Melting ice caps. Rising sea levels. Global wildfires. Mass extinctions.

Global warming can seem like a problem too big to do anything about. Yet in the Appalachian foothills of southeast Ohio, there is a growing network of people who are building local, sustainable ways of life. The Footprint of the Foothills Bible Study is a free resource for people of faith who are interested in looking for local solutions to the global crisis of climate change. This video-based study can be used by individuals, small groups, Bible studies, UMW circles, or Sunday school classes. The four-week Bible study is not intended to guide a mere abstract discussion, but to encourage practical steps for individuals, churches, and communities to become more sustainable in their own local contexts.

Each of the four sessions:

  • Studies Scripture
  • Explores the historic economic realities of southeast Ohio
  • Examines a United Methodist Social Principle
  • Interviews experienced leaders of sustainable initiatives
  • Discusses pragmatic ways for people to 'Change the Climate' by living more sustainable lives.

Session 1: The Footprints of Forests

Appalachia contains the most diverse forest system in North America. Glaciers from the last Ice Age crawled to a stop just before they would have leveled these hills. Instead, they left an untouched wildland some 250 million years old. With thousands of plant species and hundreds of types of animals, these woods exemplify the beauty of God’s Creation.

Session 2: The Footprints of Fossil Fuels

Appalachia has long been known as Coal Country. At the height of the area’s coal boom, big mining companies would move into small towns, bringing the promise of jobs with them. Unfortunately, most of the profits were kept by larger corporations from outside the region. Local jobs would only last until the coal vein ran dry, at which point the company would move on to another place, leaving many towns devastated socially and economically.

Session 3: The Footprints of Farms

People have been nourished by the land of Southeast Ohio for at least 12,000 years. From native cultures to European settlers, farming techniques have adapted and changed through generations. Yet in recent decades, it has become increasingly difficult for smaller farms to compete with the lower prices of big agriculture, as customers have begun to worry more about saving money than investing in local foods.

Session 4: The Footprint of a Community

People who are environmentally conscious often think of their own individual carbon footprint. However, in Southeast Ohio, groups of individuals are trying to change the footprint of an entire region. Nonprofit organizations, private businesses, and everyday people are working together to preserve the environment, restore the economy, and invest in local communities for the transformation of the world.

Additional Resources

The Footprint of the Foothills Bible Study

A Non-Expert’s Guide to Living More Sustainably

Highlight Videos

Extended Interviews

Website Links:


Questions? Want to continue the conversation?

Contact Mariellyn Grace at