Call and Response

Call and Response: Justin Gellerson and Karen L. Cox

  Justin Gellerson . November 17, 2014. Boomer Christian Academy, Boomer, Fayette County, West Virginia.

Justin Gellerson. November 17, 2014. Boomer Christian Academy, Boomer, Fayette County, West Virginia.

Until I was six years old, the Rock of Ages Baptist Church in Huntington, West Virginia, was where I cut my teeth on old time religion. 

My clearest memories, though, are not of lessons learned, but of the ritual and performance I witnessed on a weekly basis. The women who shouted in the spirit of Jesus caused me to jump, even when I knew it was coming. The men who broke down in tears mesmerized me, and my eyes followed them as they walked down the aisle toward the sanctuary where the preacher beckoned them to give themselves to the Lord, while the choir sang “Just as I Am.” 

The attendance board reminds me of that church, as it measures the ebb and flow of the church flock. 

When my parents divorced there was nervous chatter about having a single woman as pretty as my mother still in attendance. So we left. Mom, my brother, and me. And in my little girl imagination, I saw that the following week’s attendance board registered three less souls. 

Karen L. Cox. Charlotte, North Carolina.


Call and Response is a photo-literary exploration devoted to the relationship between photographs and words. Using photographs from the Looking at Appalachia project, writers are encouraged to respond narratively to a single image in 1,000 words or less. We hope to use this platform to expand our community and encourage collaboration between photographers and writers. Learn more about how to submit here.