RFCAI Conference 2021 Agenda

Whether you’re teaching your kids at home, ready at your desk all day, or an introvert/extrovert—your participation style is valid. All sessions will have optional participatory elements, and we’ll reflect in our agenda what the format is so you can plan. We trust you!


Tuesday, May 11 – Recovery

9:15 a.m. – 3 p.m.
We’re still in a global pandemic affecting our daily lives, but with more fear and trepidation in the future. This day will focus on processing this past year and planning for a different future. 


Complex Trauma and Compassionate Healing: Faith Communities & Mental Health  |  9:15 – 10 a.m.

What is a faith leader’s identity with forever-changed ministries? Understanding our own mental health and ongoing grief and loss during the pandemic while we engage is crucial to being able to stay in this work.

  • Dr. Janeé Avent Harris, East Carolina State University Read Bio
  • Dr. Rev. Dawn Baldwin Gibson, Peletah Ministries, New Bern, NC Read Bio

Session Topics: FIRESIDE CONVO, Mental Health, Rural Ministry, COVID Recovery, Trauma-Informed Care


BREAK  |  10 – 10:15 a.m.


The State of Ministry & Community Partnerships – What’s Working & Not Working?  |  10:15 – 11 a.m.

Discussion about the uniqueness of rural ministry through this past year, and wrestling with burnout, isolation, inspiration, and how we move forward together.

  • Rev. Kimberly Clarke Turner, Hood Theological Seminary’s Institute for Early Career Clergy Development Read Bio
  • Dr. Brian Foreman, Campbell University Center for Church & Community Read Bio

Session Topics: WORKSHOP, Rural Ministry, Burn Out, Mental Health, Best Practices 


Skillful Facilitation & Conflict Engagement  |  11 – 11:45 a.m.

Workshop focusing on hard conversations as leaders in your congregation and your community.

  • Calvin Allen, Rural Forward NC Director, Foundation for Health Leadership & Innovation Read Bio
  • Andrew Loeb Shoenig, Rural Forward NC Read Bio

Session Topics: WORKSHOP, Civic Conversations, Practice, Optional Breakouts at end


Policy Briefs: NC Demographics, Rural Mental Health  |  11:45 a.m. – 12 noon

Session Topics: POLICY BRIEF




LUNCH BREAK  | 12 noon – 1:30 p.m.
Optional Celebrating Rural Creative Session: 1 – 1:30 p.m.


What’s Going On? Public Health, Education, and Economic Development  | 1:30 – 3 p.m.

Workshop on the “ecosystem” of rural life and how faith communities can engage and partner for impact.

  • Kathy Hodges, MSW, Community Development Specialist, Office of Rural Health, NC Dept. of HHS Read Bio
  • Dr. Henry McKoy, NC Central University Business Department and Director of Entrepreneurship
  • Mebane Rash, CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC Read Bio
  • Sarah Langer Hall, Institute for Emerging Issues Read Bio

Session Topics: WORKSHOP, Rural Policy, Rural Ministry, Practice, Strategic Planning, Optional Breakouts



Contemplative Practices for Sustained Community Care

An exploratory gathering and mutual learning around the practices that are working for each of us.

  • Kim Pevia, K.A.P. Inner Prizes, Alternate ROOTS Read Bio
  • John Parker, Institute for Emerging Issues

Session Topics: DISCUSSION, Practices


Going Deeper on Policy – Policy Matters and Rural Counts

Understanding some deeper rural strategies and policies, and what to explore in your community.

  • Brandy Bynum Dawson, Rural Center Read Bio
  • Sarah Langer Hall, Institute for Emerging Issues Read Bio

Session Topics: WORKSHOP, Rural Policy, Rural Ministry


Tuesday, May 18 – Rekindle
9:15 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Surviving each day has been more than enough. We’ll explore brave spaces to dream and plan together for transformative partnerships anchored by asset-based community development.

Tuesday, May 25 – Resilience
9:15 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Rural ministry and life have been rapidly changing for a while. We’ll be focusing on sustained care for ourselves and communities amidst the many challenges and opportunities this year continues to bring.