To our sisters and brothers in the mountains, grace to you all and peace in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
There is a long low cry of pain that moves through the mountains like the wind. And our God, the God of Exodus and Easter, hears that cry, and turns God's face toward the mountains, and speaks God's Word to the people, and it is a Word of justice and of hope.
APPALACHIA IS DESCRIBED by the Appalachian Regional Commission as 397 counties in 13 states reaching from northern Mississippi to southern New York. It is urban and it is rural, it is steel mills and coal mines and farms. It is rich and it is poor.
We release this pastoral letter at the Appalachian assembly in December 1992. The recent presidential campaign focused on the fractured and unjust state of the American economy and the discontent of the American people. What is true throughout our country is doubly true in Appalachia and has been so for generations.
Our region reveals all the characteristics of American economic life at its worst, and connects our people by chains of suffering to sisters and brothers in other exploited places like South America and Africa. So Appalachia has been properly defined as a part of the Third World within the United States.
Per capita income in Appalachia is below 70 percent of the U.S. average, a decline of 5.35 percent during the past 10 years. Twenty-five percent of the region's children live in poverty; unemployment is consistently higher than in the nation as a whole. All of this translates into two words--suffering and hopelessness.