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.

Recipients of the scholarship receive a stipend to serve their ten-week summer field education placements in a partner Thriving Rural Congregation. They also participate in an enrichment program that includes:

  • Annual retreats
  • Rural Ministry Colloquia
  • The Encuentro travel experience to encounter the Methodist church in Mexico
  • An alumni network and various continuing education events upon graduation.

Upon graduation, Rural Ministry Fellows receive the blessing of serving the rural United Methodist Church in North Carolina.


Candidates are selected based on a review of Duke Divinity admissions materials and nominations from the annual conferences and from within the Divinity School community. While the Rural Ministry Fellowship is predominantly awarded to prospective or first-year full-time students, student pastors may also be nominated to receive an award.

Interviews for the Rural Ministry Fellowship are held in two rounds, usually in late January and mid March, with awards made soon after these dates. The interview committee is composed of representatives from Duke Divinity School and the North Carolina and Western North Carolina Conferences of the United Methodist Church.

Once a student has been awarded a Rural Ministry Fellowship, his or her continued participation in the program is contingent on the maintenance of satisfactory academic progress and continued prayerful discernment of service to the rural church.

If you would like to nominate or recommend someone to receive a Rural Ministry Fellowship, or if you have questions about the program, please contact us.