OK, so that is a paraphrase of the old Three Dog Night song and I have to agree that the Gomer part doesn’t work. But I have been to Gomer.
Recently my wife, the lovely and true to her calling, Dawn, and I made a short visit to the town of Gomer, Ohio. We had to drive there (260 miles) because the Gomer International Airport was fogged in.
For those unacquainted with the map of Ohio, Gomer is about an hour’s drive north of Dayton and about 15 miles from Lima, Ohio. Lima in Ohio is Lima as in the Bean and not Lima as in Peru. Of course, Peru is in Indiana and is pronounced “Pee-roo” and not Peru as in South America. Got it? This will be on the test.
We went to Gomer with a purpose. One does not accidentally go to Gomer. You could accidentally go to Lima, but not to Gomer. We spent Saturday in Lima and, with the help of Gidget the GPS Gadget, we found Gomer.
On Sunday morning we were guests of the fine folks at the Gomer Congregational Church where Dawn was representing the National Association of Congregational Churches as the Gomer church was installing a new Pastor.
I have always found it odd that new Pastors were “installed” rather than just hired. I think it makes them sound like they are a new Heating and Air Conditioning System.
“We installed the new Pastor – who will serve as both a Spiritual Guide and a Heat Pump.”
See what I mean?
While there I learned several things about Gomer.
- It is in the middle of the beautiful Ohio farm country with scenery that could make any wall calendar a big seller.
- Gomer was settled by immigrants from Wales and was, for quite some time, the nexus of Welsh culture in America.
I learn something new every day – or at least I try to. As of this morning I am still working on catching up. The Gomer things covered April 27, 1972. I am determined to get caught up before I check out.
It has been a while since there were any Welsh speakers in the Gomer congregation, but in their hymnal the lyrics are printed in both English and Welsh. Seeing Welsh in print, to me anyway, looks like the cat walked across the keyboard and hit “Print” on the way off. I was glad when everything was done in English – a language with which I have a passing acquaintance.
One of the best things about visiting congregations around the Midwest is that the services are usually followed by a meal of Church Lady Food.
There ain’t nothin’ better than Church Lady Food. I don’t care what the denomination involved is, because when the Church Ladies get cooking you know that you are in for a treat.
I think that I will not have to eat again until Groundhog Day.
Whenever you go someplace new it can be an adventure if you let it. In our trip to Gomer we were greeted warmly by everyone, made to feel part of the community, and then well fed. I didn’t sense one atom of the suspicion, uneasiness, or cynicism that can be felt in cities and even larger towns.
Even though Gomer is now little more than a wide spot on the country road it is a thriving community of good people who made us feel welcome.
I wonder if we would find the same thing if we were ever to visit “Aunt Bea Oklahoma,” or “Barney Fife, Utah?”
It’s just a thought.