Rural Ministry

Rural ministry

Rural congregations represent more than half of the congregations in our Evangelical Lutheran Church in American (ELCA). This means the health and vitality of these congregations is of significant importance to the church as a whole. Rural congregations matter! They are the church! 


Like individual raindrops that fall on the fields of North Dakota, each congregation has a unique context and place. Dozens of factors contribute to the look and feel of a particular congregation in a particular place. The age of the congregation; its history and ethnic background; the gifts of its present members; the community where it is planted; the focus of the community in terms of jobs and economy; the length of pastorates; and whether it's a single-point or multi-point parish are just some of the influences that gives a congregation its orientation and character. A key to fruitful ministry is acknowledging, celebrating, and using the gifts of a congregation's place and its people. 


We value and celebrate rural ministry in our synod and seek ways to come along side to encourage and support the congregational vitality of all STaR (small town and rural) congregations in our synod.

ELCA Multi-Point Resource


Dear Friends in Christ,

This has been a year when across much of Eastern North Dakota Synod, the rains were either too early or too late; too much or too little. Combined with a weak market and tariffs, our farmers and ranchers are facing another challenging year. As I drive this synod and beyond, everywhere I look, I see crops in the field waiting to be harvested.  Now, as if an uncooperative planting season, low commodity prices and tariffs weren’t stressful enough, the fall harvest is bringing challenges which I have never witnessed in my lifetime.  As I write, North Dakota is in the midst of an early snowstorm.  Harvest will be delayed, diminished, or devastated.

I cannot imagine the emotional strain and anxiety being born by our farmers/ranchers and their families. Depression will be a reality for many. Suicide rates could climb. Feelings of failure and anxiety about the future are rampant, especially when families are managing Century Farms.  All these challenges, especially the current rain and snow, will put stress on our rural communities.

What can we do?  Eastern North Dakota Synod is organizing a Faith and Farm Coalition.  This group is dedicated to providing resources and ideas for supporting farm and ranch families.  Stay tuned.  In the meantime, I urge you to raise awareness in your congregation.  Let people know how they can get a hold of a pastor and/or counselor.   Learn more about what hurts our farmers and ranchers. Reach out to your neighbors who farm, raise livestock, run grain elevators, own farm implement dealerships, or depend on farm income to sustain their local businesses and offer them your support and assistance.

There is also a great resource available from our partners at Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota. Visit The information on this site is available in a great pocket-sized handout; copies of that can be requested though

Bootstraps card PDF version

Together, let us pray:

Gracious God, O God,

The rain and snow is falling.  The costs are up and the prices are down. For many, the payments are due and there’s no money in the account. Lord, use us so that those who are struggling don’t feel alone or feel like failures in their efforts to steward your creation.  We know there are those who feel the harder they work, the worse it seems to get. Strengthen those who have lost laughter, joy or hope.  Hold our farm families close as we do our best to know and act according to your will in the days ahead.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

In Christ,

 Bishop Terry A. Brandt


NDSU Extension

U of M Extension Financial Counseling

  • 1800-232-9077
  • 1:1 help for farmers who have financial difficulties
  • Financial analysts: 12 retired bankers, farm business management instructors
  • Free and confidential

Abound Counseling at LSSND

  • offers in-person and telehealth counseling services
  • call 701-223-1510

First Link Help Line

  • call 2-1-1

National suicide-prevention hotline

  • 1-800-273-8255

Dedicated Farm Counselor/Therapist

  • Ted Matthews - 320-266-2390
  • Meets with farmers and farm families 1:1
  • no insurance, no paperwork
  • No charge; funded by MN Legislature

MN Farm and Rural Helpline

  • 833-600-2670
  • Free, confidential, 24/7

ND Agriculture Department Credit Counseling Services

12 Ways to Guide Farmers to Legal Resilience

  • resource from Farm Commons
  • designed for non-lawyers who work with farmers