Rev. Ralph W. Beiting Remembered on 100th Birthday 

Submitted by tadams on Mon, 12/18/2023

By Brianna Stephens 

When Rev. Ralph W. Beiting first came to Appalachia, he said he had a dream the size of a mustard seed to make an impact on the great need he saw in Eastern Kentucky. Through his unwavering faith and dedication to helping people, and the support of volunteers and donors, his dream came to be through his founding of Christian Appalachian Project (CAP) in 1964. As CAP prepares to celebrate our 60th anniversary in August 2024, we will start the year recognizing the 100th birthday of our founder on January 1, 2024.
CAP’s beginnings were the acts of service Beiting did when he was called to Appalachia to pastor a small parish. Seeing the need of so many children, their families, and seniors in the region, he often drove carloads of food, clothing, and other essential items great distances to meet those needs. He then began developing programming to meet people where they were and ease the stressors they faced. The passion he had for his work was palpable to CAP employees and volunteers.   

“I was privileged to be able to work with him during the 1980s,” said Anita Seals, vice president of human services at CAP. In her role, she oversees the development of the organization’s programming. “I remember him coming around to the different programs and he would talk to us about CAP and how he wanted to make a difference in the lives of people in Appalachia. He was so inspiring that it made you feel like you could accomplish anything.” 

Beiting is remembered by many as a kind, courageous, and genuine man. Rather than sitting at a desk from day to day, you could often find him in the programs visiting with participants or serving alongside employees and volunteers. Gracie Smith, a CAP mission groups facilitator, met him as a student at Mountain Christian Academy, a school Beiting helped found. The school is a special place to Smith who made some of her fondest childhood memories there. Today, CAP’s Louis T. Foley Mission Center stands on the former school grounds and houses groups and volunteers who come to serve in CAP’s programs.  

“I’m now working in the same building where I once played hopscotch on the back patio and made lifelong friends so many years ago,” Smith said. “I’m proud to have the opportunity to continue on with Rev. Beiting’s dream and to be able to give back to the community I love.” 

Johnetta Bernhart is proud of the opportunity she has to continue her service as a volunteer with CAP because of Beiting’s vision for Appalachia. She met him in the 1990s while volunteering and was impacted by his passion for helping people in Eastern Kentucky. 

“God models the power of connection by sending Jesus to walk, teach, love and live among us. So, too, we are called to do in service to one another,” Bernhart said. “Rev. Beiting answered this call in a big way, creating a program of empowerment through connection by standing, working, and living among the people of Eastern Kentucky.” 

While Beiting passed away at the age of 88 on August 9, 2012, his legacy continues to live on through CAP’s enduring mission of building hope, transforming lives, and sharing Christ’s love through service in Appalachia.  

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