The United Methodist Rural Advocates (UMRA) was well-represented in the leadership of the event. Rev. Ed Kail, Iowa, Rev. Deborah Ketcham, West Ohio, Rev. Bill Kemp, New York, Mrs. Judy Hill, Colorado, all UMRA Executive Committee current or former members, Rev. Sharon Schwab, W. Pennsylvania was one of the opening plenary session speakers. Her topic was Shifts and their Impact.
Other workshops led by UMRA leaders were: Community Development in Eradication of Poverty, Rev. Alan Rice, N. Carolina and Rev. Randy Wall, N. Carolina; Models of Networking and Resourcing, Rev. Ed Kail and Mr. Dave Ruesink, Texas Hope and Advocacy for Smaller Membership Churches, Rev Roger Grace, Ohio; New Context for Community Outreach, Rev. Don Ford, Colorado. Don also served as a Panel Member for a discussion of Leveraging New Dollars and Partners.
Bishop James Swanson was the preacher for the Thursday evening opening worship and challenged participants to live in hope. Music for the event was provided by SoulFruit, a Gospel group. Rev. Liberato Bautista, (United Nations & General Board of Church and Society) spoke on "The Trust Factor". Mr. George Howard, Deputy General Secretary for Mission and Justice of the General Board of Global Ministries spoke on Relevance and Hope.Rev. LeKisha Reed, GBGM, is the staff person at the General Board who has the Rural Urban Network in her portfolio.
By Rev. Roger L. Grace