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Helping Find the Way in Appalachia

by Susan J. Meister

Scott Williams installed this sign he designed and built to direct visitors and volunteers to Henderson Settlement.
During a much needed rainy day, Scott Williams installed one of the two signs he designed and built to direct visitors and volunteers to Henderson Settlement.
Image by: Courtesy Scott Williams
Source: Community and Institutional Ministries

During a regular week, Scott Williams works for the Springfield Park District. Often he makes and maintains signs for parks in the central Illinois community. So it only made sense that on his recent mission trip to Henderson Settlement in Frakes, KY, he used his “regular talents” to make a contribution to the Red Bird Missionary Conference mission.

Williams and Rev. Peter Wehrly spent several days at Henderson installing two large road signs at the intersection of KY 92/County 1595 and the intersection of TN 90/Tracy Branch Road (KY 190) to help mission teams and other groups find the settlement.  Wehrly noted the need in 2006, the tenth year he had led youth and adult mission trips to the Appalachian mission site. He discussed the need with Jerry Lambdin, Missions Resources Director, and Williams designed and built the signs over the winter.

“The new signs are great,” Lambdin exclaimed. “I’ve already received many comments from community and work teams arriving this week about how nice they are and the benefit they provide in getting to our site.”

The signs, made from pine stained to an oak finish, were set on large 6” by 6” posts, set in concrete. Wehrly and Williams dug the holes through the extremely dry soil, layered with shale and coal deposits, on two very rainy days. “When I designed the signs, I forgot that I wouldn’t be digging in central Illinois loam or dealing with Kentucky hills,” Williams groaned.

Henderson Settlement is a Global Ministries-related National Mission Institution, part of the Red Bird Missionary Conference in Southeastern Kentucky. It is organized into six areas of ministry – administration, community care, economic development, facilities, mission resources, and outreach – with more than 60 ministry programs.  The Settlement touches the lives of more than 3000 rural persons each year.  In this area of Appalachia, 80% of persons fall into a low-income or poverty category, and real unemployment is between 40 and 50%.

Lambdin reports that Henderson Settlement will host about 120 volunteer groups in 2007, totaling nearly 3000 persons. The projects being done are generally home repair, ranging from painting to replacing roofs, room additions, and windows.  “We have built 25 complete homes in 15 years,” he added, “along with campus building and facility repair.”

Williams is a lay leader in a new church start in Springfield, Northside United Methodist Church. Wehrly is appointed to Signal Hill United Methodist Church, Belleville. Both churches are in the Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference.

The Henderson Settlement web site contains a comprehensive list of current needs and information for work teams and projects. Staff has recently completed a new DVD about the ministry and a capital campaign. The Red Bird Missionary Conference web site contains additional information about the 23 churches, four outreach centers, and four mission institutions (Henderson Settlement, The Bennett Center, Red Bird Clinic, and Red Bird Mission) in the conference. For more information about mission opportunities at Henderson, contact Jerry Lambdin at 606-337-3613,


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Date posted: Oct 30, 2007