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What is West Virginia for Me?

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. This month, Anna Pinckney Straight is curating a series on ministry in West Virginia and Appalachia. We’ll hear perspectives of folks from there and folks who’ve moved there, as well as depictions of the area in book, song, film, and photo. What makes it a place where people choose to live? What are the particular challenges and opportunities of ministry there? We invite you to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter!

by Anna Pinckney Straight

What is West Virginia (and Appalachia) for me?

It’s people. Amazing people.

Even though those people can be a bit stubborn. They’ve had to be stubborn, to survive. Like a flower blooming at the side of a rock when it’s not yet spring and it’s not supposed to be blooming.

People who know how to feed themselves and know how to feed their neighbors.

(If you don’t know about pepperoni rolls, you can read about them here.  And yes. I have opinions.  If I can’t get my mother-in-law’s, I want Tomaro’s. Stick. No cheese. No discussion.)

Beauty. God’s country.

It’s also a place defined as much by its shadows as by the places where the sun shines.

For so much has been taken from this place, to make other places and other people wealthy and comfortable.

Coal. Gas. Our children and youth who have to leave to find better education or good jobs. So much, still going away.

Am I going away or moving in

To this place where I’m still searching for the ways in which it is