It wasn't long after moving from Ninety Six to Indian Land that Gayle Summey, the new pastor at Belair United Methodist Church, decided she needed to buy a global positioning system for her car.
Moving to the growing Panhandle from Cambridge United Methodist Church in Ninety-Six has been a big change, she said.
"I've never seen growth like this," Summey said. "The real challenge is learning my way around."
Summey moved into the parsonage on Shelley Mullis Road four weeks ago. Already, she has seen how growth will affect both her church and the parsonage she calls home.The properties beside the parsonage and across the street are expected to become retail developments.
Former pastor Tony Adams was appointed to a new church in Aynor. Summey was appointed to lead Belair by the United Methodist Church's bishop and cabinet. She is appointed for one year but, she said, the bishop will frequently let pastors stay in one location for several years before assigning them to a new church.
"They match the gifts of the pastor to the congregation," Summey said.
Summey, a graduate from Erskine Theological Seminary, is married and has four grown children.
Summey's former church was similar in size to Belair, she said, but Belair has a more active congregation with more programs than her previous church had.
As more people move into the panhandle, Summey hopes the programs at Belair will attract them to the church.
"All these people will need a church home, so I think it has unlimited potential and I'm looking forward to tapping into that," Summey said.
Summey's first order of business, after unpacking and organizing at the parsonage, is to get to know the congregation and the community. She has a history of volunteering in public schools and plans to continue that tradition here, she said.
"I'm so excited because I think the potential is here," Summey said.