Dave and Debbie Garlich moved to Hubbard in January 2003. Because much of the Hubbard population is devoted to Catholicism, it was difficult for the Garlichs to find their place in the community. They were outsiders, he says; their children did not graduate from Hubbard schools, and they had no generational roots there. So he asked fellow pastors to pray for Hubbard, for his influence on it, and that the gospel would bring light into this city that he calls deeply religious, but lost.
Being awarded Citizen of the Year is the result of those prayers, Garlich says. “It is an open door. We don’t know how long the Lord will keep it open, but we are grateful, and for some, it has made an eternal difference.”
His influence in Hubbard began several years ago, when he wrote his city’s mayor “to warn him that God would hold him accountable for how he governed the city, because all ruling authority is God ordained for the good of the citizens,” and “advising that I as a Christian would be held accountable by God for my citizenship.” After stating these two reasons, he asked how he could help Hubbard’s government fulfill its responsibility of governing well. The mayor “is not a Christian (yet) but was intrigued by my letter.”
That letter began a series of meetings with city and police administrations—and Dave Garlich’s community service opportunities. In receiving the Citizen of the Year Award, Garlich was thanked for making a difference in so many lives in his community.
He is vice president of Hubbard Christians in Action, a group of pastors and laypeople who are devoted to meeting people’s physical, social, and spiritual needs. He is a founding member of Hubbard’s Salvation Army. And he formed Hubbard’s City Transformation Team, creating the byline “Transforming our city, one life at a time.”
The City Transformation Team came into existence when the police chief expressed concern that in his many years as a beat cop, he had to remove children from homes because of their parents’ drug problems or domestic situations. Now those children are adults, and patrol officers are responding to similar situations in their homes. The chief hopes that a chaplain—and God—can break the cycle of generational problems plaguing Hubbard.
Garlich is also a chaplain for the Hubbard Police Department, which allows him “to walk with someone who is trapped by a pattern of poor choices” and to talk with them about freedom in Christ. He is also a chaplain for the city’s administrators, with gives him “an open door and frequent requests to pray with and for them.”
Garlich also took the lead in promoting the National Police Memorial Week in Hubbard, initiating the donation of funds for a Stone of Memorial in front of the police station that recognizes the service of past, present, and future officers. “The community came together, and we were able to raise twice what was needed for the $5K project. The $5,000 surplus was divided among our two local food banks.”
Calvary Baptist Church as a whole is on board with its pastor’s community ministry and is taking part as well: the congregation has purposely created a closer connection with its city by honoring law enforcement and community personnel during special events and publicly praying for its community and leaders.
“God’s truth,” Garlich says, “is life-changing when it is worn in shoe leather.”