Centre for Rural Community Leadership & Ministry

Recent Activities at CiRCLe M


First Nations-Rural Neighbours Friendship Initiative

CiRCLe M is wanting to help close the gap between First Nations and their neighbouring communities, using churches as bridges for conversation and friendship building. A new project is being developed. more...

Building Bridges to Rconciliation in Rural Alberta: CiRCLe M worked with local people from reserve and town communities in the Wetaskiwin/Hobbema area to develop and hold a public education event, held May 16, 2013. The event brought approximately 400 people from Aboriginal and Settler communities together to learn and talk about their local history and to understand how Indian Residential Schools have impacted citizens. Through various forums,high school students and adults listened to speakers and explored ways to build a hopeful future through building right-relationships. more...


Church and Community Crisis REsponse Training

In 2014 CiRCLe M organized and hosted its second set of training webinars on how town and country churches can better employ their particular gifts in helping their community prepare for and recover resiliently from crisis and disaster. The training was not intended to replace provincial emergency measures, but rather, to enhance those plans and to expand the range of crises considered in emergency planning (such as economic downturns, violent crimes).

Nine communities from AB, SK and MB participated in the webinars. Recordings of the webinars are being used by the participating communties. CiRCLe M is helping the communities to move forward.

Generous financial support for this project came from the Calgary Foundation and the the Lutheran Triune Educational and Benevolent Society of Calgary.

Webinar Details; Webinar Promo Video


Doctoral Degree Program in Rural Ministry and Community Development

CiRCLe M stimulated and contributed to the development and accreditation of the new Doctoral Degree (DMin) offered by the three seminaries of the Saskatoon Theological Union. More...

The second DMin cohort began in August 2012. Students from the first cohort, graduated in spring 2014.


Davidson and Area Rural Spirit Research Project

CiRCLe M, in partnership with Davidson United Church, is looking at how rural people and communities experience fulfillment, deep connection, peace and spiritual growth outside of traditional church programs. more...


Community-Engaged Rural Learning Initiative

Adaptation to rural settings for professionals (such as clergy or doctors) seems to be most dependent on effective early training in a rural setting under strong mentoring. To address this, CiRCLe M has been working with the Alberta Rural Development Network (ARDN) to develop a mentoring program for clergy and others at the internship stage. This initiative is developing ways to bring together different disciplines in 'the rural field' so that they can help and mentor one another. Disciplines represented included theology, community development, education, medicine, pharmacy and agriculture and life science. more ...


Rural Ministry Stories

CiRCLe M believes in the power of 'story' because some of the best and most creative solutions to challenges come out of the people who are living and working in their communities. So we are collecting people's stories and posting them for others to read. more...


Our Newsletter

Every two months or so, we partner with the Canadian Rural Church Network (CRCN) to produce and distribute a newsletter. Subject areas include faith matters, rural life issues, devotional thoughts, rural ministry stories, events, training courses and book reviews. We invite others to contribute. more...


Our Resource Centre

CiRCLe M houses a library of books and other documents. This on-line resource centre contains many resources that are not available from mainstream publishers. Some can be immediately downloaded. Others (i.e. hard-copies) can be borrowed. more...


Rural Ministry Conference:

CiRCLe M hosted its third conference in St. Albert, Alberta in Feb/Mar 2014. Delegates attended from across Canada to explore themes on revitalizing town and country congregations, on strengthening their communities, and on examining relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.. (more...)


What Some of our rural ministry students have been doing

Below is a sample of how our training is affecting the places our students serve.  Estimated economic impact of these initiatives in their communities is conservatively at about $100,000. 

Oyen: Catherine Holland with Local Team

1)   Project:  “Night in Bethlehem.” (read about this event)
a.     Community gathering and major fundraiser for the food bank.
b.    Brought people together to work, play and contribute to their community.
c.     Event relied on people from every organization in Oyen to put it on. 
d.    520 attendeesin 2011 (620 year before, 620 two years before).
e.     Catherine used asset mapping and learning to use what is in the community.

2)   Project:  Build Mental Health Capacity
a.     Formed REAL (Resiliency, Attitude and Life Board) to contribute to the mental health capacity program in the region.
b.    Eleven kids from community participated and/or gave feedback in Appreciative Inquiry (AI) process.
c.     Outcome of AI was to supply Prairie Rose School Division and Alberta Health Services with the kids’ perspectives on what they see as important  in and for their community.  This in turn resulted in REAL Board inviting kids on sit on its board.

3)   Project: Support Oyen Art Club – Studio 9-41
a.     Local artists group (8 seniors) wanted to hold a juried, southern Alberta, art show.  But they didn’t have the resources to make it happen. Catherine helped them to look beyond  to the broader community for help.  They recruited 450 hours of volunteer time (labour, food, cooking, silent auction setup, etc). 
b.     The Art Show raised $2000; 50% of this was donated to the Alberta Arts Club Association; 50% remained with local art club.
c.    CiRCLe M training is helping Catherine to teach other groups that they can reach out into their communities for help and to help.


Wainwright: Anne McGrath

Project (underway): Transferring Family Assets intergenerationally in rural settings:
a.      5 people interviewed (these are people who are in process of transfer)
b.     In addition, lawyer, accountant and farm credit person (FCC) were consulted.  All three are very interested the research she is doing and are willing to work on a local project


Pipestone-Portobello: Tim Wray

Project: Young Adult Photo Voice Project:

  1. 12 young adults from the community participated in a photo voice project  and formal interviews.  Mostly the young adults were not from church. The project brought them together in a way that otherwise would not have happened and some new and meaningful relationships were established. The group put on a photoshow to help the community identify some of its characteristics, needs, assets and gifts.  
  2. About 275 people came out to the photoshow.
  3. 100 people provided feedback on forms including local people and international visitors.  
  4. Follow-up interviews will take place.

Spiritwood and Slave Lake: Leigh Sinclair

Project: Community Crisis Intervention
Leigh is a Saskatchewan STM student who transferred into Alberta from Spiritwood SK.  She has had a great deal of experience with community crisis: her church burned down on her internship (arson);  2 Mounties were shot  in her first parish (Spiritwood) and she had to deal with the crisis and media; she moved to Slave Lake just before the town burned and was flooded.  

Leigh is working on helping these communities in both SK and AB to deal with the devastating social and emotional impacts.  She, with other clergy in Slave Lake, were designated as essential personnel by the province and have been actively involved in a variety of ways in restoring order, sanity and hope in Slave lake.  Leigh has also offered a number of community crisis workshops to clergy and lay people in several conferences.

(Read about the Spiritwood crisis)


NB:  It should be noted that in addition to these cohort students a number of occasional students have taken the STM courses (Master of Sacred Theology in Rural Ministry and Community Development). There are too many to list, but here is a small sample of what students say has directly resulted from their experience in one course taught by Dittmar Muendel in Camrose, AB fall 2010 on assessing community health:  

  • Jeff Decelle, New Norway pastor: --is hosting forum on community resilience in 2012 to deal with question of whether New Norway should remain a village or become a hamlet.  Planted his first garden.
  • Jim Appleby, Armena pastor:  2010 and 2011 gathered a group together and established Armena’s first farmer’s market.
  • Alan Richards, Camrose pastor:  preparing to do a study of Camrose seniors and their experience of change.  Has applied to join next DMin cohort.  Planted his first garden.
  • Carolyn Woodal, Viking pastor: equipped her for work with the Rural Agricultural Renaissance Group in Viking .




"For decades rural communities have been wrestling with "boom and bust" economies."

"Rural Churches are a potent resource for leadership... but their community-building capacity has been under-used."

There is a "need for a Centre that would gather and focus resources for training more effective rural church leadership"