Appalachia Service Project Deeply Rooted in Nashville
Appalachia Service Project (ASP), in celebration of its 50 years of service, held an Anniversary Celebration dinner in Nashville, Tennessee in February, honoring many individuals and groups who helped to pave the road for such a milestone.
Rev. Jim Robinson was among those honored for his critical leadership and service in the very earliest days of this volunteer based ministry. Well known pastor in the Nashville area, Robinson recently retired as an Elder of the Tennessee Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. He considers Calvary United Methodist Church his “church home.”
ASP, now a nationally known and highly respected non-profit service agency was birthed in Nashville 50 years ago at the United Methodist Board of Discipleship under the inspirational leadership of Rev. Glenn “Tex” Evans. Rev. Evans chose as his “right hand man” the young Robinson, then a student at Vanderbilt Divinity School. Robinson played a critical logistical role for several years in the founding arrangements of this visionary expression of Christian love in action.
At a 50th Anniversary Celebration Dinner, Robinson was presented the prestigious “Life Time Achievement” Award by current ASP President and CEO, Rev. Dr. Walter Crouch. Robinson and others speaking about his ministry reflected on the many “hats” he wore in those formative early days of sending small volunteer service teams into the hills and hollows of Appalachia to make homes “warmer, safer and drier” … a lasting theme of ASP’s mission. Rev. Robinson, later in his career served for several years as the Chairperson, and is now an “emeritus” member, of the ASP Board of Directors.
Mr. John O. Pierce, Ernst & Young Partner, and current Chair of the ASP Board of Directors, also a Nashvillian, member of Belmont UMC, and former ASP staff member, presided over ceremonies and regaled the various contributions of all being recognized and honored. Pierce has provided outstanding administrative leadership over substantial growth in the ASP reach, budget, and staff. He is a wonderful example of one whose life was transformed and molded as a young missioner by hands-on volunteer experience.
The Rev. Rosemary Brown of Nashville and the late Bishop Rueben Job, represented by his widow Mrs. Beverly Job, of Nashville, were also recognized for their leadership and service as strong supporters and former Chairs of the Board of Directors. The Rev. Beth Richardson, a current staff member of Nashville’s UMC Board of Discipleship, as well as a former ASP Staffer, received a plaque of recognition presented to the current “Discipleship Ministries Office” as the founding agency for ASP which is now a fully ecumenical ministry with many varied denominations involved.
Calvary UMC of Nashville’s Greenhills area, received special honors for having sent the most volunteer teams to ASP projects … 48 years, groups of youth and adults from this congregation have been serving. Rev. B.J. Brack and lay ASP leader, Kevin Walkup, represented the congregation for this presentation. The children of the founder, Rev. Tex Evans, Calvary members and residents of Nashville, have also been recognized and thanked for their support of their father’s faithful endeavors to bring hope and dignity to the, often forgotten, Appalachian people.
From its meager beginnings, Appalachia Service Project is now one of the oldest and largest volunteer agencies addressing the needs for adequate housing among the many isolated and underserved residents of parts of eastern Kentucky, western Virginia, eastern Tennessee, southwestern Virginia, and western North Carolina. This past year, 16,231 volunteers served with ASP, providing critical repairs for 493 families in addition to constructing over 60 new homes in flooded and burned out areas of east Tennessee.
Mr. Abraham McIntyre, with deep roots in Nashville and the TN Conference of the UMC, serves as the Vice President of Strategic Partnerships / Assistant to the President in the Johnson City, TN headquarters of the ASP operations.
Since 1969, 393,643 volunteers from across the nation have repaired 17,866 homes and, in the process, Appalachian families, volunteers, and staff have been immeasurably blessed. Appalachia Service Project envisions the eradication of substandard housing in Central Appalachia and the transformation of everyone who comes in contact with this ministry. For more information about involvement with ASP visit their website www.ASPhome.org today.