Associated Press: Rural churches search for their place in a changing world

EXCERPT: “After a few days of sweltering heat broke with an afternoon storm, the bells rang at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Rollingstone, Minn. as parishioners passed through its doors for Saturday mass. Formed by immigrants of Luxembourg who settled in the area, the church recently celebrated its 150th birthday in June. The roughly 400-member congregation — of which about 100 show up for the weekend service and a quarter of that for daily mass — is proud of the community that fills the pews, from the littlest squirming child to the gray-haired old guard. The congregation cracked their hymnals inside the sanctuary and fixed their attention on Tammy Schmit, who opened her mouth and began to lead them in song . . . As much as the churches serve as a cornerstone of their community, however, the world around them is changing. Family farms are less viable, people leave the rural town they grew up in for an urban center and attitudes toward religion have shifted, presenting churches with new challenges as they define themselves and their futures.” FULL STORY: