This second post in our pastoral series comes from another of Atchison County's beloved Shepherds: Pastor Rusty Smith. Rusty is the kind of person and leader we like to celebrate around here. His demeanor (and his commentary, as you'll see below) demonstrates the fact that he always looks for the Good. We are thankful for him, his family, and all others in our county who share their unique, challenging, and critical calling. Thank you for all you do!!!
Serving God in Atchison County is a blessing I have fun friendships, a dear church family, awesome colleagues in ministry, kind neighbors and schools filled with community servants who provide my children with a quality education. I am grateful that my family and I are able to love and be loved here. Since coming to pastor in Tarkio and Westboro nearly five years ago, I have said a statement time and again: “for such a small community, there sure are a lot of people.” What I mean by saying that is it seems I am always meeting people I have not met before. I also recognize there are those in my midst whom I find myself knowing by sight but not by name. I have noticed when local people wave at me, greet me, smile at me, or even simply acknowledge me, it does not necessarily indicate they know me. It is simply a manner and grace interwoven in the fabric of our community. I am always humored by the reaction Carla and I get when we share this relational hospitality in some other communities. Most people love and welcome it. Some are surprised by it…and, well, a few times I feared we had triggered some gang violence…it is still worth sharing.
Too often I hear our community defined by what it is not, or by what it used to be. The greatness of our past is honored best when it leads to the greatness of our today and to the hope of our tomorrows. It is the heart of my hope that the character and strengths of our community can be recognized more and more. If we look around and grab hold of the greatness of our midst, we will be the better for it. I know that such forward-thinking is envisioned by the two founders of this blog, and many others all around us. Being a pastor in our community gives me the opportunity to encourage others to learn from and cherish one’s past. For our past made us who we are today, to make the most of today as a gift from God, and to hope for the best that is yet to come! That is my hope for our community as well.
Striving to make the most of it,
Pastor Rusty Smith
Tarkio AND Westboro United Methodist Church