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Two local churches to participate in statewide initiative

RALEIGH – Both the Ahoskie and Murfreesboro United Methodist Churches have been selected to participate in the pilot cohort of the NC Rural Center’s new Faith in Rural Communities initiative.

The initiative, funded through a grant from The Duke Endowment, provides training and resource support to help rural churches better engage with their local communities. Eight churches from across North Carolina were selected to participate in the pilot cohort of this project.

As part of the initiative, Ahoskie and Murfreesboro United Methodist Church congregational leaders will work with the Rural Center to explore opportunities to use their congregation’s gifts for local community growth.

“We recognize these churches’ history of leadership and investment in their community. The training and coaching will empower these leaders to maximize the impact of their missional engagement,” said Heather Kilbourne, Faith in Rural Communities program manager.

A team of church leaders from both of the congregations participated in an introductory workshop on Asset-Based Community Development on Aug. 11 in Ahoskie. Rural Center coaches will work with each of the eight congregations over the next three months to develop actionable plans for community engagement.

“We believe there is a shared fate between rural churches and their rural communities,” explains Jason Gray, NC Rural Center senior fellow of policy and research. “Faith communities are essential to a rural community’s civic and social richness.”

Based in Charlotte and established in 1924 by industrialist and philanthropist James B. Duke, The Duke Endowment is a private foundation that strengthens communities in North Carolina and South Carolina by nurturing children, promoting health, educating minds and enriching spirits. Since its founding, it has distributed more than $3.6 billion in grants. The Endowment shares a name with Duke University and Duke Energy, but all are separate organizations.

For 30 years, the NC Rural Center has worked to develop, promote, and implement sound economic strategies to improve the quality of life of rural North Carolinians. The Center serves the state’s 80 rural counties, with a special focus on individuals with low to moderate incomes and communities with limited resources.