Todd Brantley
Senior Director of Public Affairs
NC Rural Center and Thread Capital

NC Rural Center Initiative Gives Grants to Churches for COVID-19 Response Programs

RALEIGH- The NC Rural Center's Faith in Rural Communities initiative recently awarded more than $27,000 in emergency grants for churches to implement programs that respond to community needs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Funded through a grant from The Duke Endowment, the Faith in Rural Communities initiative is geared toward helping rural United Methodist churches (UMC) create high-impact projects that will benefit both the economic and social well-being of the communities they serve. The initiative provides training and resource support to help rural churches better engage with their local communities. 

"Faith communities are essential to a rural community's civic and social richness," said Faith in Rural Communities Program Manager Heather Kilbourne. "It made sense to provide these emergency grants to churches in the program because these churches can play an important role in how the communities they serve respond to and survive this pandemic."

Each church that was awarded a grant is operating or implementing a relief program designed to meet their community's specific needs. 

Churches awarded emergency grants and their relief programs include: 
  • Bethesda UMC in Robeson County will provide phone cards to support access to mental health assistance and social connections.  
  • Boonville UMC in Yadkin County will support a program to deliver 30 free meals per week to homebound neighbors. The meals will be purchased through local restaurants to support small businesses in the area. 
  • First UMC in Elizabeth City will provide emergency assistance (rent, utilities, car insurance, etc.) for families facing unemployment or a cut to income. 
  • Jordan Memorial Church in Ramseur will support the church and other community partners to provide free drive-thru meals to 800 people. These meals will be purchased from local restaurants to support locally owned small businesses. 
  • Murfreesboro UMC in Hertford County will support paying a local seamstress to produce masks for their community and launch a "We Are in This Together" community-support campaign using lawn signs and social media.
  • Robbinsville UMC in Graham County will support the purchase and setup of 11 hot spots in their community. They will partner with their local school system and a local nonprofit to place the hot spots. 
  • Rock Creek UMC in Alamance County will support supplies for church volunteers to make masks for people in their community.
  • Silk Hope Charge UMC in Siler City will provide iPads to people without internet to watch the recorded church service and to local schools to use for virtual learning. 
  • Smith Grove UMC in Davie County will support telehealth mental health counseling. The cost of the counseling will be subsidized based on the client's ability to pay. The church will also set up a telehealth counseling room in the church for anyone without internet access. 
  • Woodmont UMC in Reidsville will support in-kind costs related to donating space to their local hospital to provide childcare for essential workers. Once the stay-at-home order is lifted, the grant will support a weekly meal and summer enrichment program to assist elementary students in strengthening reading and math skills. 
"The focus of Faith in Rural Communities is training churches on how to identify and more strategically respond to community needs," said Rural Center President Patrick Woodie. "And while none of the churches affiliated with the program can address the coronavirus itself, they are equipped with the tools and know-how to address the needs caused or exacerbated by the virus." 


About the NC Rural Center
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 Rural Center serves the state's 80 rural counties, with a special focus on individuals with low-to-moderate incomes and communities with limited resources. 

About The Duke Endowment
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 $4 billion in grants. The Endowment shares a name with Duke University and Duke Energy, but all are separate organizations. 

For media inquiries: 
Todd Brantley
Senior Director of Public Affairs
NC Rural Center & Thread Capital