Salvation on Sand Mountain

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Salvation on Sand Mountain
15th Anniversary Cover
Author Dennis Covington
Cover artist Jim Neel
Country United States
Language English
Genre Non-Fiction
Publisher Addison-Wesley
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 272 pp
ISBN 978-0-14-025458-7

Salvation on Sand Mountain is a 1995 non-fiction book by Dennis Covington.[1] The storyline follows the author as he goes from covering the trial of Glenn Summerford to experiencing a snake handling church in Appalachia. The book was a finalist for the National Book Award.


The book begins with Covington's first visit to a Church of God with Signs Following, located in an old gas station. It is here that he meets many of the longtime members of the church, and comes to find that the following has decreased in numbers due to the conviction of Glenn Summerford. In this first service, no snakes are taken out, but Covington does notice some peculiar things about the church such as the electric guitar and long prayer session. The next time he goes to worship here though, snakes are taken out, where one member of the congregation is described as "putting his face up to the snake's face".[2]

As the book progresses, more back story is given on the church, such as how Summerford attempted to kill his wife via snake bite and make it look like suicide, and how the church split over the issue of where the funding for the church should go. Eventually, Covington goes to a church service on the titular Sand Mountain.

Writing style[edit]

The book is written in first-person that begins in a neutral, journalistic style and becomes more emotional as the author is drawn to the people and practices of the church.


Salvation on Sand Mountain was a non-fiction finalist for the National Book Award.[3] Publishers Weekly described the text as "a captivating glimpse of an exotic religious sect."[4] Booklist described it as a "fascinating work [that] catches the essence of a place, southern Appalachia, its people, and the author's personal journey into his past."[5]


External links[edit]