Disciples of Welcome

A learning and praxis experience for United Methodist pastors serving rural North Carolina seeking to live out a call of radical hospitality in their churches & communities


The past five years in the U.S have brought intense partisan polarization, rising white nationalist movement, and in the United Methodist Church, immense pain over differences on human sexuality. North Carolina is on the front lines of these challenges, with pastors struggling to figure how to have conversations across difference that lead to greater understanding and stronger community. How do we follow Jesus in these times? How do we lead our congregations into having courageous dialogue and model moral courage in the face of division and despair?

There is no magic bullet solution, no magic formula. Instead, what faith leaders need in this moment is a cultivation of the heart, a community of mutual support, and the building of new skill sets to become ambassadors across multiple divides. Such is the vision of Disciples of Welcome, a learning journey exclusively for rural North Carolina UMC pastors.

Running from August 2019 to Spring 2021 through the leadership of Faith Matters Network and The People’s Supper, Disciples of Welcome aims to support North Carolina in becoming a national model for social healing by catalyzing rural pastors as systems change agents that embody an alternative to the ruptures that dominate our culture from our politics to the pews. Rooted in the Biblical call to hospitality and the theology of the table, the cohort experience will equip participants with tools, practical wisdom, relationships, resources and a concrete action plan to create “Brave Space” that holds complexity and tension meaningfully and with courage.


Application Timeline

  • Application process launches: May 15, 2019

  • Application Deadline: June 30, 2019

  • Cohort announced: July 12, 2019

  • First cohort call: August 14, 2019

Spread the word! Do you know a UMC pastor in North Carolina who would be a great fit for Disciples of Welcome? Encourage them to stay tuned for application info on this page!

Questions? Contact Margaret Ernst margaret@faithmattersnetwork.org.

Participants in a Peoples Supper at University City United Methodist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina in November 2019

Participants in a Peoples Supper at University City United Methodist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina in November 2019


Program elements and commitments:

  • Three in-person retreats with lodging covered and travel stipends available.

  • Monthly video calls with experienced practitioners and thought leaders, plus peer group reflection calls based on geography or shared interests.

  • Mini-grants of $1500 per cohort member to bring a vision for social healing in your community to life.

  • One-on-one coaching to guide personal and professional growth in the work of bridge-building, including feedback and support on community action plans.

How can we create relationships among us that bring those words to life, ways of being together that are congruent with what we teach and preach?
— Parker Palmer