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Journeys of Discovery: The Buckle of the Bible Belt’s shape notes and Red Back Hymnal

Thomas Wilmer
Melissa Woody talks about the Red Back Hymnal, Lee University, The Church of God's historic connection with Cleveland and major corporations such as Whirlpool that are based in Cleveland..

A short drive from Chattanooga, Tennessee is the town of Cleveland. A stroll down the main drag reveals a sleepy, slow-paced community with old brick buildings and enchanting homes right out of a Jimmy Stewart, Frank Capra flick. Cleveland, a city of less than 50,000 souls has been chugging along since its incorporation in the 1840s. The local work force has plenty of employment options with Whirlpool, Mars candy bars, Duracell, Olin and Coca Cola operations based in Cleveland.

"Church" is an intrinsic part of Cleveland's fabric. The Church of God’s Lee University is Tennessee’s fastest growing private university. Song is central to the Church of God’s evangelic, Pentecostal ministry, which explains why the Cleveland based denomination was dubbed “The Singing Church” way back in the early 1900s. The most popular hymnal book in America, "The Red Back", has been printed in Cleveland since 1951.

This show was originally broadcast July 11, 2016 and is reposted as a “best-of-the-best” podcast in celebration of Journeys of Discovery’s 30th anniversary producing on-air and digital media podcasts featured on KCBX and NPR One.

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer in Cleveland, Tennessee for a visit with Melissa Woody at the Museum Center at Five Points where Ms. Woody talks about the Red Back Hymnal, Lee University, and "church" as an integral part of life in Cleveland.

The underbed music used in this podcast, "Away Over the Promised Land" is from the Phipps Family album "Faith, Love and Tragedy" on the Smithsonian Folkways label.

You are invited to subscribe to the Lowell Thomas Award-winning travel show podcast, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, featured on the NPR Podcast DirectoryApple PodcastiHeartRadio, the NPR One App & Twitter: TomCWilmer. Instagram: Thomas.Wilmer. Member of the National Press Club in Washington D.C. Underwriting support provided by Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative, and the Society of St. Vincent De Paul.

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