Future." "If you can't do what you want to do, what you growed up to do, then what's the sense in living?" he asked. Faced with the worst farm crisis in 20 years, more than 2,000 farmers joined Naylor in Washington to rally against the financial and spiritual crises facing rural America. Unlike the natural disasters of the past, farmers say the current crisis is entirely man-made. In all the voices calling for help for rural America, some of the loudest belong to the religious community. Pastors and bishops, according to many sources, say the farm crisis has seeped into America's heartland churches by threatening the vital sense of community, draining...

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