A quick note – I am committed to doing my best to provide you these letters each Tuesday. Yesterday there was an issue with Mailchimp that kept me from sending this. Thanks for your patience!

This week in place of the Weekly Letter I would like to share a video of a friend of mine, Pastor Travis Lowe, reading a very moving article about our sister city – Bluefield, WV. Not too many people get to hear about what it is actually like in West Virginia and fewer still travel here to see for themselves – what the legacy, challenges, hopes and opportunities are here when you move past the heavy blanket of stereotypes. Travis reads his article from a Christian writer’s conference he launched a few years ago – Hope Words. He invited me as we caught up over the phone a few weeks back. I am not a Christian but share a love of writing and a deep faith in God with the Christian community so I enthusiastically accepted the invitation. Still, I had no idea what to expect. He said 700 people from around the country and even from other countries were coming to this town that is in the early stages of pulling out of tough times, 2 hours from any small airport.

The conference blew me away. Travis is too humble to have shared the full extent of the crowd that made the pilgrimage. As the conference unfolded I find myself blind-sighted listening to New York Times writers, best selling authors and world renowned theologians. Like my friend, Travis Lowe, the room was filled with devout social and economic justice writers and activists and the speakers were those they looked up to. This town got to see itself come alive, a trolly ran. The restaurants were full. The local churches made mountains of desserts. We congregated at The Granada – a large, beautiful, newly remodeled theater. But I don’t want to take your time reading my words on all of this. Please take a moment to watch Travis read his article here.

He gives a really nice intro on the conference and the area and then he reads his article 6 minutes in. I would love to hear any thoughts or reactions you have to it.

Go, fight, win.