News - When Faith Takes Office

When Faith Takes Office

Gaffner-2When semi-trucks access Greenville’s industrial park via the overpass off Route 40, Alan Gaffner ’76 sees more than an appealing draw for businesses that rely on trucking; he also sees a roadway fully funded by state and federal dollars. When he passes Greenville’s Federal Correctional Institution, he sees more than a penitentiary; he also sees jobs filled by Greenville residents.

Both projects resulted from the city council’s collaborative work and Gaffner’s personal calling to serve Greenville as a councilman and then mayor—nearly 30 years of public service.

While Gaffner enjoys solving problems, he understands why people avoid elected office. Scrutiny of office-holders’ opinions and choosing sides on emotionally charged issues invite tension.

“When you serve a community of 7,000 residents there are lots of diverse opinions,” he says. Still, he stays committed. “I’m a firm believer in the adage, ‘When good people do nothing, bad things happen.’”

Gaffner’s full-time professional role for more than 30 years with Greenville Regional Hospital allowed him to interface with state and federal government offices. He learned how careful navigation of set procedures brings great rewards. If Greenville had not pursued the penitentiary and overpass projects, other communities would have seized those opportunities.

Projects like these can take months and years to come to fruition, but Gaffner draws strength from Galatians 6:9 – “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” As mayor, he tries to let his faith lead the way.

Gaffner has noticed others doing the same.

“In recent years, I’ve been refreshed to hear elected officials talk about their faith,” he says. Still, an alarming counterforce in legislation at the state and federal levels continues to push against that very expression of faith.

He offers another adage: “When Christians do nothing, evil prevails.”

In Gaffner’s estimation, that counterforce should move Christians to engage in political processes. Much is at stake.


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This story was published on December 01, 2014

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