A Brief History of the United Methodist Mountain Mission

The United Methodist Mountain Mission is a project of the Kentucky Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and is in trust to the same. It is governed by a Board of Directors duly appointed from various areas and representations throughout the Kentucky Conference.

Almost 60 years ago, God planted a vision in the mind of Rev. John Lewis for a mission among the mountain people of eastern Kentucky. In 1943 this vision was realized and had its beginning under the leadership of Rev. Lewis. He was a pastor in the Methodist Church in Jackson, Kentucky at the time. Rev. Lewis had served two charges in the mountains of eastern Kentucky during the previous ten years. He could see the needs of the people. He had observed the work of Save the Children Federation stores in the area and felt that people of the Methodist churches throughout Kentucky could serve their own people's needs in a smiliar way.

Rev. Lewis felt that pride of ownership -- being able to pay a small price for merchandise, rather than a hand-out -- was desired by the people who benefitted from the merchandise offered for sale in the stores that became known as Opportunity Stores. This philosophy holds true today. Merchandise collected from the churches and other sources is now available for sale in nine locations. Bibles and other religious books, supplies, and gifts, all new, are offered in the Bread of Life Bookstore in Jackson.

Items for sale in the Opportunity Stores are made available through donations made by churches, corporations, individuals, and other organizations. Although originally solely received from churches in the Kentucky Conference, regularly scheduled pickups are now made throughout all of Kentucky, part of northwestern Tennessee, central and southern Ohio, and large areas of the states of Indiana and Illinois.

Since the beginning, Methodist ministries have been a part of the Mission. Through the sale of merchandise, financial support is provided for the Hampton United Methodist Church, the Wolverine United Methodist Church, and Tommy's Place, a Youth Center, all located in Breathitt County.

The United Methodist Mountain Mission receives no apportionment funding from the Kentucky Conference. Over 90% of the funding comes from the sale of merchandise. This revenue pays for the operation of the stores, the operations of the central office and processing plant in Jackson, and for the wages and benefits of the 68 employees who work at the Mission. It is only through the efforts of our generous donors that all of this is possible.