One chapter ends and a new one begins for former Fairmont pastor Robin Norsworthy

Jul. 30—FAIRMONT — Pastor of Central Christian Church, Doctor Robin Norsworthy recalls some of her best, silliest and most fun memories throughout her career as she prepares to retire.

She served as pastor at Central Christian Church for over five years and on July 24, she gave her last sermon. Throughout her time at the church, she oversaw the completion of construction projects, including a new roof, planned fundraisers, including an antique car show, and was an advocate for the Human Rights Commission, which met at the church, among other achievements.

"They're (the congregation) just a great group of people. Dedicated to the community to each other, very worshipful and we had a lot of fun. And I hope they keep on having fun," Norsworthy said.

A native of Georgia, Norsworthy said she loves West Virginia, and has lived many different places. During her time in Georgia and Alabama, she worked as a pastor at University Baptist Church, which had a daycare center that served families that received government assistance.

Of her accomplishments, she is most proud to have been able to work with those kids within the church daycare and summer camp.

"We partnered with a mental health organization, and I found some grants for us to offer a free day camp for the whole summer for at-risk kids. So, they came to the camp and mental health organizations taught drug awareness issues and other things, and we took them on a field trip. A lot of them had never been out of town.

"It was rewarding; it was hard. We had a lot of kids. There were so many children that wanted to be in it and our director had a huge heart, so she would let everyone come. There were times when we had 70 children and it was held in a small house. ... So, it got to be kind of wild and loud, but it was wonderful," Norsworthy said.

She also helped establish a community garden, which was located on church property.

After the death of her husband in 2016, she decided she wanted to move somewhere new. She saw a commercial for West Virginia and thought it looked so beautiful that, when she received a call to relocate to West Virginia, she was ready to visit.

"I was ready to come to a place that had great people and lots of land to explore. I'm a kayaker and a hiker and so I was excited to come. I decided to stay because I love it," Norsworthy said.

After she retires from Central Christian, West Virginia University Campus Minister D.D. Meighen, of Fairmont, will fill her place for the year, until a new pastor is hired. Meighen said he will have huge shoes to fill.

"I can't follow Robin Norsworthy. She was a priceless gem in and of herself. Her life experiences, her travels, her love for West Virginia — even though she is she came from outside the state — is remarkable. I am just honored to have the opportunity to share again, with the congregation of Central Christian Church," Meighen said.

Norsworthy worked with Meighen in 2018 to rally community support for re-establishing the Human Rights Commission by marching with proponents and has helped plan the best church yard sale in Fairmont, Meighen said.

Meighen is looking forward to being back at the church, where he worked in 1982. During his time there, they had a successful after school program and church league basketball, which he said he enjoys.

"The congregation is in good health and good spirits and I'm excited about serving and following in her footsteps," Meighen said.

Norsworthy said that for her last sermon, she talked a bit about leaving and the church planned a reception to follow. She speculated that the reception would be a lot of fun with a lot of laughing. She said that someone will definitely bring up a time during service where she had started to lead a prayer and everyone bowed their heads, but she never said the prayer.

"I will miss most being with congregants during their personal celebrations and griefs. They included me into their lives in weddings and funerals and we shared our life struggles," Norsworthy said.

In West Virginia, she has four grandchildren. They spend a lot of time together and have gone on Discover West Virginia vacation trips, which everyone loved, Norsworthy said.

Now that she is retired, she has time to pursue some of her favorite hobbies, which include hiking, gardening and kayaking. She started volunteering at Canaan Valley Wildlife Refuge where she takes visitors on interpretive walks. Guests can attend a scheduled walk where they will learn a bit about different aspects of the refuge. Norsworthy's wildlife topic is on beavers.

Norsworthy will continue to spend time with friends and family and pursue things that make her happy.

"I believe that God created all of us equal and created us wonderfully made. So, everyone ought to have a chance in life to, you know, enjoy it and to have what they need — to enjoy what our Constitution guarantees we have," Norsworthy said.

Reach me at sshriver@timeswv.com or 304-367-2549.