Rural Faith Communities Connecting in Crisis: COVID-19

The Rural Faith Communities team at IEI (Ellen, John, and Kylie) are trying to figure out ways to do something. Somedays that’s collecting stories from pastors, other days it’s listening to statewide leaders trying to figure out what the next week of the COVID-19 pandemic might look like for North Carolina.  Let’s work together. Let’s not recreate the wheel. Let’s share what’s working. Let’s be honest when it’s not working.

Open Space Faith Leader Weekly Convos

We’re hosting open space calls every Tuesday and Thursday at 10 a.m. for NC faith leaders (clergy, laity, and partners that work with faith communities).

Tuesdays 10-11 a.m.: “HOW are you doing”
Every Tuesday, our open space call will be to see how we’re feeling. We want to check in on what boundaries, health (physical and mental), and life looks like for you and help each other.

Thursdays 10-11 a.m.: “WHAT are you doing”
Every Thursday, our open space call is about troubleshooting and sharing what’s working. What adaptations are you taking for community ministries? What questions do you have? What’s working and what isn’t working?


Here are some big questions IEI is trying to answer with faith leaders and partners (taken from here).

A: We’re happy to help you and your team during this time. See below for contact information to set up a time to chat.

A: We can work with you and our communications team to get the word out. See below for contact information.

A: Resources (many in Spanish) on newest recommendations can be found on NC State’s Department of Health and Human Services website.

A: IEI hosts 6 rural faith leader Peer Networks with more information here. Let us know if you’d like to join or get more information on a particular Peer Network! Our next round of webinars will be early May 2020.

A: Talk to us about local opportunities we can direct you to and share what others are doing. Some statewide opportunities and ideas can be found here. Contact us about learning about and setting up mutual aid networks.

A: Every time you talk to a community or congregation member ask them to fill out the Census! Here’s faith-based resources to help you get the word out.

A: Reach out to someone on our team about your local context questions and challenges:

Email Ellen
Email John
Email Kylie


What does “the best” look like for faith leaders right now?

Rural Faith Communities Program Manager Kylie Foley and Pastors Elizabeth and Jason Villegas share some of their “best” ways to cope and connect during COVID-19.

Allen Stanton: How the rural church can help during COVID-19

Our very own Allen Stanton (IEI’s first Rural Faith Fellow) wrote this article at the beginning of the COVID crisis for most of rural America. It’s a soft and firm reminder of how rural congregations can help their North Carolina communities.

Caroline Parker: Using community connections to feed rural students when schools are closed

We here at IEI have learned a lot from Rev. Jabe Largen and the ecosystem of support for children in Faison, NC. When kids can’t access food at their local schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, how do you fill in the gaps? Especially when bulk food and volunteers aren’t available or safe? This story from our partners at EdNC Faith is astounding- we’re grateful to see faith on the ground all across rural North Carolina.

Caroline Parker and Taylor Shain: Improving the quality of life in Clay County with the help of Woodchuckers

Let’s check in on Western North Carolina, so West that you could run to Georgia for groceries. Our friends at the Hinton Rural Life Center are being hit hard by the pandemic’s economic effects- but the community support they’ve invested in for years are the stories that are personally keeping us going right now.

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