Excerpts from article written by Jill Callison. Photographs by Stuart Villanueva.
Courtesy Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Attracting ministers to serve small, rural congregations can be especially difficult. But area religious leaders say a combination of strong family ties and a preference for Midwestern life and worship styles have helped South Dakota churches attract strong leaders.

United Methodist conferences don't recruit seminarians for their churches, said the Rev. Howard Baird, who became associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in Mitchell June 29th. But seminarians do have a chance to decide where they would liike to serve. For Baird, who was raised in Canton and Sioux Falls, it came down to a decision between Colorado, where he attended seminary, Minnesota, the home state of his wife, Megan, and the Dakotas. "It just seemed like this was home, and this was where I needed to be," said Baird, 30. "I guess we seriously thought about it for a year."

Joanne Kinney provided this article for our congregation

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