New pastor looking forward to forming new UMC church here

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 24, 2002

&uot;Pastoring a church was not on my top 3 list,&uot; the Rev. Greg West said. &uot;I’m glad we did.&uot;

The Burbage Grant resident recently came to this area from Danville with his wife, Eileen, and two children (&uot;We’re definitely a team effort&uot;) for the purpose of not only leading a congregation, but a more challenging task: to form a new one for the United Methodist Church.

Sent by the bishop of the UMC, West compares the mission of church planners to &uot;setting the DNA&uot; – those basic components of human life.&uot; With a core group of 17 people, they’re on their way slowly but surely to creating a church that will be called either Faith Harbor Church or Grace Harbor Church.

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Among that group is Bob Riggles, with whom he attended seminary in Lexington, Ky. in the 1990s.

&uot;We’re just incredibly fortunate,&uot; West said to have Riggles and his wife join the founders. That description also extends to Tommy Hearndon, district superintendent, who is praised for &uot;thinking outside the box,&uot; and Howie Godwin, a gifted guitarist.

More important to him personally is his wife, whom he describes as &uot;incredibly encouraging&uot; and &uot;a prayer partner….We’re definitely a team effort…. She’s got a lot of gifts for the ministry, but believes her biggest calling is as a mom.&uot;

A 1992 graduate of Old Dominion University, West became a Christian during his time there. As with many other college-age people, he saw religion to be &uot;irrelevant and archaic.&uot; He credits the ODU Christian Fellowship as being instrumental for this transition from a life of partying, which West said &uot;left me empty…ultimately I sought purpose and started asking the big questions.&uot;

This eventually led to answering a call, and he became strongly interested in mission work with Hispanics until approached by his supervisors to start a church.

&uot;God’s grace and prayer&uot; have seen him through from the start of this daunting task. &uot;It was tough,&uot; West said, spreading the word. He has traveled through Virginia and interviewed other church planners. This has not been without its rewards for contacts have been made to strengthen all concerned with this project.

In summarizing the mission and vision of the Harbor Church, West believes that everyone has an innate desire to make a positive change in this world, and &uot;a desire to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, to do something that will outlast us. Deep down, we want our lives to matter.&uot;

For more information, contact West at 484-5678, 289-9555 or e-mail: