There is something spiritual in going up a mountain. The gospels tell us how often Jesus went up a mountain--to heal, to preach, to pray, to die, to ascend.
That Sunday we attended the Little Dove Primitive Baptist Church. I don't know how many varieties of Baptists there are in Kentucky, but there seem to be nearly as many different Baptist subdenominations as there are mountains to tuck them into. Primitive Baptists call themselves that because they like to go back to the oldest Christian traditions they can find--like praying on their knees, singing a capella and washing feet. I was raised in a church that strove to replicate the original Christians, too. Sometimes members of my denomination would be stubborn--we liked to be right. Based on some of my experiences, I might even have wondered whether any group dedicated to looking back as far as possible would stick at trifles and prefer to overlook our common ground with other Christians. But at Little Dove, I found worship is alive with a current-day practice of the oldest Christian tradition of all--love.
Men and women both shared, spontaneously taking the pulpit in turn and delivering simple songs that expressed something their walk with God had imparted to them. The only accompaniment was the soft "Amens" the congregation added to the singing to affirm their hearts were in accord. There was a sense that those assembled all knew the true stories behind the songs of each singer, and that each person there was precious, each story was cherished, each song celebrated. Had there been any hard feelings, this group had long ago found and shared God's mercy and left them behind.
The support of the community for its members was unmistakable. The preaching was Spirit-led and kept to the point. The need for prayer, and the faith in God's power, was manifest.
I will share with you a prayer need that was expressed in that congregation. The coal mines in southeastern Kentucky have laid off about 600 miners this year, and members of the church stated that there was a recent announcement in the Whitesburg Mountain Eagle that 70 more jobs in Letcher County and 15 in Harlan County
would soon be lost. In an area of the country where jobs are scarce, these layoffs pose a problem without an answer for many families. A recent article originating in Louisville, Ky, refers to "outmigration," as many families tend to leave the area for work in other states. Once upon a time, the unemployed of Appalachia headed North for work in Detroit. Those who are familiar with Rich Mullins' story know that his grandfather, wife and children "left Kentucky headed for Detroit and ran out of gas in Indiana." But in the present day,
work in Detroit is scarce, too. Please keep Southeastern Kentucky in your prayers.