A well pad and holding pond for a hydraulically fractured gas well lie at the end of a gravel access road near Duckworth, W.Va. Aerial photography flight courtesy of SouthWings.
Emergency response and no trespassing signs line the road near a hydraulically fractured natural gas well outside West Finley, Pa.
A natural gas pipeline passes along a ridge where trees were cut to make way near Blandville, W.Va. The pipeline is buried beneath the strip of green grass that runs diagonally through the photo. Aerial photography flight courtesy of SouthWings.
Becky Crabtree can attest that it’s not easy.
Crabtree and her husband, Roger, have watched a nearby pipeline divide members of the congregation at Lindside United Methodist Church, where they attend.
“The pipeline has disrupted the church, with people on both sides of the issue, and there’s nothing like a church fight,” she said.
The pipeline runs along a hill right behind the church. At one point, construction caused a mudslide that flooded the church kitchen. The gas company’s insurance paid for a cleaner, but only for a day. Church members wound up doing most of the work.
Crabtree, who opposes the pipeline, said she’s in the minority.
“I lost my innocence in this fight. I’ve lost some friends, people I’ve known 30 years.”
She said she still attends the church, but less regularly.
“I can’t leave — my faith gets me through this. If I wasn’t a believer, then this would be pointless.”
The right of way for a natural gas pipeline passes through farmland near the community of Mountain, W.Va. The pipeline runs beneath the smooth area in the lower right corner of the photo, crossing a small creek at the edge of the tree line. Aerial photography flight courtesy of SouthWings.
Pipes that will be used for an underground natural gas transmission line lay in a newly cleared right of way near Beech, W.Va. Aerial photography flight courtesy of SouthWings.
A well pad for a hydraulically fractured gas well sits in a man-made clearing in the rolling hills near Duckworth, W.Va. Aerial photography flight courtesy of SouthWings.
Ashton Berdine also considers creation care a foundation of his faith.
“You can connect with a whole lot in nature,” he said. “Old hunters would say, ‘I’d rather sit on a stump on Sunday.’”
As lands program manager for the nonprofit West Virginia Land Trust, Berdine helps oversee and protect more than 10,000 acres of natural sites statewide.
“I’ve always thought the faith community was the solution to protecting, conserving the natural world. I wanted to know what The United Methodist Church was doing and how I could get involved,” he said.
His pastor directed him to the Justice and Advocacy Committee.
Photos by Mike DuBose, United Methodist News Service