A Struggling Tradition

Tucked away among serpentine roads and precipitous mountain slopes, the old coal mining towns of McDowell County, West Virginia, are places where religious tradition runs deep. But with the area’s high unemployment rate, growing drug crisis, and high frequency of disease and death, local church congregations have become shadows of their former selves. As older parishioners die and younger people lose interest, many Pentecostal Holiness churches in the mountains face an uncertain future.