Marvin Lee Anderson

Marvin Lee Anderson, Ph.D. is an international consultant on rural congregational ministry and rural communities. Dr. Anderson is also a historical theologian whose research spans the history of late medieval and early modern (Reformation) Christian mysticism.

Since 1989, Dr. Anderson has taught Master of Divinity courses on various aspects of rural ministry in more than a dozen theological colleges and seminaries in Canada and the U.S., including Emmanuel College and Knox College in Toronto and the former Queen’s Theological College in Kingston, Ontario.

Dr. Anderson is a Sessional Instructor at the Atlantic School of Theology and previously taught at the Department of History, University of Toronto. He has been a Fellow for the Centre for Renaissance and Reformation Studies at the University of Toronto since 2010. His online course at AST last summer was focused on the medieval Christian women mystics: Mysticism and Monasticism in Context: Love, Longing, and Belonging.

Marvin was formerly in charge of the national portfolio on Rural Ministries at the General Council Office of The United Church of Canada in Toronto. Marvin convened the last National Consultation on Rural Ministry in 2006, and wrote the online resource, Alive and Kicking: Revitalizing Rural Ministries, which is free to download at:

Marvin facilitated workshops based on Alive and Kicking for nearly half of the annual conferences across Canada. Prior to that, Dr. Anderson held the Endowed Chair of Town and Country Ministries at Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Missouri, a United Methodist seminary (2002-2005). A retired colleague and Professor Emeritus from Saint Paul’s faculty has said of Alive and Kicking: “It is one of the best things I have read on the rural church.” Marvin’s web site is:

Prior to the pandemic (2019), Marvin offered a new graduate course in Grand Junction, Colorado, on the deleterious impact of the growing partisan polarization in the U.S., entitled Restoring Community in a Divided Countryside: Anger and Healing in America’s Heartland. From a small family farm, Marvin has witnessed firsthand and researched the tragic demise of rural communities and small rural churches across North America.

Dr. Anderson has chronicled this phenomenon in his writing as well as in his life-long career of adult education and graduate-level teaching. That said, Marvin proudly honours his own agrarian ancestors. He celebrates the remarkable repertoire of ‘spiritual’ and cultural resources that have characterized the historic resiliency of rural people and communities, and that have subsequently animated their imagination and creativity–as noted by the famous Kentucky poet Wendell Berry and our own United Church and Canadian rural sociologist, the late R. Alex Sim.

From 2010-2015, Marvin also served eight rural United Church congregations outside the ‘Big Smoke’ (Toronto, where he lives with his wife Gwen) as an interim and part-time lay minister. Knowing that the absolutely best cooking is found at small church potlucks, he earned his nickname as ‘Starvin’ Marvin, and is duty-bound to maintain his reputation.