MARILLA, N.Y.—First Baptist Church installed Mark Hurlbut as pastor on June 14. For the past 13 years, Hurlbut (MMin, Summit University) has been associate pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Batavia, New York, and thought he would spend the rest of his life there. “Sometimes in life God changes things up a bit for you,” he says.
Grace Baptist was the only church he and his wife, Doris, had attended since coming to Christ in 1991, he shares on his Everyday Faith blog. But “when God calls,” he says, “it is best to obey.”
He preached a farewell sermon at Grace Baptist on May 24 and began transitioning into his new ministry on June 1. Hurlbut, a father of six, preached his first sermon at his new church on Father’s Day.
“This is all so humbling,” he says of his new role. “At times I feel overwhelmed and yet at the same time full of excitement at what God would have for the future here.”
Two men spoke during the installation service, in addition to Hurlbut himself, who briefly shared some thoughts from Ephesians 4. Don Shirk, pastor of Grace Baptist, challenged First Baptist Church to make full use of the opportunity God has given them. Speaking on the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25, he said, “It’s all about the importance of seizing opportunity. It’s all about the opportunity that is before us in the here and now and maximizing the moment.”
Jim Vogel, state representative of the Northeast Fellowship, challenged Hurlbut to fulfill his ministry, referring to 2 Timothy 4. Speaking directly to Hurlbut, he said God has called him to be a leader and feeder of the flock who loves and cares for his sheep.
Hurlbut says, “I’m not sure what I did to deserve this privilege of this new role. And I know the answer is nothing; it is all of God, but still I feel the weight of ‘To whom much has been given much is required.’”