What Does RHC Do?
Over 18 months, congregations participating in the RHC partner with each other and with Duke Divinity School faculty and staff to envision and to enact new practices related to health and healthcare. Participating congregations engage in focused theological education around health and medicine, assess the needs and capacities of their congregations and local communities, develop and implement new or expanded "demonstration projects" around health and medicine, and learn from one another in an environment of shared mission and support. Participating congregations become part of an exciting network of partners, professionals, and programs seeking to promote the health of communities and to walk faithfully with people living with mental and physical illness or disability. Congregations are encouraged not simply to implement existing models for health ministry, but to imagine and pioneer new practices that fit the needs and calling of their community.
Past/Current/Upcoming Health Focus Areas
||Cohort 1: Health, Illness and the Church
||Cohort 2: The Church and Mental Health
||Cohort 3: The Church and Mental Health, with a special focus on community-church partnerships.
||Cohort 4: Food, Health and the Body
Kick-Off Gathering: Each RHC cohort starts with a three-day gathering on the campus of Duke Divinity School campus. In this gathering, congregational teams:
- Equip themselves with practical health knowledge, relevant to the health focus area of their cohort;
- Engage scripture, theology, and Christian history with respect to health and illness;
- Encounter both local and national resources and networks for helping the church respond faithfully to health and illness;
- Hear transformative stories and experiences of people in your own and other congregations; and
- Receive practical resources for translating theological vision into congregational engagement.
After the first Reimagining Health Gathering, participating congregations:
- Discern needs and opportunities in their congregational and community context related to the health focus area, using a conversation guide;
- Envision and enact transformative practices regarding health and illness, with the support of Reimagining Health Collaborative program staff and Duke Divinity School faculty and staff;
- Convene in two additional Reimagining Health Collaborative Gatherings at the 6- and 18-month time points of the program (2 days/1 night, on the Duke University campus).
Churches from the 2016 and 2017 cohorts focused on "The Church and Mental Health". Below are some resources that may be helpful for other churches interested in learning more about mental health.
Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour course that teaches you how to help someone who may be experiencing a mental health or substance use challenge. The training helps you identify, understand and respond to signs of addictions and mental illnesses.
Several RHC congregation and organization members have already taken this course for adults, youth or both. This is a great practical resource for a church seeking to learn more about mental health and how to respond to individuals with mental health needs. Click here to find a course.
This guide provides information to help faith leaders work with members of their congregations and their families who are facing mental health challenges. The Quick Reference is a companion to the guide. These materials were created by a Mental Health and Faith Community Partnership led by the American Psychiatric Association.
Download a copy here:
Mental Health Guide for Faith Leaders PDF
Quick Reference PDF
Directions to the Divinity School
How many churches participate in each cohort?
Each cohort is comprised of 10-12 congregational teams. This size allows for a variety of ideas, contexts, and programs to be explored, while still fostering a spirit of collaboration.
Can churches from any denomination apply?
Yes! This is an ecumenical program and all congregations who seek a program that is rooted in Christian faith and practice are encouraged to apply.
Does my church have to be located in North Carolina?
No. We’ve worked with congregational teams from several different states and love to build cohorts of churches representing several areas of the country. There are three gatherings held at Duke Divinity School over the course of the 18-month program, and each team is expected to send at least 2 representatives to each gathering.
What if another church (or multiple other churches) from my community want(s) to apply? Can we partner together in some way?
That would be wonderful! And there are a couple of options for partnership. First, your church and one other church could partner to form one team to join the cohort. That means you’d each have representatives from your congregation on a team that would work through the discernment process together, as well as explore possible programs or projects to build together. Second, your church and others from your community could apply to participate in RHC as separate teams (with each application being considered separately). Your congregational teams would work through the discernment process within your individual churches, but there would be opportunities to meet and to come together with the other RHC churches in your community as you each begin to plan your projects and programs, and to find important ways to partner together and support one another’s work.
How much does participation cost?
The cost per congregation over 18 months is $5000. This covers event costs (food, conference fees) for team members for three gatherings at Duke Divinity School, all materials costs and project facilitation from an RHC staff member, along with consultation from Duke faculty. RHC relies on the generous contributions of sponsors and donors to help defray the costs of participation for each congregation.
Is there any scholarship support available? What about travel costs?
No church should hesitate to apply because of a lack of funds. We are committed to offering at least $2000 of scholarship support for any congregation with an annual budget of less than $1 million. We will also work collaboratively with congregations of all sizes and budgets to secure additional scholarships and sources of funding to support the costs of participation.
In addition, thanks to the generous support of the The Duke Endowment, we are able to provide full scholarship support for up to five TDE-eligible rural United Methodist churches over two cohorts.
Please note: All participating congregations are responsible for their travel costs (hotel, car, air) incurred to attend the three gatherings at Duke Divinity School during the course of the program. Scholarship support does not cover travel costs.
Who do we contact if we have questions about scholarships and funds before we apply?
We are committed to hosting a diverse cohort of congregations. Congregations who are concerned that cost of participation would be an obstacle are encouraged to reach out to Rachel Meyer, RHC Program Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What if our church is not selected for this year’s cohort?
If your church team is not selected for the cohort due to limitations of space, we will schedule a time to talk with you, to discuss your hopes for your congregation’s future ministries related to food and health, to explore application to a future RHC cohort focused on Food, Health, and the Body, and to explore other resources for supporting your congregation’s work.