Prays Together: Living Ron Hull’s Legacy

By Daniel Kunkel

As an eleven-year-old, I loved precisely four things: Dr. Pepper, jalapeño and cheese corn dogs, my mom and the Church of Christ. The Church of Christ is a denomination that is many things, most notably known for their belief in worship without musical instruments. The Church of Christ that I attended was mostly occupied by couples in their sixties, seventies, eighties, and yes, even nineties. The church was literally attached to a retirement home. On Sundays the church was never full, the worship was hymns from a songbook, and the preaching came with a heavy dose of melatonin, and yet, I loved it.

I was invited to the church through the youth group. The youth group stood in contrast to the larger church. They were young, loud, energetic and eventful (I love my youth pastors, Tanner Boley and Jon Cotta, who were blessed with a spirit of patience, trust me, I tested it). The lead pastor of the church was Ron Hull, he was quiet and respectful. When I first met Ron, I treated him like I treated every other adult in my life, by avoiding him at all cost. Yet, Ron would always initiate a conversation with me. Mind you, I was a loud and obnoxious eleven-year-old who went to church without his parents. I added no tangible value to the church, yet he still took an interest in me and he pastored me, that’s who Ron was.

As I attended the youth group consistently my youth pastor, Jon, began encouraging me to give youth messages and to lead events. All of which I felt comfortable with, but then both Jon and Ron promoted me to the main sanctuary. They would invite me to give the main service announcements as well as the communion message. As I got older my opportunities increased, from speaking at a board meeting or even preaching (I am confident that those sermons tested the Lord’s grace). Ron was always quick to give me feedback as well as provide support. In one of my sermons, I misquoted how many different “loves” there are in the Bible. This prompted him to come up to me after service and inform me. He corrected me in a way that made me feel safe to mess up in the future, which was a desperate need both then and now.

After my time at the Church of Christ, I pursued ministry as my calling. I have always felt like God gave me a spirit of confidence in ministry. I am often eager to lead, speak, and counsel people to Jesus, not timid or doubtful. I am prayerful that my confidence never turns to a form of narcissism, but continues to be a true belief in what God has called me to do with my life, minister the Gospel. I have this confidence and belief because when I was 11 years old, God gave me a tiny Church of Christ that took me in and gave me dignity. The church didn’t demean the youth, they valued us and saw us as the church. They communicated through their actions that what I had to say mattered to them, they truly believed in me. This church was not cool or hip but they were seasoned and faithful, and they modeled themselves after their pastor.

Ron and his church saw in me what I could not see in myself. My pastor, Ron, passed away last month and entered into glory. I have now spent the past week reflecting on his legacy and impact in my life. I am grateful that he was never interested in his influence or spreading his name. Rather he was interested in being a pastor to his small church and his family. He was even interested in the things that were uninteresting, things like me, and I thank God that he was.

Thank you God for the ministry of Ron Hull, a ministry of faithfulness.

Daniel Kunkel, a 2014 EUHS graduate, is a missionary on college campuses in the Bay Area, and host of the Everything in Between podcast. Visit his web site at danieljkunkel.com.

Prays Together is a rotating column between the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church.

– This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.

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