From: G. K.
Subject: The positives
Date: Mar, 2013
I’ve been up here in rural Appalachia for almost 4 years now. I’ve met many people in this community of Summersville, West Virginia, conducted a number of funerals and weddings of both the prominent and the downtrodden, and have been in most of the schools in this county from elementary schools to the high school.
My church has grown a bit, and has become quite active in social justice areas. Our food pantry has seen a more than 250% increase in usage over the last year. In other words, I’ve been interacting with many people in this community from the young to the old and have done so consistently barefoot. People I may have only seen in passing know me because of my unshod state. I am greeted by the phrase “barefoot pastor” quite frequently and during the recovery from the snowstorm brought about by hurricane Sandy, I was actually introduced to the Governor of the state of West Virginia as “Our Barefoot Pastor” by a politician I really didn’t know.
Today I visited with a couple looking for help. They said they knew to contact me because they had heard “the barefoot pastor” is the one who may be able to offer help. Yesterday, we took in a donation to our food pantry from a company who had heard of what the pantry was doing and its “barefoot pastor” who administered it.
The point? By being visible and doing positive things, people may begin to associate folks who are barefoot in a positive, not negative manner. I’ve not even heard myself referred to as a hippie, or my being barefoot as being dirty. Questions? Sure, but by answering them in a positive manner, others can learn a bit, and perhaps have a more open mind when interacting with the next barefoot person they may meet up with.
G., the barefoot pastor from West Virginia