Wide landscape view of Duke Chapel in the fall.
Photo Credit
Duke University

Divinity Doctoral Fellows Impact Rural Communities

A unique Duke Divinity School fellowship program brought pastors in rural North Carolina together to develop projects that address challenging problems in their communities, and then launch those projects in their home parishes.

The Rural Church D.Min. Fellowship, a three-year one-time pilot project funded by The Duke Endowment and The Parish Ministry Fund, began in 2020 with a cohort of 16 students, all United Methodist pastors, who journeyed through the D.Min. program together to work on practical solutions to issues in their communities.

The fellowship showcased a special partnership with the Ormond Center at Duke Divinity School, which used its expertise to support the cohort by journeying alongside the fellows, recruiting church and community leaders for advice and feedback on fellows’ projects, and uniting theology and practice by teaching and participating in three of the required program courses.

Through special courses and their individual real-world capstone projects, the fellows addressed complex issues of access, resources, and isolation in rural communities, bringing their theological formation into real-world practice.