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Smith installed as Presbyterian Church pastor

The Farmville Presbyterian Church congregation installed Rev. Dr. Peter C. Smith as its 26th pastor at a special service Sunday, June 27.

Smith, a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College, holds a doctorate of ministry from Union Theological Seminary in Richmond. He served as the interim pastor following the retirement of Dr. Thomas Robinson in 2020.

Rev. Steve Willis, moderator of the Presbytery of the Peaks, lead the service assisted by Rev. Keith Leach from College Presbyterian Church, Rev. Kim Jefferies from Madisonville Presbyterian Church, Janice Wells from Gethsemane Presbyterian Church, and Elizabeth Peaden from Briery Presbyterian Church. Rev. Beberly Bullock delivered the message. Special music was provided by organist Dr. Curtis Smith and clarinetist Cameron Mingea.

In commenting on how serving as an interim pastor impacted his decision to become the church’s installed pastor Smith said, ” When I came to help at Farmville Presbyterian Church, I saw both the opportunity to walk with the congregation through the upheaval of having lost their pastoral leadership while dealing with the pandemic and trying a new form of ministry, myself, since I had never been in this kind of ministerial role before. It was especially meaningful to provide some constancy and a foundation upon which to stand and see where God might be leading all of us.”

Before calling Smith, the congregation participated in a mission study and nominating process. David Smith, chairman of the nominating committee described the strengths Peter Smith brings to the church, “He embraces our members and our mission, is an active participant in community service, and enjoys visiting with members, both by phone and in person. His leadership, flexibility, and wisdom have guided us through the past year where he has shown enthusiasm, energy, a positive attitude, and a willingness to try new things.”

Smith said the area has always been a part of his life.

“The Farmville community has been a part of my personal history since 1990 when I enrolled at Hampden-Sydney College,” he said. “Later, I taught in the Prince Edward County public schools before going into ministry. My wife also spent meaningful years at Longwood University. We feel the opportunity is here to grow more history together. The church family has also been especially sweet and welcoming. Their resilience is remarkable, and I look forward to seeing how we answer God’s call to be led into new ministry. With the pandemic on the way out, our wonderful music program can reemerge along with the other ways our congregation connects to the community.”

The church was built as a meeting house in 1828 and the congregation was officially established in 1840.

Smith shared a bit about his vision for the future growth of the church.

“The greatest challenge is also our greatest strength,” he said. “There are so many years of life lived embodied in the folk who grace our pews, carry out the mission, and express the blessings of being family in faith. Our people here are not getting any younger, but they constantly impress me with their wisdom and vitality. They love getting together and meeting others, also. The next few years are really going to determine who we are going forward, so it is an awesome responsibility that I see before us.”