The Rural Church Leadership Initiative
“I believe it is to these rural districts that we are to look in large measure for the bone and sinew of our country.”—James B. Duke
Supported by a grant from the Sybil H. Smith Trust, the purpose of the Rural Church Leadership Initiative is to motivate, support, prepare, and train clergy in rural churches for the transformation of rural congregations and communities. A cohort of 24 pastors is selected each year by the bishop and cabinet of the Alabama-West Florida Conference for a course of study leading to a Certificate in Rural Church Leadership. Preference is given to those who are pastors in rural counties in South Alabama and Northwest Florida, the area the Smith Trust generally serves. Tuition, room, and board are provided to the participants. The group meets for five two-day seminars during the course of one academic year. These pastors and their congregations are also eligible for mini-grants for outreach to their communities.