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The NC Rural Center received a $3.2M grant from The Duke Endowment to continue its successful Faith in Rural Communities (FIRC) program for another five years.

Since 2017, the Rural Center has partnered with The Duke Endowment to provide training, coaching, and grants to more than 40 rural United Methodist Churches. Participating churches have gone on to create important community programs, such as a middle school suicide prevention program, bilingual community meals, and community-based English as a Second Language classes. 

The new grant from The Duke Endowment will more than double the impact of the program, allowing 50 more churches across the state to participate. It will also create an innovative new initiative that will work at a community-wide level to gather diverse groups of faith-based and community organizations and fund their plans for large-scale community development projects.

“We are excited this grant allows us to expand our successful model to more communities and churches,” said Heather Kilbourne, FIRC Senior Program Manager. “We believe there are many opportunities for rural churches to support their entire community to thrive and we are grateful for The Duke Endowment’s willingness to invest in these churches.”

“The Faith in Rural Communities program has shown how churches can be powerful catalysts for change in their communities,” said Robb Webb, director of the Endowment’s Rural Church program area. “We are pleased to continue supporting the Rural Center’s work to increase leadership capacity in rural churches and boost rural communities’ ability to address local challenges.”

The vision of Faith in Rural Communities (FIRC) is to build socially dynamic and economically vibrant rural faith communities across every town and crossroads in North Carolina. The NC Rural Center recognizes the important role rural churches play in meeting a variety of needs for people in their communities. As rural places emerge from the pandemic and face a challenging economic climate, the community-focused work of churches is more important than ever before. The FIRC program builds upon the assets rural churches already have and develops the leadership skills of their members to help them respond creatively to important community challenges. Through this partnership with The Duke Endowment, the NC Rural Center and its Faith in Rural Communities program will expand its scope and impact on churches and communities and continue to assist churches throughout the state.