The Theology News & Notes of Fuller Seminary (Fall Editon) deals with the subject of Emerging Churches within Denominational Structures. The topic is introduced by Eddie Gibbs. One major area of 'church' missed is that of rural ministry. This entry is to attempt to bring this oversight - to bring the rural voice - into the conversation.
The theme of the Federation of Alberta Gas Coops annual Convention in Edmonton (December 1-4) was Rejuvenate the System! People, Projects, Community. During the convention one delegate leaned over to me, knowing I was involved in theology, and asked if I could tell him the difference between ‘emerging’ and ‘emergent’ churches. We decided there was much confusion surrounding the term!
It came as a surprise therefore when upon arriving back home there was in my mailbox the Fall edition of Fuller Theological Seminary’s Theology News & Notes: Emerging Churches within Denominational Structures introduced by one of my past D. Min. mentors Eddie Gibbs. Eddie Gibbs hit the mark when he writes:
“Every new development in the life of the Church triggers responses from different theological positions or cultural and personal dispositions. With the emerging church, however, responses can be even more diverse and intense because the label is applied to such a wide range of fresh expressions of church – whether or not they identify with the term.”
Gibbs continued to indicate that the emerging church is “more of a matrix of networks attracting a range of like-minded travelers” recognizing that “Western societies are moving beyond the context of Christendom which has prevailed for sixteen hundred years.”
According to Gibbs, “the church finds itself increasingly marginalized and no longer a pillar of society” and that “in response to cultural shifts of seismic proportions, emerging churches re-imaginethemselves, seeking to be a missional presence. It is this conviction that lies at the heart of the emerging church conversation." 
I became involved in GOCN with an article titled Ministry at the Margins (September/December 2002 http://www.gocn.org/files/1434-newsletter.pdf#page=1) where I challenged GOCN to take seriously the rural context as an overlooked “marginal” place of ministry. In the Fuller Theology and News that is the basis for this blog entry, there is no mention of any ‘emerging rural church’. But of course there are.
In the book Discovering Hope: Building Vitality in Rural Congregations from The Center for Theology and Land, co-sponsored by Wartburg Theological Seminary and the University of Dubuque Seminary, the question is asked: “Is there hope for congregations in rural settings? Are there rural congregations in rural America discovering hope and vitality? The good news is that there are!"  In this book you can read of 26 Lutheran churches where, quote: “God’s Spirit is breathing new vitality into rural congregations.”
1. In the world of local municipal politics and community development rather than the term ‘re-imagine’ Imagine or envision is being used. This might well be of little consequence but I would encourage you to visit the websites of Imagine Calgary http://www.imaginecalgary.ca/index.php or enVision Montpelier http://www.montpelier-vt.org/planning/envision/index.cfm
2. David Poling-Goldenne and L. Shannon Jung, Discovering Hope: Building Vitality in Rural Congregations, Minneapolis: Augsburg Press, 2001, 15.