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In Praise of Small Towns

June 7, 2008
By The Rev. Marvin Parli, First Baptist Church
The last few weeks, I have been thinking a lot about the joy of living in a small town.

Last week, I officiated at a funeral for a friend. He was a person of strong faith. He also was a person who had some challenges. In a larger town, he might not have received the support and care that he needed. Thankfully, he lived in Elkins. People got to know him, to experience his heart, to help him and enjoy his faith. He even was awarded a volunteer certificate of some sort for his help at the baseball field. I was proud of our small town for what I saw in his life.

This past week, a couple of relatives came to visit. I showed them around some of the sights of our area. We enjoyed the beauty of Blackwater Falls. We hiked through some of the woods. Because of the rain, the woods were so alive and green and spectacular. Almost heaven is a fitting description of West Virginia and of Randolph County.

Family members came to Elkins to be a part of our high school graduation. We are all proud of our children watching them grow up. Maybe you had family members graduate this year or can fondly remember when someone did. This year my youngest son, Sean, graduated from high school, and we are proud and delighted in his growth. We wish to thank all of those people who had a hand in helping our children grow up in a small town. I am thankful that our children were able to grow up here, to experience the support and nurture of a caring small community.

There certainly are opportunities to learn and develop in a small town. This year as our educational system is experiencing scrutiny and in such moments, I believe it is especially important to be thankful for those working in the schools and to thank the many people who have helped nurture and train our children. There are problems everywhere, even here, but let us not forget the joys of living in a small town.

Did you know that the majority of our presidents historically have grown up in small towns? I don’t know what impact that will have in the current presidential contest as one candidate grew up in Hawaii while another was born at CoCo Navel Air Station in Panama. At any rate, there is something about confidence and opportunities and experiencing leadership that is nurtured best in small towns.

Think about it, many of the great religious figures down the years came from small towns: most of the prophets of the Old Testament, other world religious figures, even Jesus grew up in small towns. So this week, I hope that you will think positively about who we are, and where we are. There is a principal of faith here at work. The apostle Paul, who grew up in the small community of Tarsus, put it this way, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such thing.” Philippians 4:8.

(The opinions of this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Inter-Mountain, the Randolph County Ministerial Association or the author’s church affiliation.)



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