02/08/12 — Mount Olive College to host Faith and Rural Life conference for second year

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Mount Olive College to host Faith and Rural Life conference for second year

By Kelly Corbett
Published in News on February 8, 2012 1:46 PM

Agriculture and religion are the inspirations behind the second annual Faith and Rural Life Down to Earth Ministry at Mount Olive College, which community members and students of all ages are invited to attend.

The idea for the event, which will be held later this month, originally came from the Mount Olive Area Ministerial Association and primarily focused on religion, but organizers decided to also emphasize the importance of agriculture after they began planning in May.

"Of all people, farmers are your greatest stewards of the land," said Sandy Maddox, director of the Lois G. Britt Agribusiness Center at Mount Olive College.

David Hines, dean of MOC's school of arts and sciences, said the event was planned to be a one-time occurrence last year, but that organizers were so pleased with the outcome, they decided to make transform it into an annual event.

"It's continuing to morph and evolve," Hines said. "We really are trying to reach out and embrace the agriculture community."

Tim Beach-Verhey, co-pastor of Faison Presbyterian Church, said he knows many people involved in agriculture in the area.

"They just love the land ... I admire that," he said.

Ms. Maddox said many of the people going to church in the area are also largely involved in agriculture and she would like to see more students and other youth from the community get involved. Some Future Farmers of America organizations from the local high schools have already expressed interest in attending the program, and last year, students came from other colleges to attend, some even traveling from Furman University in Greenville, S.C.

"It's about building those rural communities," Ms. Maddox said. "Fifteen to 20 percent of employment (in the area) is from agriculture. Those are the people that will be employing the young people."

Beach-Verhey said he noticed people enjoyed having time to talk with one another at the last event, so this year there will be more opportunities for networking.

Hines said that churches can be similar because of the region they are located in, regardless of their denomination. Presbyterians, Methodists and Baptists all come together for the event and all take part in communion.

"I get goosebumps when I talk about that," Hines said.

The wine for the communion will be a non-alcoholic wine from Duplin Winery and the bread will be made with flour from locally grown wheat, he said.

About 115 people registered for the event last year and their goal is to have about 150 people attend this year.

"We're really trying to draw more and more people into this," Beach-Verhey said.

Participants can partake in lectures by three keynote speakers and numerous workshops throughout the one-day event. The workshops will include a variety of topics, from how to become a pastor to the different viewpoints of the impacts of immigration.

"It really is a little something for anyone who wants to come to this," Hines said.

The event will be held on Feb. 27, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., at the college. The cost of registration is $15 and includes lunch and dinner. To register, visit www.moc.edu/faithand rurallife or contact Laura Getz at 635-2787 or lgetz@moc.edu.

"We broke the land last year, now it's time to plant the crop," Hines said.