Mountain T.O.P. (Tennessee Outreach Project) is an interdenominational, non-profit Christian Mission affiliated with the Tennessee Conference of the United Methodist Church, dedicated to rural life ministry in the Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee.
The Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee is an area distinguished by natural beauty, rich cultural textures, and a history of economic injustice and persistent rural poverty. The people of this region meet their many physical hardships with faith and resourcefulness. But the constant struggle against the indignity of poverty often gives rise to feelings of shame, loneliness, and despair that can be even more devastating than the lack of physical resources.
Mountain T.O.P. takes a holistic approach to the physical, spiritual, social, and emotional needs that people face in this part of Appalachia. While the problems here are complex, our approach is simple. We believe that the heart of Christian ministry is about forming relationships through the love of Christ—a love powerful enough to overcome hopelessness, to fight injustice, and to break through the cultural, racial, and ideological barriers that divide us.
Specifically, Mountain T.O.P. seeks to empower those it serves through a philosophy of partnership. Every aspect of how our camp operates is made possible through partnering with the community, local businesses, friends of the ministry and participants. For example, any family or individual we work with is given the opportunity to contribute to the project, whether that is through providing a meal for the work group or providing materials for the project. We try to be intentional in saying we work “with” a family instead of “for” a family. We find it makes the most sense to approach ministry as a partnership, so that ownership is divided among everyone involved. Ministry then becomes what can we do with one another versus what can I do for you?
Likewise, we have immersed ourselves in the same communities for over 35 years. We make it a point to form relationships with our neighbors and to stimulate the local businesses that will sustain this region economically.
- ECFA Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability