Witness: Spiritual Leadership in Rural America

On June 22nd & 29th, the Rural Assembly, The On Being Project, Interfaith Youth Corps, and Faith Matters Network will come together to host a set of sessions for spiritual leaders in rural America. This two-part series is intended for rural & Native spiritual leaders who’ve been on the front lines of social healing work over the last year: facing the challenges of the pandemic, responding to calls for social and racial justice, and grappling with how we build more just and inclusive communities. 

This gathering is an opportunity to find nourishment. Through storytelling and witness, we will celebrate, accompany, and embolden the healing work we do in our communities. We’ll work across two, two-hour sessions to connect you to other rural & Native practitioners across the country; facilitate the exchange of stories about joys and trials from the last year; and share lessons across diverse traditions and geographies. 

Why Now?

As a nation we are at an inflection point, struggling to align our professed values with the messy reality of doing life together. In rural, tribal, and small towns, spiritual practice has always been an important touchstone for navigating those realities. Our spiritualities are reference points for how we perceive our neighbors and a proving ground for how we show up for one another in difficult times. 

The last year amplified the disparities and challenges we face in rural America, from lack of essential services like broadband and healthcare to increasing rates of poverty, food insecurity, and isolation. It also stretched the competencies and capacities of our spiritual leaders, challenging them to navigate a public health crisis, hold space for communal grief, find creative approaches to prayer and ritual, and organize for the urgent work of social healing and repair.

In response to what this season has entailed, we invite religious and spiritual leaders from rural places, small towns, and tribal lands to join us for a conversation to reflect on the role of religious and spiritual leadership in this moment–to acknowledge the challenges and tend to the hope that yet resides.

Who is this for?

We welcome all rural & Native spiritual leaders, both those who carry a formal title and those who do not. Spiritual leadership takes many forms of seeking and facilitating the renewal of inner life, outer life, and life together. If you are engaged in social healing work in your community, organization, or network, or if you are a rural leader rooted in a spiritual practice or faith community, this gathering is for you.   

Why do we gather?

We desire to

  • Connect practitioners with one another, across geographies, experiences, and organizations;

    Create a space that nourishes and shores up our bodies, minds, and souls;

  • Engage in storytelling to acknowledge and seek to understand the challenges/opportunities rural & Native spiritual leaders face, particularly during this time of pandemic, political division, and movements for racial justice and healing;
  • Demonstrate/Share practices learned from ongoing faith-based collaborations, i.e. Disciplines of Welcome


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