(Photo: Terry Shaffer Hall)
Knoxville, Tenn., known for being the home of Dolly Parton and the Tennessee Valley Authority, was named number one on the American Bible Society's "Most Bible-Minded Cities" list.
With research conducted by the Barna Group, the ABS' recently released findings were based off of seven years' worth of telephone and online interviews with a random sample space of 42,855 adults. After Knoxville, the other nine cities on the top ten list in descending order are: Shreveport, La.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Birmingham, Ala.; Jackson, Miss.; Springfield, Mo.; Charlotte, N.C.; Roanoke and Lynchburg, Va. sharing the number 8 spot; Huntsville, Ala.; and Charleston, W. Va. at number 10.
Geoffrey Morin, chief communications officer at American Bible Society, told The Christian Post that the top cities were "those whose residents have the highest combined levels of regular Bible reading and belief in the Bible's accuracy."
Morin said that while Barna and ABS "are continuously evaluating interaction with and views of the Bible among Americans" the list "is the first time we have dove down this deep looking specifically at individual cities across America."
Dr. Chris Stephens, senior pastor of the multisite Faith Promise Church, told CP that learning about his city being at the top of the list was "absolutely awesome." "There are a lot of good churches in Knoxville, Tennessee and there are some great coalitions of churches that work together to help the poor, help the under-resourced," said Stephens.
"Our churches work together. We are in together to complete each other not to compete with each other."
Stephens also shared about Faith Promise's extensive efforts to reach out and preach the Bible to the many neighborhoods in the Knoxville area. "We have about 300 adult group Bible studies that are all over the Knoxville area…we invite the neighbors to come and to study the Bible with us," said Stephens.
"We have outreaches into the inner city and into the ethnic groups. We've really tried to take the word all over the city."
While the ABS report noted the "Most Bible-Minded Cities," it also listed the top ten "Least Bible-Minded Cities" as well. Providence, R.I. and New Bedford, Mass. shared the number one spot; followed in descending order by Albany, N.Y.; Burlington, Vt.; Portland, Maine; Hartford and New Haven, Conn. at number 5; Boston, Mass.; San Francisco, Calif.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Buffalo, N.Y. at number 10.
When asked by CP if there was any official award handed out for good placement on the list, Morin of ABS responded that the cities listed would not get anything tangible per se. "No official award is given, but I did receive a call from the office of the mayor in Knoxville who was interested to learn that Knoxville scored highest in Bible-mindedness," said Morin.
"I have yet to get a call from mayors of cities closer to the bottom of the list, but I'd think we'd have plenty to talk about."