The history of EAM goes back some 45 years. During the early 1960’s, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church charged the bishops of the Appalachian Region with the task of proactively addressing the issues connected to the rampant poverty and social justice issues identified in Appalachia. It was a period of sweeping social changes within the United States, as a whole, with the rise of the Civil Rights movement. In Appalachia a revolution was also occurring in that people outside the region were made aware of the extreme poverty and civil rights abuses of the coal industry.
EAM evolved out of this movement. During this period the Appalachian Bishops help to organize and start the Appalachian People’s Service Organization or APSO. The Rev. Baldwin “B” Lloyd was its first Executive Coordinator. “B” was very well known for his outspoken advocacy of the Appalachian people. In particularly, with his outspokenness around civil rights, domestic poverty and coal mining practices. One of “B’s” gifts was an ability to organize people at the grass-roots level.
Upon Father Lloyd’s retirement in the 1980’s, Ms. Sandra Elledge took the reigns as Executive Coordinator of EAM. It was during this period that the name change from APSO to Episcopal Appalachian Ministries occurred.
As with “B” Lloyd, Sandy brought with her a passion for the Appalachian people and its culture. Sandy was very instrumental in helping start the work camp at Grace House on the Mountain in Wise County, VA. In addition to her duties as the Executive Coordinator for EAM, Sandy oversaw and coordinated the work camp in Southwestern Virginia each summer during her tenure. The work camp grew into a three week project each summer and continues to this day.
In 2008, Sandy Elledge retired and Mr. Michael Maloney, a former EAM president, took over as interim Executive Coordinator for EAM. Mike brought with him an expertise and passion for advocacy work. Mike is an Appalachian Scholar and is the co-editor of a textbook on Appalachia entitled: Appalachia: Social Context Past and Present. Mike has written about and taught Appalachian Studies for many years. Mike was very instrumental in his role as president of EAM to help EAM connect with other social justice and environmental justice agencies within the Episcopal Church and regionally with organizations such as CORA and the AAC.
In January of 2010, The Rev. Dcn. Gordon Brewer was called as Executive Coordinator for EAM. EAM then moved its offices to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church located in Kingsport, TN. Gordon serves as deacon to St. Christopher’s also in Kingsport. In addition to his half-time duties as Executive Coordinator, Gordon is in private practice as a Marriage and Family Therapist. His tenure ended in March of 2017.