Celebrating Rural United Methodist Churches

Celebrating Rural United Methodist Churches

Across the country, houses of faith play an important role in a community’s daily life. Their buildings provide important resources and much-needed space for fellowship; their open doors bring people together for worship.

Since its founding in 1924, The Duke Endowment has had a close relationship with rural United Methodist churches in North Carolina. The Endowment’s founder, James B. Duke, had strong family ties to the Methodist church. His father, Washington Duke, attended a Methodist Sunday school near his North Carolina home and joined the church as a young boy during a revival service. Washington Duke’s brother, William, was a lay preacher in North Carolina.

James B. Duke grew up knowing the significance that churches held in rural communities. "My old daddy always said that if he amounted to anything in life it was due to the Methodist circuit riders who frequently visited his home and whose preaching and counsel brought out the best that was in him," he once said. "If I amount to anything in this world, I owe it to my daddy and the Methodist church."

In the Indenture of Trust that created The Duke Endowment, James B. Duke set aside support for the building and maintenance of United Methodist churches in rural North Carolina. This lasting legacy still strengthens clergy and congregations today.

A new book, “Legacy of Faith,” celebrates those churches, their architecture, history and service. Commissioned by The Duke Endowment, the book is available in North Carolina at Cokesbury stores and at the Gothic Bookshop at Duke University.

With photographs by Tim Buchman and stories by Laura Phillips, the book is intended to show the diversity of communities in North Carolina and include various geographic regions. “Legacy of Faith” invites readers to enjoy these North Carolina treasures and the congregations that set out to build them.

Contact Us

Robert R. Webb III
Director of Rural Church


Related Work

Area of Work

  • Rural church development

Program Area

  • Rural Church

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

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