RELIGION Statements of Belief at Pine Mountain Settlement School

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series   : RELIGION
Pine Mountain Settlement School
Statements of Belief

STATEMENTS OF BELIEF AT PINE MOUNTAIN SETTLEMENT SCHOOL

Statement of Belief. Pine Mountain Settlement School. n.d. PMSS Printshop

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STATEMENTS OF BELIEF AT PINE MOUNTAIN SETTLEMENT SCHOOL

The peoples who settled the Central Appalachians were a deeply religious and a deeply independent people. The settlement workers who came to work with this diverse population which often had roots in deeply fundamental religious practice and beliefs. Several of the Directors of the School were ministers (Glyn Morris, Alvin Boggs) and other staff, such as the Rev. Stapleton at Linefork Medical Settlement and other lay ministers have left their mark on the religious life of the School. The religious practice in the broader community was diverse and eclectic and any discussion of beliefs was sure to call up deeply embedded religious ideas and convictions. Conversations often marked the individual as a sincere and steadfast holder of his/her convictions.  Deeply held beliefs, as well as outspoken convictions, were broadly respected within the Pine Mountain institution and largely within the community it served.

The religious beliefs of Katherine Pettit are difficult to isolate as are those of her Co-founder, Ethel de Long Zande though there is no doubt as to their sincere and deeply held Christian convictions. The Workers who came to Pine Mountain in the early years had varying ideologies and religious convictions and all were discouraged from any proselytizing actions.  Many of the staff had been part of Congregationalist missionary ventures and many returned to that field upon leaving Pine Mountain. Some Workers came as Presbyterians and left as Quakers. Some came with strong sectarian religious beliefs and were left questioning their belief systems. 

The literature of the Settlement School is replete with religious statements, but rarely with declarations of or demands for adherence to a singular denomination.  Holiness, Presbyterian, Methodist, Evangelical United Brethren, Congregationalist, Catholic, Quaker Congregation, Episcopalian, Baptist, and a myriad of hybrid religious congregants put aside their fundamental belief system for the greater belief in a common destiny in God’s Kingdom.

The fundamental belief system that is deeply rooted in the Pine Mountain Settlement School as an institution, is that declared first by William Creech who donated the primary tract of land for the School.  Uncle Williams Reasons continues to be the North Star for those seeking an institutional statement on religion and the conduct of one’s belief system. Almost a Declaration of Independence, Uncle William’s Reasons for the Pine Mountain Settlement School have been edited over the years but the fundamental message is one of educated respect for the beliefs of everyone. 

An Old Man’s Hope for the Children of the Kentucky Mountains

I don’t look after wealth for them. I look after the prosperity of our nation. I want all younguns taught to serve the livin’ God. Of course, they wont all do that, but they can have good and evil laid before them and they can choose which they will. I have heart and craving that our people may grow better. I have deeded my land to the Pine Mountain Settlement School to be used for school purposes as long as the Constitution of the United States stands. Hopin’ it may make a bright and intelligent people after I’m dead and gone.

GLYN MORRIS,  REINHOLD NIEBUHR, AND THE PROGRESSIVE ERA

 Morris championed the development of the individual while insisting on a community consciousness, removing the “tight places” that administrators often find themselves by sharing the responsiblity of administering behavioral issues with a student committee.