Director, Thriving Rural Communities
Rev. Jeremy Troxler, a 2002 Duke Divinity School graduate, grew up on a farm in Brown Summit, N.C., and was baptized in the small congregation of Gethsemane UMC.
He and his younger brother spent their summers working on the family’s 140 acres of tobacco – helping with its produce business selling tomatoes, cantaloupes and watermelons.
Like many rural N.C. youth, they helped pull—or prime—individual tobacco leaves as they ripened on the stalk. Troxler jokes that “after priming tobacco in the blistering August sun, nothing else has been hard in comparison.” Jeremy’s father, Steve, now serves as the Commissioner of Agriculture in North Carolina.
Before joining Thriving Rural Communities in 2007 Jeremy served as lead pastor at Maggie Valley United Methodist Church, a 300-member congregation in a rural mountain community in western North Carolina. Prior to his four years at Maggie Valley, Troxler served as president’s assistant and pastor at St. Aubin, Ebenezer and Communicare Methodist Churches in Great Britain.
He was a John Motley Morehead Scholar at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a Duke Scholar at Duke Divinity School.
“At the heart of Thriving Rural Communities is our belief in a God of abundant grace who is present in these communities and churches,” Troxler says. “All of us will be strengthened in our ministries and in our witness by sharing the gifts and the stories of what God is doing here.”
Idia Piacentini was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and moved with her husband to the United States in 2003. In August 2008, she joined the Duke Divinity School as staff assistant to the director of Thriving Rural Communities; she also assists the director of the Hispanic House of Studies. Idia holds a bachelors degree in business administration from the University of Puerto Rico. She worships and serves in various ministries at Reconciliation UMC, a bilingual, multicultural congregation.
“Thriving” is a life-word. To “thrive”, according to Merriam-Webster, means “to grow vigorously” or to “flourish.” The term signifies steady progress towards some goal or end. We most often use the word “thriving” to describe some creature or plant that is fulfilling its created purpose, that is fully alive and overflowing with well-being. Something that is thriving is doing well in the way that it is “meant” to do well. It spills forth or abounds with health and vitality: its cup runneth over. There is a suggestion in the term of not just enough, but of more than enough, of plenty. “Thriving” is a vision of abundant life.
The Thriving Rural Communities Initiative foresees and works towards the day when North Carolina’s rural clergy, rural churches, rural communities, and rural countryside thrive in the way God intended.
We are making this vision of thriving a reality through a network composed of:
How You Can Be a Part of Thriving Rural Communities:
- Participate in a TRC event or program.
- Share your story. We’re always looking for insights and inspiration to share on our blog. If you would like to contribute a piece to publish (once or regularly), please let us know.
- Communicate the vision of God’s love for North Carolina’s rural communities. Resist speaking in ways that paint rural North Carolina as a second-hand or barren place.
- Take the initiative, and tell us how you think we can better support rural leaders.
- Pray for Thriving Rural Communities – for the Spirit’s power and for Christ’s living presence.