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Our Mission

Awakening faith and flourishing at the intersection of church and university through deep listening and purposeful design.

Our Story

We all long for purpose and belonging, especially in times of transition or dislocation. When we discover our place in healthy communities of unconditional inclusion and formation, we cultivate life-giving relationships and risk awakening to faith and flourishing.

Mere Christianity Forum (MCF), a collegiate ministry in Travelers Rest, South Carolina, is one of 92 organizations funded through the Lilly Endowment, Inc.’s, Thriving Congregations Initiative, a 5-year grant supporting congregational thriving across the United States. 

 

Through the support of this grant, MCF has launched a brand new initiative -  The Vinery: Awakening Faith and Flourishing at the Intersection of Church and University, to cultivate congregational thriving in ministry with their university neighbors and broader communities. 

 

Our vision is to be an incubator for thriving congregations ministering faithfully and effectively with young adults and other members of nearby universities and supporting vibrant local communities. 

 

The Vinery cultivates dynamic learning cohorts of congregations located in close proximity to universities and helps them remember their calling to ministry with students and other members of universities as a part of their total ministry in the world.

Our Team

With over 30 combined years of experience in congregational, campus, and consulting ministries, The Vinery team is committed to seeing the intersection of Church and University life thrive.

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Rimes McElveen

Executive Director

Rimes McElveen, Executive Director of Mere Christianity Forum, loves creating contexts for people to discover the love and leadership of God’s grace in their lives - primarily through rich conversations and authentic communities. Before directing MCF Rimes attended Furman, Duke Divinity School and Candler School of Theology, and worked for the YMCA, Bell South, churches from four different denominations, and a United Methodist mission agency. Rimes met his wife at Duke, Kathryn, who is the ED of the Center For Courage and Renewal. Together they love supporting one another’s working for the Common Good in the world while raising their four kids and taking National Park adventures every chance they get.

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Alexis Carter Thomas

 

Project Director

Reverend Alexis Carter Thomas is a writer, researcher, ordained minister and adjunct professor of religion. She received her Master of Divinity from the Divinity School at Duke University. She has served in pastoral leadership and campus ministry in North Carolina and Oklahoma. Alexis enjoys writing non-fiction, taking long road trips, reading quality literature, and having soul-stirring conversations over coffee or a good meal. Her hope is that her presence and gifts will be used to bear witness to life-giving abundance. She and her husband, John, live in small-town South Carolina.

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Heather Wynn
 
Operations Coordinator

Originally from Port St. Lucie, Florida, Heather holds a Bachelors of Arts degree from Furman University. After four years of working in ministry in downtown Charleston, she and her husband moved back to their beloved Greenville, SC in 2018. She currently serves as Operations Coordinator of Mere Christianity Forum in Greenville, an interdenominal collegiate ministry at Furman University.

"We all long for purpose and belonging, especially in times of transition or dislocation. When we discover our place in healthy communities of unconditional inclusion and formation, we cultivate life-giving relationships and risk awakening to faith and flourishing."