Just off highway
321 in eastern Tennessee, twenty miles west of Gatlinburg and near the
entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, stands a modest log
cabin and a small adjoining white house that play a vital role in the
ministry of Reformed and Presbyterian churches to Appalachia.
The White House, as it is called, serves as the headquarters of CAM (the Coalition for Appalachian Ministry) a unique ministry shared by five Presbyterian/Reformed bodies--Christian Reformed Church, Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and Reformed Church in America.
Appalachia, where twenty-one million people live, and which includes parts or all of thirteen states stretching from southern New York to eastern Mississippi, is the nationís largest geographically identified subculture. Much of the acreage in Appalachia is owned by absentee landlords, consisting of the federal government and private companies which own the land but whose decision-making headquarters are outside Appalachia, outside the control of the local population. Without access to the wealth of their home, Appalachians also lack power, especially the power to tax for local needs such as schools and roads and to make regulations which would control damage done to their environment, Many of Appalachia's 410 counties have income below that of the national average.
The purpose of CAM, according to its mission statement, is to make a positive impact wherever the Reformed tradition and Appalachian culture come together. It does this by networking with church and community to provide education and volunteer opportunities.
In other words, CAM helps Reformed/Presbyterian congregations in Appalachia to witness more effectively within their culture. It maintains an extensive information network among the hundreds of congregations and ministries in Appalachia. It conducts educational events for church leaders, including an annual assembly that features such nationally known speakers as preaching specialist Fred Craddock and Loren Mead. In addition to its newsletter, CAM produces publications on subjects that are especially helpful to Appalachian churches, such as the ministry of small congregations.
The CAM Volunteer Program (working with all Christian denominations, universities, colleges, high schools, and/or other organizations) seeks skilled and semi-skilled volunteers to assist developing grassroots organizations to work toward social, economic and political justice; provide medical assistance; improve housing conditions; and improve education. The Volunteer Program is an integral part of the Coalition for Appalachian Ministry. Learn more in the Volunteer Program section.