Helen Matthews Lewis: Living Social Justice in Appalachia

By Helen M. Lewis; Patricia D. Beaver et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
Telling Our Stories, 1999–2010

Bill J. Leonard

Stories build connections between people, provide ways to share knowl-
edge, strengthen civic networks, provide the tools to rebuild communities,
and produce the infrastructure, the social capital, which is essential in
democratic community-based development. You need to get people talk-
ing, planning, dreaming. As people begin telling stories of individuals and
local places, they share work histories, listen to stories from the elders
who recall the good old days and the bad old days. On these stories,
community is rebuilt, pride develops, a sense of identity and roots are
established.

—Helen Matthews Lewis, “Rebuilding Communities: A Twelve-Step
Recovery Program”

In May 2000, Helen Lewis joined Frederick Buechner, the well-known Presbyterian minister and author, in receiving an honorary doctorate from Wake Forest University. Buechner was named Doctor of Humane Letters in recognition of his distinguished literary contribution. Helen was both delighted and amazed that she, not Buechner, was given the degree Doctor of Divinity! It was no fluke. Any survey of Helen’s life as teacher, scholar, and writer cannot overlook the impact and implications of her work for religious communities, particularly those doing ministry through churches and community agencies in the Appalachian region.

The sources cited here give clear evidence of Helen’s response to the importance of faith, in whatever ways it may be expressed. Her own spirituality was born in southern Protestant churches where persons got “saved hard” in struggles with sin and salvation in seasonal revival meetings that raised

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Helen Matthews Lewis: Living Social Justice in Appalachia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1- The Making of An Unruly Woman, 1924–1955 12
  • Chapter 2- Breaking New Ground, 1955–1977 44
  • Chapter 3- Local to Global, 1975–1985 82
  • Chapter 4- Participatory Research, 1983–1999 124
  • Chapter 5- Telling Our Stories, 1999–2010 172
  • The Final Word 221
  • Chronology 231
  • Bibliography 237
  • Contributing Activists and Scholars 251
  • Index 257
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