West Virginia

Appalachia in Transition



UUCSJ is excited to partner with local congregations and grassroots organizations to offer week-long immersion journeys to West Virginia.

Join us for a hands-on learning experience working with and learning from communities striving for a new, post-coal future.

This program is available for adult congregational groups, youth groups, and multi-generational groups.


Why travel to West Virginia?

West Virginia has significant environmental, social, and economic injustices that revolve around the state’s long history of coal mining. Some have called this part of Appalachia “third-world” America due to it’s high rates of poverty.

After stopping in the state capital to learn more about West Virginia and hear an overview of many of the challenges residents face, participants will travel deep into the Appalachia region of the state to have a hands-on experience working with and learning from communities struggling for a new, post-coal future.

As we all grapple with the current political moment, it is more important than ever to cross boundaries within our own country; to humbly listen and try to make sense of the various struggles people are facing.

What organizations will we visit?

We are working with the UU congregation in Charleston, WV so that groups may be able to begin and end the program in Charleston. While in Charleston, we will learn from members of the congregations and local grassroots groups about the issues facing West Virginia today.

From Charleston, the group will take a journey out to the Appalachian mountains to work with one of two grassroots organizations. The first option is Big Creek People in Action in War, WV. The other option is Appalachian Community Partners in Beards Fork, WV. Both organizations host service-learning groups and allow a deep immersion into the culture of the community, while also organizing construction projects for the group to participate in during the week.


How can our congregation or youth group organize a journey to WV?

We can tailor this program specifically for your congregation; if your congregation or youth group is interested in organizing a journey to West Virginia, please contact info@uucsj.org.

Journeys to WV will be available beginning in Fall 2017 and are approximately one week long, from Saturday to Sunday.

How much does this journey cost?

Cost: $700-$800 per person*, doesn’t include airfare.

* If the group drives to West Virginia and uses personal vehicles for transportation, the cost will be closer to $700

* If the group flies to West Virginia, we will need to rent vans, and the cost will be closer to $800

Financial aid is available for up to 50% (75% for youth groups) of program costs based on need and is awarded on a first come, first serve basis. Please fill out the financial aid request section of the program application.

For additional fundraising we recommend that participants use Faithify, the Unitarian Universalist crowd funding website, which can help individuals raise money to cover their costs.

Sample Itinerary

Click here to download a sample itinerary for this program. Please note that this is a pilot program, so the itinerary could change quite a bit.

Additional Resources to learn more about West Virginia

Hollow - An Interactive Documentary

This interactive documentary is an incredible experience, it takes the viewer through the hopes, dreams and struggles of one of the poorest countries in the country (McDowell Couny, WV).

Guardian Video on McDowell County

This video, entitled “Why the poorest county in West Virginia has faith in Donald Trump,” was made during the 2016 election cycle. It sheds light on the realities of people’s lives in rural Appalachia.

Appalachia's Sacrifice

This recent article in the New York Times outlines the unjust situation of drinking water in Appalachia, and the struggles surrounding the fight for clean water.

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