Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Jennifer A. Adler

Committee Members

Tom Lee, Elwood Watson


The Appalachian Preaching Missions (1955-1981) occurred annually in Northeast Tennessee, with their predecessor, the Bristol Preaching Mission, dating back to at least 1949. Local churches, primarily Protestant, organized and convened these annual ecumenical gatherings. Nationally known clergy and laypeople from various denominations spoke, with up to several thousand congregants attending each mission. These individuals provided sermons and speeches on spiritual, domestic, and international issues. Among the most consistently repeated sermon themes was Christianity’s spiritual conflict with atheistic communism. This work addresses the missions’ origins and how the speakers spoke on international Christian missions in decolonized or developing nations as threatened by communist regimes, anxieties of nuclear proliferation, and the need for ecumenical cooperation. This work demonstrates that the choice of subject matter and speakers at the missions reflected wider American anti-communism, an increased politicization of Christianity, and ecumenical coalition building.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.