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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Faith moves in backwoods mountains

Members of Faith Lutheran Church make a big impact on community life in Whitetop, Va.

Two-year-old Joseph Pennington flings a handful of kibble into the clear, rocky stream that runs by his house. He claps approval as fish dash to the food — and reaches for another handful.

Joseph is growing up on the same land that his grandfather did. It's tucked away in the hills and hollows of Virginia's Blue Ridge Highlands, near the Appalachian Trail as it wends its way beside Whitetop and Mount Rogers. At more than 6,000 feet, this is the state's highest area.

"Heaven is right here in our hills," says Joseph's grandmother, Cornetta Price. "Just looking out puts you in touch with God." With the backwoods beauty, however, come the hardships of life off the beaten path.


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