“The church, as a community institution, is vital partner in collaborative approaches to supporting rural children and families affected by systemic poverty, drug use, and mental illness. ”
New York Times best-seller memoirs Hillbilly Elegy, Educated, and Heartland have shed light on America’s systemic issues of poverty and its related outcomes.
Even as America’s religious landscape shifts toward empty pews and “nones,” the Church still plays a vital role on the frontlines of our country’s poorest communities.
This study and its subsequent book, Breaking Good: Surviving and Finding Myself in Flyover Country will move beyond the voyeurism of poverty, drug addiction, and mental illness to its story. Who are the people of flyover country? How have their circumstances and surroundings shaped their lives? What are the stories behind these social, psychological, and communal obstacles? What role has faith played in their lives? How does the church faithfully engage with their needs through collaboration and innovative community programming?
Study methods will auto-ethnography, background reading, travel, ethnographic studies of local congregations and communities, member checking, as well as interviews with pastors, parishioners, and residents.