This is a brief historical overview of the movement to give some background, and if you want to read more on it, there are an abundance of excellent resources out there available.
- Some of the best are Thomas Burton’s Serpent Handling Believers, David Kimbrough’s Taking Up Serpents
- Ralph Hood’s and Paul Williamson’s Them That BelieveAnother good reference is Fred Brown’s bookThe Serpent Handlers – Their Families and Their Faith, which focuses specifically on three prominent families in this movement; the Browns in Tennessee, the Coots in Kentucky, and the Elkins in West Virginia
- For a first-hand perspective written by one of their own pastors, Jimmy Morrow’sHandling Serpents is a valuable resource. There are others, however, that I would not recommend due to the fact they misrepresent the people and cannot be trusted except for minimal reference purposes.
- One book that is actually a shameful piece of scholarship is Weston LaBarre’s 1973 text,They Shall Take Up Serpents. LaBarre was an anthropologist who often presented his subjects in a condescending manner, and therefore he has no credibility for me.
- Also Dennis Covington’s Salvation on Sand Mountain with extreme caution – the book has some value as a reference, but Covington comes across as being a little flaky and he also created some issues among the serpent-handlers which hurt his credibility with them.
- These references, as well as the 1982Foxfire 7 volume which also gives a good documentation on a serpent-handling church in Kentucky, will aid in research.
The Apostolic House of Prayer in WV
The Edwina Church of God in Jesus Christ’s name, Del Rio, TN – pastored by Jimmy Morrow
The Full Gospel Jesus Church in Columbus, OH – formerly pastored by Richard Williams
The Church of the Lord Jesus in Jolo, WV, perhaps the most famous serpent-handling church in existence.
The Pentecostal Church of God in Lejunior, KY, an early serpent-handling congregation
The Full Gospel Tabernacle in Middlesboro, KY, pastored by Jamie Coots
The Rock House Holiness Church, Sand Mountain, AL
the Tabernacle Church of God in Jesus Name in Lafollette, TN, pastored by Andrew Hamblin