The Thriving Rural Communities Initiative works to foster thriving rural North Carolina communities by cultivating faithful rural Christian leadership and fruitful rural United Methodist congregations.

Thriving Rural Communities is a partnership of Duke Divinity School, The Duke Endowment, the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, and the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. It also is a part of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.


Rural Ministry Fellowships

Each year, Thriving Rural Communities awards full merit-based scholarships, sponsored by The Duke Endowment, to Duke Divinity School students from the two United Methodist conferences in North Carolina who exhibit the gifts, passion, and signs of a calling to exceptional ordained leadership in rural United Methodist churches in the state.



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, including the annual Convocation on the Rural Church, a three-day gathering that addresses issues in rural ministry.

Convocation on the rural church gathering with people sitting around tables in discussion, featuring a women in a white shirt listening intently