Roanridge Foundation, Inc.

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Roanridge Foundation, Inc.

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In 1942, Wilbur Cochel offered his 320-acre farm, Roanridge, near Kansas City, Missouri to serve as a training and conference center for the rural mission of the Episcopal Church. In light of the Joint Commission on Rural Work’s report of 1940 calling for the promotion of rural work within the Episcopal Church, the Church accepted Mr. Cochel's offer. Other than the farm itself, programs at Roanridge were administered by the National Town and Country Church Institute (NTCCI), which held its first session on the farm in 1945.

In donating his farm and estate to the Episcopal Church, Cochel established the Roanridge Rural Training Foundation in 1947. Funding and administration of the Center was the joint responsibility of the Trustees of the Roanridge Foundation and the National Council’s Division of Town and Country. The Executive Secretary of the Division of Town and Country Work, the Rev. Clifford Samuelson, managed the Center from New York City until the appointment of the Center’s first resident director, the Rev. Norman Foote, in 1950.

In 1955, the Board of Trustees incorporated the Roanridge Rural Training Foundation as the Roanridge Rural Training Center, Inc. The corporation changed its name to the Roanridge Foundation, Inc. in 1972 with a Board of Directors constituted in the same manner as the former Board of Trustees.

Initially, Roanridge offered agricultural training, however, over time it shifted to emphasize conferences and short courses for clergy and laity. The most active of these was the Summer Parish Training Program, during which students lived and worked on the farm while serving several local rural congregations. Other noteworthy activities taking place at Roanridge included the summer Vacation Church School Program for local children, Church Army training sessions, National Episcopal Town and Country Conferences, Indian Work consultations, and meetings of the Rural Workers Fellowship and National Advisory Committee on Town and Country.

With the waning need for rural work and the financial status of the Roanridge Foundation deteriorating, the Foundation Board of Trustees voted to dissolve the Wilbur A. Cochel Trust at its meeting of August 12, 1976. Its assets were divided between the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kansas City, and St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City. With the proceeds from the sale of the land, the Executive Council established the Wilbur A. Cochel, Caroline F. Cochel, and Roanridge Trust for the training of rural ministry.

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