Methodists (and Others) Making a Difference in Appalachia

Return to Swarthmore United Methodist Church: Back row from L to R: Charlie Hoover, Chris Perullo, Clay Resweber, Cal Stief, Katie Pell, Nick Restrepo, Kay Walker, Simon Shankweiler, Justin Fitzgerald, Will Huestis, Matt Restrepo, Aidan Cole, Jonathan Cresson, Linton Stables. Front row, L to R: Rory Cody, Zoe Bock, Rich Cresson, Vicky Huestis, Steve Murray, Jerry Getz, Marty Spiegel. Not shown are Nick Perullo and the rainbow that appeared over the group.

By Linton Stables

The participants in this year’s Appalachia Service Project (ASP) from Swarthmore United Methodist Church (SUMC) were in Knox County, Kentucky, for a week in late June working at three home sites. ASP provides the infrastructure for church-sponsored groups to volunteer their time and skills doing repair work, making homes “warmer, safer, and drier” for needy families in central Appalachia.

Appalachia has seen a number of Swarthmore residents this summer, with groups from Swarthmore Presbyterian Church and SUMC making separate trips to work on homes in that economically depressed part of the country. The SUMC group was an ecumenical mix of 15 students between the ages of 14 and 21, and seven adults. The team left Swarthmore on June 24, staying overnight at St. Paul’s Methodist Church in Wytheville, Virginia, along the way. They worked for five days on homes and returned on July 1 in a light rain, but were greeted with a rainbow over the church.

In the spring and early summer the students raised the money to participate in the project, with a hot dog stand at the Fun-Fair in May and with direct mail requests of family and friends. A generous grant was received from the Swarthmore Rotary Club.

In September, the ASP teams will report on their trip at the Methodist Church, including a slide show, bluegrass gospel music, and testimonials from the teenagers and adults who went. We will give plenty of notice ahead of this presentation; we invite you to join us at the church.

Many of those who went to Appalachia this year have already signed up to go next year. Anyone interested in learning more about ASP and about participating in 2018 should contact the SUMC office at (610) 543-2110, or at

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