At the time when most snowbirds are returning to Ohio a New Knoxville couple is packing up and getting ready to head to the Sunshine State.
After serving as minister for the last 13 years at the New Knoxville United Church of Christ, Rev. David Hunt and his wife, Jean, have decided it’s time to retire.
The first Sunday in April will be his last service at the church. But in no way are the Hunt’s giving up the ministry. The couple’s first stop is Arcadia, Fla. where they will volunteer their time working with the Mennonites to help rebuild homes lost and damaged in last summer’s hurricanes. It’s a project near and dear to Rev. Hunt’s heart.
“I like mission work and rural ministry. I’m a hands on kind of minister. I’m a lousy evangelist and I know it. But I’ve always had so much fun working with people who help others with disaster relief. The Mennonites are one of the most highly respected organizations and I’m excited about helping,” he said, during a recent interview.
Hunt who was raised Presbyterian, said, “My dad was a missionary in Korea and all over. Being a minister’s kid, I did the usual things minister’s kids did. At first, I wanted to be a doctor but I was to lazy to major in premed so I majored in philosophy and then went to seminary because I was too lazy to work.”
After college he started seminary but quit about two thirds of the way through. “I was not a Christian then I joined the Navy to get away from God and the Lord found a way to get me back,” he said.
After a 4 1/2 year stint in the U.S. Navy Hunt worked odd jobs and for the Internal Revenue Service as a tax auditor before returning to seminary.
After a failed attempt at starting a church in Denver, Colo. Hunt said he realized he was not a good evangelist but learned he was good at pastoring. While attending seminary for the second time, Hunt said he needed a little money and started pastoring at a United Church of Christ Church in the hills of Wisconsin. “I finally decided to do rural ministry because I wasn’t doing so well at city ministry.”
Three years later Hunt completed his seminary studies and was ordained. Before coming to New Knoxville he spent 16 years at a church in Browntown, Wisc. “It was much smaller than New Knoxville. I loved the people but felt like I was getting boring to them and it was time for somebody else to minister to them.”
The minister said that New Knoxville was a good fit for him. “I’m a hands on minister and New Knoxville is a town where people like to be hands on and they responded well.”
During his tenure, Rev. Hunt and the people of his church took many mission trips to help folks whose homes were damaged and destroyed because of floods and hurricanes.
“We helped people with the Mississippi flood, Hurricane Andrew and the Ohio River flood,” Hunt said, noting that one year they traveled to southern Ohio almost every weekend for a year.
Hunt said ministering to the youth of New Knoxville has also been rewarding. “The most exciting thing in my career has been working with the youth and the parents. The last six years, we have been blessed. There have been groups of men and women praying for our youth. We have a wonderful youth minister. Almost half the kids in our high school are now involved in Bible studies and prayer meetings. The lord has really blessed this town.”
He attributes the success of the youth programs to the work of the lord and people praying. “The last five years a minister, I have been involved in the most exciting part of my career. That is not a gift everybody receives. I’m ending on a high note.”
His ministry is not limited to the New Knoxville church. Among other things he leads a Bible study at the St. Marys Living Center and volunteers on a regular basis at a soup kitchen in Lima.
Hunt and his wife have three children and three grandchildren. After volunteering in Florida they will climb back into their motor home and visit their children in North Dakota, Colorado and Wisconsin. Hunt said he is not sure where they will settle but noted that someday he would like to build his own house. “I’ve been involved in so many Habitat for Humanity projects, I’d like to try to build my own place.”
The minister said, “I’ll really miss this town and the people. I still miss the people in Browntown. But I’ve said everything that can be said here. It’s time for them to listen to somebody else. I’ve really enjoyed being here but I’m excited about my next venture. I’m not sure what all I’ll do but I’m excited about where I’m going and the Lord will show me the way.”
When asked if he had a message to leave with his parishioners in New Knoxville, Hunt said, “The Bible is a good book. Read it often so you are encouraged.”