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Houses of Hope: Encouragement for small-town and rural congregations

Houses of Hope: Encouragement for small-town and rural congregations

With a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Thriving Congregations Initiative, Education Beyond the Walls at Austin Seminary (EBW) has created Houses of Hope to foster engagement with and among small-town and rural congregations in Texas and Oklahoma.

“Houses of Hope is intended for small-town and rural congregations who feel restless and stymied by how to best be the church in this age–and who are curious about what their future might hold,” says Melissa Wiginton, vice president for Education Beyond the Walls.

An initial process of mutual discernment between the Houses of Hope and a congregational leadership team helps interested congregations decide if Houses of Hope is a good fit for them. Those who go forward  will engage in “Building Hope,” a course of Christian practices that includes small-group discussion and individual and group activities and that grows to include their town or community. They will be partnered with a coach and with five other small-town and rural congregations.

EBW will make “Building Hope” available for congregations outside of Texas and Oklahoma in Fall 2022.

Congregations who want to begin a process of discernment about Houses of Hope may attend online information sessions on March 11 or 22 ( to sign up) To learn more, visit the website at for more information.