Giving Rural Pastors an Opportunity for Renewal


Participants of the Study Leave program have noted several benefits:

  • “Study leave is important to me because it provides time away without distraction and being at Duke gives me the chance to participate in high quality worship...something that is very important to the renewing of my spiritual energy.”
  • “The opportunity to just have a break from my regular routine to focus on preaching was the freshness that I was needing.”
  • “I came back to my church with renewed energy.”
  • “[The faculty] were a critical part of my visit. They allowed me to process a few issues that had arisen in the church prior to my arrival. This cleared my mind for the work I came to accomplish.”

Key successes of the Convocation on the Rural Church include:

  • Building Sabbath time into the schedule.
  • Convening rural pastors who often feel alone in their work.
  • Hosting experts that provide context on the greater church body.


Between 2004 and 2010, more than 100 rural church pastors participated in Courage to Serve. Since 2010, more than 460 rural church pastors have participated in the Study Leave program, growing from 37 participants in the first year to 139 in 2014. More than 1,000 clergy members have attended the Convocation on the Rural Church, as annual participation has more than doubled since its inception.


Area of Work

  • Clergy leadership

Program Area

  • Rural Church

Grantmaking Status

The Endowment is continuing to work through current grantees and is not accepting new applications.

Areas of Work

  • Prevention and early intervention for at-risk children

    To equip children and families with skills to ensure that children reach developmental milestones to lead successful lives.

  • Out-of-home care for youth

    To drive child welfare systems toward greater accountability for child well-being.

  • Quality and safety of health care

    Improving the quality and safety of health care delivery

  • Access to health care

    Improving health by increasing access to comprehensive care

  • Prevention

    Expanding programs to promote health and prevent disease

  • Academic excellence

    Enhancing academic excellence through program and campus development

  • Educational access and success

    Increasing educational access and supporting a learning environment that promotes achievement

  • Campus and community engagement

    Promoting a culture of service, collaboration and engagement among schools and communities

  • Rural church development

    Building the infrastructure and capacity of United Methodist churches to enhance ministry and mission

  • Clergy leadership

    Strengthening United Methodist churches by improving the quality and effectiveness of church leadership

  • Congregational outreach

    Engaging United Methodist congregations in programs that serve their communities