Go, tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere
Go, tell it on the mountain,
That Jesus Christ is born.

Go Tell It on the Mountain” is an African-American spiritual compose in the mid-19th Century that is often sung as a Christmas carol.  The Gospel of Luke, chapter 2, records an angel announcing to shepherds out at night with their flocks, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”  After the shepherds witness the newborn Jesus, “they made known what had been told them about this child.”

Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, lies in the Judean hill country, part of a broad-shouldered north-south mountain spine lying between the Mediterranean Sea to the west and the sub-sea level Dead Sea to the east.  The inhabitants were adapted to this rugged hill terrain.  Jesus later on grew up further north on that mountain range, in Nazareth in the province of Galilee.

The aristocratic priests and elite urbanites of Jesus’ day looked down their noses at Galileans.  For one thing, Galileans had an accent that included a slurring of their words to such an extent that words were often misunderstood.  The Temple priests accused Galileans of being lax in their tithes and religious observances.  The priests did not believe Galileans had good character or intelligence. Since Galileans were poor agricultural people, and in disfavor by the urbanites, they came to be derisively catcalled, am ha-retz, “people of the land.”  Or in modern vernacular, “hillbillies.”  Jesus was a hillbilly.

Shepherds in the time of Jesus were looked down upon as unreliable, uncouth, thieving, and rowdy.  Their testimony was not allowed in court.  Yet it was to shepherds that the angel announced the birth of the Savior.

Modern elites today tend to look down on mountain people living in the heart of Appalachia in a way that is analogous to Galileans and shepherds of Jesus’ time.  And it seems easier on the conscience to defraud and exploit mountain people once they’ve been downgraded.  A desecration such as mountaintop removal would never happen in the Poconos or Catskills that are playgrounds for the rich and mighty.

A few months before Jesus’ birth, Mary his mother prophesied about this birth.” He has shown might in his arm: he has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.  He has brought down the powerful from their seats, and has exalted the humble.  He has filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he has sent empty away” (Luke 1:51-53).

Jesus’ identification with the lowly of the world, those looked down upon  by the self-sufficient and proud,  is not part of today’s slick and tidy Christmas story.   Yet this is a vital part of the Christmas message.  So…go tell it on the mountain!

—Allen Johnson

We need your help to bring an end to mountaintop removal coal mining. PLEASE MAKE A CALL TODAY!
This week, over 140 citizens from Appalachia and across the US will gather in our nation’s capital as part of our 4th Annual End Mountaintop Removal Week in Washington.

They will be meeting with members of Congress to urge them to co-sponsor HR 1310, the Clean Water Protection Act which would help to end mountaintop removal coal extraction.

Mountaintop removal is one of the most egregious environmental and social justice disasters in America today – over 500 mountains, equal to over 1.5 million acres of land have been destroyed by this practice.  Residents and supporters from across the US are asking for an end to this practice and an investment in sustainable economic alternatives for Appalachia.

You can help end mountaintop removal. Click here to show your support for the mountains, the people and the waters of Appalachia.

By calling your House Representative in Congress today, you can make the case that now is the time for Congress to take action to stop mountaintop removal coal mining.  Our goal this year is to pass the Clean Water Protection Act in 2009 — be a part of making history with us!

Call your House Representative today: Use our nifty call-in tool that will dial your Representative directly at no charge and provide you with a script for speaking to them by clicking here In addition to the provided script, it would be great for you to add why, as a person of faith, you are in support of the legislation.  Let your Representative know that:

*God calls us to sustain creation for future generations. (Psalm 8:6-8)
*God calls us to walk with those in unjust systems.  (Proverbs 31:8-9, Matthew 25:34-40)
*God calls us to protect what belongs to him. (Genesis 2:15-17)
And much more!  Please elaborate and add your own reasons.

You can also find out whether your Representative sponsored the Clean Water Protection Act in 2008 here

Thanks for helping to save a national treasure, the Appalachian Mountains and its communities.

PS. We strongly suggest you call your representative, but If you would prefer to contact your Representative by email, click here

Wild Wonderful WV

The above picture is how many people are greeted into WV for the first the first time.  Do you think that this is what they expect to see in a Wild and Wonderful land?

view from Kayford Mountain

view from Kayford Mountain

On November 6-9, Christians for the Mountains and Restoring Eden: Christians for Environmental Stewardship put on the event Shoutin’ For the Mountains, a Mountain Top Removal Coal Mining Witness tour.  We were very fortunate to have a wonderful group of around 30 students from Christian Colleges all over the country.  Calvin College, Cleveland State University, Eastern University, Grace College, Northern Illinois University, Spring Arbor University, Trinity College and Waynesburg College were  all represented by committed, passionate students that are now ready to be advocates for the Appalachian Mountains and share their experiences with the world.  A High School youth group from Morrow Memorial United Methodist Church in Maplewood, New Jersey also got the chance to join us for part of the road trip throughout the southern coalfields of West Virginia.

It was a very action packed and educational weekend. By meeting with a variety of community members and listening to their struggles, the students got to experience many of the devestating issues that that arise due to Mountain Top Removal such as  poor water quality,  health issues, and  negative impacts on communities. The students also came away with a knowledge of the history of coal mining and union struggles in West Virginia. Participants visited Kayford Mountain, Coal River Mountain, Prenter, Sylvester, Whitesville, Marsh Fork Elementary School, Blair Mountain, Rawl Church of God, Red Jacket, and Matewan.

The students now have a deeper understanding of how Appalachia is involved in America’s energy consumption and have made new connections as to how that pertains to their faith. Now every time they flick on a light  switch, they will remember those communities and individuals that pay the high cost for energy in America.

By the end of the trip, many of the students were already developing plans of action to take back to their colleges and  get more people involved in the struggle to stop Mountain Top Removal and protect coal field communities. It was wonderful to see a group of passionate and committed students that spent a weekend delving in to a rich cultural area that is often misunderstood and overlooked.  Especially in an important time in America’s history where the political landscape is changing and open for new directions, it is great to see that a new generation of advocates for the mountains is springing up and working on how to protect and preserve the Appalachian Mountains, people, and way of life.

Blair Mountain Kayford Mountain