Programs

Thriving Rural Communities offers a variety of programs designed to help divinity students, pastors, laity, and districts and conferences share and strengthen the gifts found in rural North Carolina.

To learn more about these programs or to discuss an emerging need in your church, please contact us.

Students
  • Rural Ministry Fellowship Program
    A scholarship and enrichment program for Duke Divinity students who exhibit the gifts, passion, and signs of a calling to ordained leadership in rural United Methodist churches in North Carolina.
  • Rural Ministry Colloquia
    Monthly lunch-time discussions at Duke Divinity School on issues related to rural life or ministry, led by guest pastors, scholars, laypeople, or practitioners.  
  • Harvest of Justice
    Through this experience in partnership with the North Carolina Council of Churches, students encounter the lives of migrant farm-workers through a presentation, discussion, and a visit to a farm-worker camp in eastern North Carolina.
  • Encuentro
    A  10-day journey undertaken in the summer by United Methodist students, faculty, staff, and pastors seeking to worship with members of another culture and broaden the relationship between the Divinity School and Mexico’s Methodist Church.
  • Come and See Events
    Events hosted by Thriving Rural Communities Partner Churches during which visitors are invited to experience the ministries of the church and the blessings of the community in which it resides.
Pastors
  • Convocation on the Rural Church
    During this annual three-day gathering, rural clergy address the issues of rural ministry, strengthen one another through fellowship, and enjoy Sabbath time away.
  • Mustard Seed Movement
    Groups of 12 rural clergy and laity meet for one half-day a month for nine months to reaffirm the goodness and significance of service to Christ in the rural church.  Members of each group support and empower each other for more fruitful servant leadership through the study of Scripture, shared discernment and listening, prayer, and fellowship. 
  • Come and See Events
    Events hosted by Thriving Rural Communities Partner Churches during which visitors are invited to experience the ministries of the church and the blessings of the community in which it resides.
  • Study Leave at Duke Divinity School
    Christian institutional leaders and pastors of all traditions spend a week immersed in learning and renewal through self-directed study, worship, and prayer on the Duke University campus.
  • Newgate Prison Ministry Workshops
    Through this program, members of rural churches visit a local prison to encounter the lives of the prisoners and discover the unique challenges and blessings of prison ministry.
  • Rural Ministry Colloquia
    Monthly lunch-time discussions at Duke Divinity School on issues related to rural life or ministry, led by guest pastors, scholars, laypeople, or practitioners.
  • The Nazareth Project
    Through this program, members of rural churches study the Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, attend retreats, undertake a new local mission project, and work with an accountability coach to develop and implement a plan for strengthening their churches.
  • Workshops, Preaching, and Speaking Opportunities
    Rev. Jeremy Troxler, Director of Thriving Rural Communities, is available to share some of the insights gained from the initiative through preaching, Bible studies, workshops, seminars, and conferences.
Laity
  • Come and See Events
    Events hosted by Thriving Rural Communities Partner Churches during which visitors are invited to experience the ministries of the church and the blessings of the community in which it resides.
  • Mustard Seed Movement
    Groups of 12 rural clergy and laity meet for one half-day a month for nine months to reaffirm the goodness and significance of service to Christ in the rural church.  Members of each group support and empower each other for more fruitful servant leadership through the study of Scripture, shared discernment and listening, prayer, and fellowship. 
  • The Nazareth Project
    Through this program, members of rural churches study the Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, attend retreats, undertake a new local mission project, and work with an accountability coach to develop and implement a plan for strengthening their churches.
  • Newgate Prison Ministry Workshops
    Through this program, members of rural churches visit a local prison to encounter the lives of the prisoners and discover the unique challenges and blessings of prison ministry.
  • Rural Ministry Colloquia
    Monthly lunch-time discussions at Duke Divinity School on issues related to rural life or ministry, led by guest pastors, scholars, laypeople, or practitioners.  
Districts & Conferences
  • Come and See Events
    Events hosted by Thriving Rural Communities Partner Churches in conjunction with local businesses and organizations, during which visitors are invited to experience the ministries of the church and the blessings of the community in which it resides.
  • Consultations with Partner Institutions
    Leaders from the two North Carolina UMC Conferences, The Duke Endowment and Duke Divinity School participate in the annual Aldersgate Gathering, and a subset of this group meets three times a year as an advisory committee to the Thriving Rural Communities initiative. Through close collaboration, we seek to further open and honest discussions about positive institutional changes: about how the Divinity School can better form students to serve in rural churches, how the Annual Conferences can more adequately deploy and support rural clergy and congregations, and how The Duke Endowment might better focus its resources to assist in these efforts.
  • Mustard Seed Movement
    Groups of 12 rural clergy and laity meet for one half-day a month for nine months to reaffirm the goodness and significance of service to Christ in the rural church.  Members of each group support and empower each other for more fruitful servant leadership through the study of Scripture, shared discernment and listening, prayer, and fellowship. 
  • The Nazareth Project
    Through this program, members of rural churches study the Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, attend retreats, undertake a new local mission project, and work with an accountability coach to develop and implement a plan for strengthening their churches.
  • Newgate Prison Ministry Workshops
    Through this program, members of rural churches visit a local prison to encounter the lives of the prisoners and discover the unique challenges and blessings of prison ministry.
  • Workshops, Preaching, and Speaking Opportunities
    Rev. Jeremy Troxler, Director of Thriving Rural Communities, is available to share some of the insights gained from the initiative through preaching, Bible studies, workshops, seminars, and conferences.