Fellows’ Spotlight: Rev. Darren Crotts
In welcoming the newest members of our Fellowship for Rural Faith Leaders, Come to the Table puts the spotlight on each of our Fellows’ experiences and vision. The fellowship supports leaders of rural faith communities in using their experience, passion, and vision to positively affect change at the intersection of rural life, faith, and justice in North Carolina. With the support of our partners at the Duke Endowment, each Fellow will work alongside Come to the Table staff to craft a plan of engagement that utilizes their interests and insights to connect with local communities through faith, equity, and food.
This week’s Fellows’ Spotlight features Rev. Darren Crotts. To learn more about each of our Fellows, check out our Fellows’ introduction page.
What attracted you to the Fellowship?
The opportunity to be in a cohort with others involved in ministries and collaborative efforts on the margins was the motivation. I also enjoy learning, and this is a good opportunity to learn in a cohort setting, with others who are in rural settings.
Rural communities are often overlooked and under-served by institutions and organizations. As a leader of a rural faith community, how do you see the Fellowship impacting your community?
The fellowship is going to allow us, myself and our congregation, to make the best of current and future congregational relationships, as a result of the connections and community-building opportunities that Come to the Table provides. I don’t think we’re fully aware of the resources available to us, and this is an opportunity to cultivate that awareness and familiarity.
The importance of addressing root causes of injustice is central to the heart of the Fellowship. What forms of injustice do you see in rural NC communities that are more urgent? How have you/your community addressed these?
I see injustice in our community that exists through the nature of the urban-rural divide. I definitely see a discrepancy for those on the margins in rural communities. For example, transportation infrastructure: when it’s missing in rural areas, those on the margins are hit harder. Social services, too. Also, our policies on a state-level are based largely on population. The urban areas typically have a larger voice from a policy-making standpoint. But there’s a richness in rural contexts, and if we collaborate together in our work, we can achieve more.
How can your work in the fellowship address this divide?
It’s important for rural communities to understand that they’re not alone. As we work together, we’ll realize that within these issues, like transportation, there’s an empowerment and a way that we can create synergy in the cohort to make the problem shrink: if we can have a group of folks that are serious about empowering those on the margins, we can move forward with a plan to change things. It’s going to be about learning from the others in the cohort, because of the challenges that they face in their own communities. In rural communities, we tend to think that we’re all alone. But as I step into a space with other leaders, there’s a universality regarding the problems we face.
What role do you see the Fellowship playing in your professional development and growth as a leader and moral voice in your community?
I am learning everyday about the challenges of our culture to be fully inclusive and truly equal, and I want to embrace that at a higher level. As a pastor in our community, I’m wanting to develop skills around empathy through an enlightened perspective. There’s a richness in being around people that aren’t like me and it allows us a more full lens through which to see the projects and interactions. Without that lens, any efforts in building community would be less significant than they could be. I really crave the opportunity to learn other perspectives. I see this fellowship as another opportunity for growth.
So far, what are the unique aspects of your fellowship experience?
There’s been an epiphany of sorts that food is tied into so many different things. As I stepped into this Come to the Table discussion around food, I’m beginning to see that food insecurity and food ministries are so far-reaching and there are so many opportunities. We’ve already had discussions about self-care and community efforts, but this notion that simply filling someone’s stomach allows them to be their best is being challenged. Food is connected to so many other aspects of life together.
What is one goal you hope to reach through this Fellowship?
I want to be better at community-building, and I think Come to the Table will be a huge step in that direction. I think the opportunity that this Fellowship will afford me will be developing strengths: relationships, connection. The organic process will be useful, especially within a cohort of other leaders.