With his affinity for pre-teens and love of the small suburban city lifestyle, the Rev. Tony Townley is easing into his new church and community life in Pacific.

The Rev. Townley became pastor of Pacific United Methodist Church in June after serving in UMC churches in Dixon/Newburg, Festus and Shelbina/Hunnewell.

Although he flourished in Shelbina with a unique tutoring program for fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders, he missed the hustle and bustle of a small city.

When the State UMC Council asked for year-end analysis of clergy life, he asked for an assignment closer to a metropolitan area.

Being a minister is a second career for Townley, who served 20 years in emergency medical services before becoming a pastor. He graduated from Columbia College in 1992, completed courses for ministry at St Paul’s School of Theology in Kansas City in 1999 and was ordained as an associate member in the United Methodist Church in 2000.

The pastor believes that serving in emergency services gives him a unique perspective in recognizing suffering and connecting with those in pain in a way to help bring comfort.

Comfort is a key word in his relationship with his flock. The pastor believes that every individual has the right to be happy and can be happy with the right understanding of his or her relationship with God.

He has a favorite message that works its way into sermons several times a year. The topic, he said, is grace, but the focus is on forgiveness.

“Many people know that God forgives them when they ask for forgiveness,” the Rev. Townley said. “But sometimes they forget to forgive themselves and continue to carry around that guilt.

“We talk about that in a variety of ways,” he said. “To be truly happy we need to get rid of that guilt. To do that calls for self-forgiveness.”

The pastor and his wife Nola just celebrated their 37th wedding anniversary.

Nola Townley also is easing into life in the Pacific community. A retired state of Missouri employee, she enjoys quilting and chasing after grandkids. Townley describes himself as a person who is always looking for his next project. As a hobby he refinishes and refurbishes old furniture. He also enjoys fishing and reading a good history novel.

The Townleys have two grown sons, Tony Jr. and his wife Amy, who live in Holt Summit with their four children, Madison, Gavin, Ava and Giulio, and Christopher and his wife Ivy live in Imperial with their daughter, Charlotte.