Friday, May 13, 2016 - 1:00pm to Sunday, May 15, 2016 - 12:00pm
The Bladen Charge UMC, Bladen County, N.C. (Map)
Duke Divinity School

Many small membership churches are in places of opportunity, but cannot seem to make any real advancement toward growth or sustainability in ministry. In the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, one charge has a unique testimony of sustainability. The Thriving Rural Communities Initiative at Duke Divinity School invites pastors and lay people to attend a weekend retreat at The Bladen Charge—Windsor UMC, Bethlehem UMC and Live Oak UMC—to experience the uniqueness first hand. Worship services, workshops and Sabbath time will resource and renew your ministry.


Friday, May 13

1:00-2:00 p.m.

Registration and Coffee at Bethlehem UMC Fellowship Hall (72 Bethlehem Methodist Church Rd., White Oak, NC 28399)

2:00-2:45 p.m.

Welcoming & Meeting the Room at Bethlehem UMC Fellowship Hall

3:00-3:45 p.m.

Gifts of the Rural Church

3:45-4:45 p.m.

Conference Initiatives and Presentations

5:30-6:30 p.m.

Dinner at Bethlehem UMC

6:30-8:30 p.m.

Children's Presentations
8:30-9:15 p.m. Evening Worship
9:15 p.m. Hotel Check-in

Saturday, May 14

8:45-9:15 a.m.

Gathering with Breakfast at Live Oak UMC (832 Live Oak Methodist Church Rd, White Oak, NC 28399)

9:15-11:45 a.m.

The Forgotten Generations and Outreach Ministries Presentations

11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Break and travel to Windsor UMC (12863 NC 242 N, Elizabethtown, NC 28337)

12:15-12:45 p.m.              

Lunch at Windsor UMC

12:45-2:45 p.m.

Gift & Passion for Ministry

2:45-5:15 p.m.

Afternoon Siesta

5:30-6:30 p.m.  

Dinner & Discussion at Windsor UMC

6:30-8:10 p.m.

Thriving in Ministry and Healing in Ministry Presentations

8:15-9:00 p.m.

Worship & Healing Service

9:15 p.m. Return to Rooms

Sunday, May 15

8:00-8:45 a.m.

Pancake Breakfast at Windsor UMC

8:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Worship with Windsor UMC, Bethlehem UMC, and Live Oak UMC

12:00 p.m.



Brad ThieRev. Brad Thie
Director, Thriving Rural Communities
Rev. Brad Thie, a 1998 Duke Divinity School graduate, is an ordained elder and a member of the Western North Carolina Annual Conference.  He has pastored three rural United Methodist churches in North Carolina, and has extensive experience ministering as a chaplain and spiritual counselor in prisons, hospitals, and retirement communities.  Before joining Thriving Rural Communities in 2013, Thie served as pastor for eight years of Friendship UMC in Newton, N.C., a partner church with Thriving Rural Communities.  

Thie has an M.B.A. from Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Fla., and a B.A. in psychology from Bowling Green State University. Prior to attending Divinity School, he worked as a market manager with Pizza Hut, and as a franchisee consultant and district manager with Golden Corral Family Steakhouses.  

He experienced his calling to pastoral ministry while participating in a Disciple I Bible Study at Mt. Pisgah UMC in Greensboro, N.C.  During his service at Mt. Pisgah, he also served as a facilitator of Disciple Bible Study through Disciple Bible Outreach Ministry (DBOM) in two prison facilities.

He has served on DBOM’s executive council, as a candidacy mentor for numerous ministry candidates, as spiritual director of the Emmanuel Emmaus Community, and currently serves on the board of United Church Homes and Services.  He is a Passion in Partnership certified coach, has served on Plowpoint Church Transformation teams, and is a graduate of the Royce and Jane Reynolds Program in Church Leadership.


Worship Leader

Bob BaumanRev. Bob Bauman

District Superintendent, Harbor District

Bob Bauman, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, is the harbor district superintendent. He was appointed to the office of superintendent after eight years as the senior pastor of Wrightsville United Methodist Church in Wrightsville Beach, N.C. He is no stranger to southeastern North Carolina, having served in the Wilmington area since 1994.


There are two options for housing this year.

The Bladen Charge will offer housing in the homes of Chargers (members from Windsor UMC, Bethlehem UMC and Live Oak UMC), as room permits.  We offer this new option as a means to strengthen conversation and relationships with those participating in Fan the Flame.

Or participates may stay at the Knight’s Inn 609 E Broad St, Elizabethtown, NC 28337, (910) 862-7444.

Directions to Knight's Inn: From Bethlehem UMC – follow Hwy 53-E to Hwy 701-S, turn right on Hwy 701 S to Broad Street, and turn left on Broad St.   Facility will be .4 mile on the left.

Registrants will have the option to confirm the need for accommodations and indicate roommate preferences on the registration form. Not all rooming preferences are guaranteed.

Directions & Transportation

Transportation to and from the event is the responsibility of the participants. Transportation during the event will be provided.

Driving Directions to Bethlehem UMC

From I-95: Take exit 49 at Cedar Creek, heading southeast, follow Hwy 53 E for 20.1 miles. Take a slight left on Bethlehem Church Rd. Church is on the right behind White Oak Post Office.

From Hwy 701: Follow Hwy 701 to Elizabethtown, cross Cape Fear Bridge, turn left on Hwy 53 to White Oak, right on Gum Springs Rd, left on Bethlehem Church Rd.  Church is behind the White Oak Post Office.


Due to the generous funding from The Duke Endowment, the Thriving Rural Communities Initiative at Duke Divinity School, and the Bladen Charge, the cost is $150 for the first team from each church to register, if lodging is requested for the hotel.  The cost for a team to lodge in a Charger’s home is reduced to $75. A church team is made up of a clergy participant and up to 3 laity, and there is no limit to how many teams each church can send. The cost for each additional team is $150. One clergy participant can be a part of multiple teams.

One individual from each church will register all the church’s attendees on the registration form. One payment for all participants from one church is collected on the registration form. Accepted payments are Visa, MasterCard, or check.

Registration fee includes lodging, meals and workshop materials for all members of each registering church team.

Registration ends Friday, April 29, 2016.

The retreat will require an entire weekend of each registrant’s time. Pastors are asked to plan to be away from their churches and have someone fill in for them so they may experience the diversity of worship.


Please contact Duke Divinity School at or (919) 613-5323.