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Rural Faith Resources

Making your impact a little easier by connecting you to the best resources.

Get to Know Your Community

  • 5 Questions to Ask About Your Community: Whether your faith community has a storied tradition in community engagement or is just getting started, these helpful tips help frame your current and future vision for civic partnership.
  • IEI Civic Health Index: Civic health is the social and economic vitality that results when citizens interact productively with their neighbors, involve themselves in community institutions, and actively engage in public issues. (Noteworthy: “North Carolina Subgroups: Trends and Divided” on page 23)
  • NC 211 Counts: 211 is a free phone service provided by United Way for many NC counties about basic social services. Select your county name to see the calls registered about housing, legal services, food insecurity and more in your area. (Noteworthy: Check out the top request for assistance over the past 365 days for your county)
  • IEI’s Rural Faith Community Action Guide: This guide is designed to help faith communities understand local issues, identify potential community-based solutions, and develop clear steps to create a discernible plan of action. (Noteworthy: “Appendix: Worksheets” for a simple way to plan your involvement)
  • Asset-Based Strategies for Faith Communities Workbook: This in-depth guide from the Asset-Based Community Development Institute is vital for understanding how your faith community can live out best practices when engaging your neighbors. (Noteworthy: “Finding Inspiration in Our Community’s Assets” on page 67)
  • Sample Congregation Listening Session: Asking questions is one of the best ways to evaluate what strengths your congregation brings to community partnership. (Noteworthy: Guidelines for listening session facilitators ensure the best outcome)
  • Congregation Values: Each faith community operates under a set of values which may vary depending on who you ask. Setting up core values guide future efforts is essential for focused partnerships. (Noteworthy: Include the values list in your worship bulletin and ask participants to circle the top 5 values of the congregation)

Peer Network Resources

Most faith communities are passionate about ending hunger in their community. Whether you have an established food pantry or a new community garden, there are simple steps to ensure a relational and outcome-based partnership to end hunger.

IEI’s Effective Food Partnership Guide: Keep these essential points in mind with your food ministry.

Dissecting Hunger Activity: Adapted from the “Hunger 101” curriculum, these simple activities help address how we view hunger. (Noteworthy: “Hunger Activity Two”)

Innovative Ideas for Food Ministries: Check out this list for exciting examples of food partnerships from our partner Resourceful Communities. (Noteworthy: “Stretching A Dollar: Grocery Store Tours”)

Want to Start a Community Garden?: Many faith communities see the exciting possibility of available land and community involvement for a community garden, and this Resourceful Communities guide is a vital resource to begin with. (Noteworthy: “Have You Created a Budget?”)

IEI’s KidsReadyNC work has made us passionate about resourcing North Carolina communities around early childhood topics. Many rural faith communities deeply care about kids and want to help create better outcomes for families in their ZIP code.

IEI Tutoring Partnerships Guide: Creating a consistent and safe tutoring or mentoring relationship is one of the most productive and effective ways faith communities can partner with local schools. Here are 5 guiding principles for your potential partnership. (Noteworthy: Determine Commitment)

What Works For Third Grade Reading: How do we move the needle forward on third grade reading in North Carolina? Here is the “best practices” guide for your faith community/pre-school/school partnerships. (Noteworthy: Social-Emotional Health Paper)

Applying an Equity Lens: There are barriers that prevent every child from receiving the same attention, resources, and opportunities. The Robert Wood Johnson report helps provide a framework for applying an “equity lens.” (Noteworthy: Equality is the outcome we all want, equity is the process to actually achieve that)

Often, faith communities say that diversity and inclusion are core values of their ministries. When reaching out to people outside your congregation, it’s crucial to practice cultural humility, ask questions, and be willing to learn and unlearn history that forms our current relationships.

Building Beloved Community: GCORR hosts Rev. Dr. Miguel De La Torre to discuss racism, colorblindness, and diversity (Noteworthy: Questions/Discussion Starters)

10 Honorable Ways to Learn About Another Culture: This infographic from GCORR (a UMC agency) provides practical steps when engaging new cultures (Noteworthy: Point 1)

“Neighbors Together” Dinner-Dialogue: The North Carolina Council of Churches will provide training for congregations willing to learn about other communities.

Based on momentum from rural faith leaders, IEI is introducing a new Rural Housing Peer Network. Check back for resources for this peer network group.

Our other new Peer Network will focus on fundraising for important projects in rural communities. Check back for resources for this peer network group.

Faith communities can be safe, informed spaces to de-stigmatize taboos subjects like opioid addiction or depression. Resources in rural areas can be few and far between, and congregations can become champions of caring for people in their community.

Tips For How To Help a Person With Mental Illness: The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a one-stop shop for faith leaders wanting resources on mental illness Noteworthy: Things to Avoid Saying

Mental Health First Aid Training: This national group shares basic mental health trainings happening in your local area or state. Trainings can be done on one day or spread out over multiple weeks. Perfect for newcomers to the mental health conversation. Noteworthy: Mental Health trainings for rural populations, older adults, veterans, and youth

Mental Health Community Conversation Toolkit: Use these collection of resources from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to integrate mental health conversations in your next committee meeting, youth group gathering, or Bible study Noteworthy: Faith-Based and Community Initiatives

Protective Factors Resources