St. Peter on the Prairie and Trinity Lutheran Church are seeking to bring a message of healing and renewal to farmers and other rural residents on May 17.
An ecumenical worship service, led by The Rev. Constanze Hagmaier and The Rev. Dirk Hagmaier, will be held at 10 a.m. at St. Peter. A social hour with rolls and coffee will follow.
"We are in the middle of a farming crisis whether we want to realize this or not," Pastor Constanze said.
Local residents have endured a harsh winter, a storm-filled spring, extended power outages, low farm commodity prices, calving difficulty, damaged roads and delays in field planting.
"It kind of builds up. The church needs to be present," she said.
The service, titled "Prayer for the Land and Its People," is intended to be proactive, to address the extreme stress and difficulties of rural life with encouragement, concern, hope and prayer. Farmers and others are encouraged to come as they are in their everyday work clothes.
Pastor Constanze said that all of her calls have been in farming communities, and she is aware of the suffering which goes hand in hand with difficulties, such as flooding, that threaten the livelihood of farm families. She is especially concerned about the statistically high rate of suicide among farmers.
In 2016, the CDC released and then retracted a study suggesting those in the farming industry experienced suicide at a rate nearly five times higher than the general population. When the study was examined closely, it showed that farmers and ranchers were not actually classified in the farming, fishing and forestry occupational group, and that the participating states only included about one-fourth of the nation's farms.
A study conducted by the University of Iowa between 1992 and 2010 indicated that, on average, the suicide rate among farmers and ranchers was 3.5 times higher than that of the general population. However, Dr. Mike Rosmann, an Iowa farmer and psychologist, suggests the number may be higher because some suicides may be disguised as farm accidents.
Although the local service was organized with farmers in mind, all are welcome to attend.
"What matters is that the church be present, especially when people are hurting, and the farm community is hurting," Pastor Constanze said.