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Farmville through a newcomer’s eyes

What do you do when you move to a new place?

If you’re anything like my husband and me, you begin by… looking around. Scanning your new hometown with newcomer’s eyes, taking it all in, and mentally filing away the locations that will be important to you.

Susie Thomas

For me, those important places include my church. I’m the new lead pastor at Farmville United Methodist. The closest coffeeshop – I’ve already spent several mornings at Uptown Coffee, the grocery store, hello, Food Lion, and the hardware store. My husband Britt and I have been frequenting the aisles of Lowes, in search of yet one more curtain rod, trash can, or shoe rack.

Our “looking around” missions have taken us often to Main Street, with its handsome storefronts, interesting variety of businesses, and its palpable sense of history. What a beautiful town we’ve been blessed to be called to. And what kind and friendly people we are fortunate to call our neighbors.

Britt and I arrived in Farmville about a month ago, and during that time we’ve met or heard from so many of you bearing a word of genuine welcome.

We came to Virginia from South Louisiana, and we’d thought that Bayou State residents held the title of the friendliest folks in the South, but I must tell you, Farmville, you’ve got them beat. We’ve been awed by the cards, the calls, the visits, the gifts of food. Today we received some beautiful garden-grown produce and a dozen fresh eggs. This Methodist minister and spouse are humbled by your kindness.

What else have I done during my “looking around” time? I’ve looked for signs of the movement of God’s Spirit in our midst, both in my church and here in our town, during this most difficult and unprecedented time we are living through.

Those signs have not been hard to find, churches continuing to worship God through online means, efforts being made to feed and to tend to our neighbors through Farmville Cares, back-to-school drives for our schoolchildren, interfaith and inter-racial dinners, missions, discussion groups, good people doing good work.

The pandemic has changed but in no way stopped the ways we reach out, one to another. “Surely, the presence of the Lord is in this place,” in the words of one of our worship songs.

In the days ahead, I look forward to continuing my “looking around” throughout Farmville and environs. I hope my travels will bring us together. Let’s all keep our eyes and ears open for what new thing God might be doing, my new neighbors, right here in our midst.

REV. SUSIE THOMAS is lead pastor of Farmville United Methodist Church. Her email address is sthomas@farmvilleumc.org.