Dr. Joel Linton received his doctorate in applied theology (D.Min.) from Birmingham Theological Seminary after five years of study in the doctoral program. His dissertation research topic was starting and sustaining healthy rural churches. The above picture shows Dr. Linton with his dissertation committee in full academic regalia. Dr. Jim Maples on the left was his advisor. The study of the health of rural churches is important because Christians in recent years have focused much more energy and resources on urban church planting, yet approximately half of the world's population still live in rural areas. In the dissertation rural church planting was examined in three mission fields in Asia: Korea, Thailand, and Taiwan, together with general works on church health. Further, field research was done on rural churches in five counties of northwest Alabama as well as one county in Taiwan. Hopefully, other researchers can build on this academic work. The Lord willing, this work will also be applied to new church plants in rural areas of Taiwan beginning in the fall of 2016.