Ten WNCC Congregations Partner with The Duke Endowment to Improve Early Childhood Literacy in North Carolina


"More than half a million students in North Carolina — about 40 percent of all students in the state — attend rural schools, and one in five school-aged rural children is living in poverty. Rural students, particularly those from low-income families, lose substantial ground in literacy during the summer due to diminished access to academic support and enrichment opportunities, which contributes to long-term disparities in educational outcomes.

The Duke Endowment’s Rural Church Summer Literacy Initiative is designed to help United Methodist congregations improve early childhood literacy in North Carolina’s rural communities. The Endowment’s Rural Church program area, which works to strengthen the capacity of churches to serve their communities, has developed and supported the initiative as a measurable, meaningful way for churches to reduce educational inequities and to transform the long-term trajectories of children and families" (Mobilizing Rural Churches to Improve Early Childhood Literacy in North Carolina, a May 2021 report from Summer Literacy, An Initiative of The Duke Endowment)

In 2019 and 2020, ten congregations in the Western NC Conference partnered with the Summer Literacy Initiative to provide six weeks of literacy instruction with enrichment activities, family engagement, meals, and wrap-around services for students and families in North Carolina's rural communities. They are:
  • Boone UMC, Watauga County (Appalachian District)
  • Brevard First UMC, Transylvania County (Blue Ridge District)
  • Central UMC Stanly County (Uwharrie District)
  • Cullowhee UMC, Jackson County (Smoky Mountain District)
  • East Bend United, seven churches based at East Bend UMC, Yadkin County (Yadkin Valley District)
  • Fairview UMC, Davidson County (Yadkin Valley District)
  • Monticello UMC, Iredell County (Appalachian District)
  • Morning Star UMC, Haywood County (Smoky Mountain District)
  • Sparta UMC, Alleghany County (Appalachian District)
  • Wilkesboro UMC, Wilkes County (Appalachian District)
The Summer Literacy Initiative released a full report in May 2021 detailing the initiative's growth from supporting programs at only three churches in 2018 to expanding the program to more than a dozen churches in 2019 and 2020. 

Summer Literacy is still seeking a small number of thriving churches that are already working with their local schools through Congregations 4 Children-type programming to partner with them in ministry. If you think your church might be a good partner with the Summer Literacy Initiative, or if you have any questions, please reach out to Brian Mateer, WNCC Associate Director of Missional Engagement

Learn more about The Duke Endowment's Rural Church Program and Summer Literacy Initiative

Resources for Vital Congregations



Lewis Center for Church Leadership

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Books

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Serve Your Neighbor

GBHEM Leadership Resources


Living Faithfully: Human Sexuality and the United Methodist Church

Englewood Book Review

Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations

Ted Talks: The Golden Circle

Ted Talks: The Power of Vulnerability

Ted Talks: The Price of Invulnerability

Design Thinking

Meditations on the Ministry of All Christians


Be A Disciple

A Disciple’s Path; A Guide for United Methodist

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Adult Christian Studies from the Wesley Ministry Network

Traveling Together: A Guide for Disciple Forming Congregations


Living As United Methodist Christians

Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials

Reclaiming our Wesleyan Tradition: John Wesley’s Sermons for Today

John Wesley Sermons: Anthology


Get Their Name

Evangelism & Theology in the Wesleyan Spirit

Canoeing the Mountains

Fresh Expressions

Fresh Expressions: Dinner Church

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Reach New Disciples

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: 50 Ways to Reach People

Community: The Structure of Belonging


Institute for Emerging Issues

Congregations 4 Children


The Royce and Jane Reynolds Ministry Fund Grants

The Duke Endowment


The Appalachian District Church Vitality Team has been prayerfully seeking ways to help support you and the ministries of your local congregation during this COVID-19 pandemic. Together they have diligently researched and connected with others throughout the conference and our denomination to identify resources and offer them to you. We hope they will be helpful to you and bless you greatly in leading your churches and communities through this unprecedented time. We are very grateful to the District Vitality Team and other contributors for their great work on this resource.
This faithful team has created three documents, two of which you are receiving today. They include:

  • Family Home Worship – designed to help families establish a regular worship space within their homes as well as a time where they can worship together.
  • Tech Strategies – to help guide you in selecting effective tools and resources within your budget to best communicate in the digital world.

We believe these resources will be of great benefit to you. Also know that the District Vitality Team is available to answer any questions you might have in regards to the documents attached. If you have questions, you may email Rev. Howard Fleming at hfleming@wnccumc.net.


  • Resources
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