Brad Thie has accepted an appointment as the director of Thriving Rural Communities, a partnership of Duke Divinity School, The Duke Endowment , and the North Carolina  and Western North Carolina  Conferences of the United Methodist Church.
Thie will begin his role on July 1, 2013. Previously he served as pastor of Friendship UMC in Newton, N.C., a partner church with Thriving Rural Communities. “I have witnessed the transformative power of the ministry,” Thie said. “Rural Fellows have blessed our church, our laity has grown through Duke learning events, and Friendship UMC has been encouraged in her ministry within the community.”
Thie has also pastored United Methodist churches in Charlotte and Asheboro, and he has extensive experience ministering as a chaplain and spiritual counselor in prisons, hospitals, and retirement communities. He earned his M.Div. from Duke Divinity School in 1998, and also has an M.B.A. from Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Fla., and a B.A. from Bowling Green State University. “I am excited to begin this ministry, and I believe the Rural Fellows  will impact the church and the communities they serve for generations as a result of their participation in this innovative leadership initiative,” said Thie.
The Thriving Rural Communities initiative is designed to help divinity students, pastors, laity, districts, and conferences share and strengthen the gifts found in rural North Carolina. It includes a scholarship program for students at Duke Divinity School who are called to serve in rural church ministry; resources , training, and meetings for clergy in rural churches; and retreats and pilgrimages to help deepen understanding and engagement with substantive issues for ministering in rural churches. Currently 22 alumni from the program serve in various United Methodist ministries across the state of North Carolina, and 25 Fellows are students at Duke Divinity School.
This year, the second phase of this work is beginning with eight new partner churches  in the Western North Carolina and the North Carolina Annual Conferences, thanks to generous funding from The Duke Endowment over the next five years. By the end of 2017, approximately 70 Thriving Rural Communities Fellows will be serving in United Methodist churches across North Carolina.
“We are delighted that significant support from The Duke Endowment will enable Duke Divinity School to continue to strengthen the long-standing partnership we have with the two United Methodist Conferences in North Carolina,” said Susan Pendleton Jones, associate dean for United Methodist initiatives and ministerial formation at Duke Divinity School. “These eight partner churches each represent thriving ministries from Jackson County in the west to Craven County in the east. In these local church settings our students will be shaped and formed by strong pastoral and lay leaders to become faithful and fruitful pastors of tomorrow.”
Learn more about Thriving Rural Communities .
Learn more about The Duke Endowment and support for Thriving Rural Communities .