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I am a Rural Pastor by Rev. Brooke Apple Phelps of Hoople, ND

My congregation: First Lutheran Church in Hoople, ND

Years at this call: 5 years (Since June 1st, 2017)

What I love about my call: The people at First are flexible, caring, and passionate about their faith. I love that I can be vulnerable with them not only in casual conversations, but also from the pulpit. I love that I have some freedom to be present in the community with working at the food pantry, going to the schools, and having flexibility with my office schedule. I love how the people here have embraced all the changes in my life since starting here from getting married to having a baby.

What I enjoy about rural/small town life: My favorite thing about living in a rural town is that when I see someone at the post office or the bank, they know who I am and I know them or I quickly learn who they are. Something else that really makes me enjoy living in a rural community is that the church and the school seem to be the center of community gatherings.

Advice for other rural pastors: As a rural pastor thinking about a rural call, I urge you to be open minded to what you will experience and how the people will challenge and uplift you. So many times I feel that people think rural churches are filled with aging people and lack youth, but this is not always true. Be prepared to need to set boundaries as well in that if you don’t people will ask you at any time about things church related. Don’t be afraid to remind people that you a human being and that you need some time away from the church some days too.

What I wish people knew about rural ministry: Rural ministry can be a challenge but it can also be extremely life-giving and fun. People in rural context what to hear your stories as well as for you to listen and hear their stories. They love tradition, but if you approach change with good reason they are open to try many things.

My hobbies: My newest hobby is being a mom to a baby and a stepmom to an 8 year old. This includes balancing caring for the baby as well as playing with and helping coach the 8 year old baseball team. I really enjoy working out, fishing with my family, and traveling. Exercise and healthy eating are my outlets that help me in my ministry and in my personal

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