Documentary Tells Story of Red Bird Mission

December 29, 2009

Update: KET will air Mission Appalachia March 3 at 3:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., and March 6 at 1:00 p.m. All times are EST. View KET's schedule here.

In 2004, Todd Scoggins, an Indiana architect, made the first of what would become an annual mission trip to Red Bird Mission, an agency of the Red Bird Missionary Conference in southeastern Kentucky. Four years later, Scoggins brought his 11-year-old daughter along to Red Bird on her first mission trip. He took his camcorder on the trip and recorded a video diary of his daughter’s week.

Watching his daughter’s interaction with other volunteers and the family they were assisting, Scoggins says, “I realized that the Red Bird experience is a wonderfully inspiring story that should be told in a documentary.”

With no prior experience in documentary filmmaking, and using only consumer equipment bought from a local retailer, Scoggins travelled to Appalachia for two weeks of on-location filming. He followed the stories of several local residents and the volunteers who had journeyed from many parts of the United States to bring support into this economically depressed area.

The result is an hour-long feature film titled Mission Appalachia – The Story of Red Bird, a moving compilation of stories revealing the struggles, perseverance, and faith of a very distinctive group of Americans. The film also reveals the mission’s unique methodology.

“This is not welfare,” Scoggins explains. “Whenever possible, the Red Bird model seeks to help local residents get back on their own feet and establish a measure of self reliance.” The mission offers educational programs from preschool through adult GED classes. It also provides job training and programs to help local residents with a talent for craft-making develop their hobby into a profitable small business. Red Bird also has a range of community outreach programs, a regional health clinic, and a housing improvement program. 

Scoggins has donated the film and reproduction rights to the Red Bird Mission. They will sell copies from their community store and online.  All proceeds will go directly to the mission. Mission Appalachia – The Story of Red Bird is available on DVD from the Red Bird Mission website,, by calling 1-800-898-2709, or by sending an email request to People interested in the project can also log onto the film’s website at