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Growing God’s kingdom: A rural ministry team model

By: Doreen Gosmire, director of communications, Dakotas UMC

Gayville Umc Front

In August, about 10-15 people gathered for worship at the United Methodist Church in Gayville, South Dakota. Now an average of 30 people are worshipping on Sundays. There is talk of starting a confirmation class forming.

Gayville-Volin UMC is living into a new ministry model. A team of five offers pastoral leadership for worship, care ministry, and education. The group includes Carolyn Cappel, a lay servant minister; Rev. Ron Johnson, a retired elder; Rev. Carli Steffes, a chaplain at Avera Heart Hospital; and Blaine Wilson, a certified chaplain lay minister; and Rev. Jeff Vore, a retired licensed local pastor.

The team meets and plans weekly worship based on the liturgical calendar. Communion is scheduled once a month with an elder. The music using CDs is planned as part of the worship. Each member of the ministry team builds and prints the bulletin needed for worship. Rev. Johnson and Vore lead funerals, weddings, and baptisms.

Care ministry takes place through team members by location. Members of the congregation receive health care in several locations: Sioux City, Sioux Falls, Vermillion, and Yankton. Wilson, Steffes, and Johnson live in the Sioux Falls area and cover care visits there. Vore lives in the Sioux City region, so he handles care visits in Sioux City. Cappell lives in Yankton and can conduct care ministry needed there.

For several years, the Gayville-Volin congregation in South Dakota has been connected as a satellite church with several other communities. They have related to Irene, Yankton, and Vermillion, South Dakota.

“I think things are coming together for this church. The members like the variety of preaching styles and having their own pastoral team,” said Wilson. “There is a lot of positive feedback from the congregation.”

A three-person board handles the administrative tasks to keep the congregation in order. Wilson serves as the key contact and liaison between the board and the ministry team.

In the future, the hope is to start Sunday School and confirmation. “ I think we will continue to see slow growth,” says Wilson.


The Dakotas Connection Initiative: The Dakotas Connection Initiative leans on assets, strengths, and technology. Rather than focusing on a scarcity of resources —limited full-time clergy and fewer financial resources to support them—the conference is imagining the future with the gifts that God has provided—gifted and faithful laity in communities and surrounding areas, retired pastors with a gift for mentoring and a calling to preach and deliver sacraments, and an openness to using technology to reach people. Read about the fall gatherings here

 Discernment Retreat: Are you wondering how God is calling you? Attend the Discernment Retreat on January 8, 2022, and February 5, 2022, at Spearfish UMC or online.  Register here.


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