Folks at First – Richard Hovey

An interview with Pastor Richard Hovey by Esther Wiens

As a way of welcoming you to our church, we would like to ask you some questions that would help us know you and your family.

Let’s start with you: tell us something about your background and early years.

My father was in the RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force), so in my early years we moved quite a bit. I was actually born in Leidschendam, Holland but only lived there for the first couple of years before my family moved back to Canada. While I was growing up, we did not attend church regularly, but at the age of 10 (in Grade 5) I received a Gideon New Testament in school; this was the beginning of my faith journey. I began to read it and learned about Jesus who walked on water, fed 5000, cared for people in need, and spent time with God in prayer.

I was in need myself: the previous summer, my father passed away suddenly with a heart attack. As I continued to read the Testament, I began to pray—as Jesus would often pray. I talked to Jesus about my pain and what I was going through. In my scripture reading and prayers I felt the caring invitation of Jesus to come to him, and so I did. I gave my heart to our Lord in 1987, two years after receiving the Gideon New Testament.

One of the first things I did was tell my mom that I wanted to start going to church. I am not fully sure where this came from, as I really had no means of understanding what it meant to go to church. My mom and I started going to Lewisville Baptist Church in Moncton, NB. It was here that I was first mentored and discipled, initially by the youth pastor, John Dunnett. He met with me one-on-one on different occasions to go over some basics of the Christian faith and eventually led me to baptism in my teen years. I continued to be nurtured and to grow in Lewisville until my early twenties.

What a beautiful story! There is much for us to learn from it. Richard, we want you to know that we warmly welcome not only you but also your family. I know you and your wife have three daughters. Tell us about your wife and the girls.

Julie and I got married in 1996 and have three beautiful daughters. Our eldest, Maria, has just finished her second year at Crandall University in Moncton, NB. She loves literature and appreciates history, so is majoring in History and English. Our second daughter, Jennifer, is finishing grade 11 at Briercrest Christian Academy. She has a very creative spirit and a reflective presence. Andrea (taking after her mom) is the most social.

My wife has worked with children during the whole time we have been together: both in church and at work. For a number of years she ran a daycare and has been involved in leading the children’s ministry in the churches we have pastored. She is currently attending Briercrest Seminary.

I think your wife and daughters may find it a challenge to leave their friends in your former church and come to worship in a place with people who are strangers to them. What could we do to help them feel comfortable and at home here?

I think the best thing would simply be to take an intentional moment to speak with them. It is an amazing thing what a simple, even brief, conversation can accomplish – and what it can lead to.

Tell us something about your call to ministry.

I believe I sensed a call to ministry in my high school years but was hesitant to embrace it. Following high school, I went to Loyalist College to pursue studies in police science with a desire to enter some form of police work or the field of criminology. It was at Loyalist that the call to ministry was confirmed in my life – the Lord challenged my heart so that I felt the best way for me to serve the broken ones all around me was in vocational ministry. While I was discipled at Lewisville through my teen years and into my early twenties, I think a door to a church vocation was being opened. I found I had a deep care for people and a desire to see them connect with God and grow in their faith. Then, at Loyalist, the call was confirmed through a movement of God in my heart. When I saw so many young people living without any significant greater purpose, many broken or sad, my heart was broken by their plight. Just as Jesus was moved by compassion for individuals or for crowds of people, I was moved by compassion and felt led by God’s Spirit to give my life as a shepherd to those in such need.

When I read about your education for ministry, it seems a journey in itself. Please tell us about it. Why did you make the choices you did?

Yes, education has been a large part of my journey over the years. As I have mentioned, I began my post-secondary education at Loyalist College but shortly after arriving there felt the call to vocational ministry. So I withdrew from Loyalist and begin studies at Atlantic Baptist College (now Crandall University). I have always had an interest in the social sciences, so I majored in Sociology at Atlantic Baptist University and earned a BA. Following this I pursued further education for ministry at Briercrest Seminary, while June, pastoring: I wanted to increase my skills and abilities in pastoral ministry. At Briercrest I completed an MA in Pastoral Counseling and an MA in Theology. I was also introduced to the writing of Richard Foster (author of the Celebration of Discipline and one of the founders of Renovare). He opened me up to the field of Christian spiritual formation, which became a passion of mine and led to further studies in that field. In 2018 I graduated from George Fox University with a D. Min in Leadership and Spiritual Formation.

What brought you from Atlantic Canada to Saskatchewan?

I admit I never planned to live in Saskatchewan. Our move west began with a desire for involvement in outreach: a place where I could connect with people outside the walls of a church. Accordingly, I became director of a Youth for Christ drop-in centre. From here we were led to church ministry in a Church of God in Hudson Bay, SK. and then to an Associated Gospel Church in Moose Jaw. In a sense we feel we have now come full circle denominationally by returning to a Baptist Church.

What about our call to you to come to First Baptist was central/important to your decision to come here?

I sensed my leadership role at my previous church was in a time of transition and knew something new was on the horizon. My plan was to continue ministry in the Moose Jaw area, but not as lead pastor as I had been. During this time, I began conversation with Pastor Joel about the ministry at First Baptist – a conversation which went back and forth for some time. Through these conversations, I came to realize that ministry at First Baptist might be a good fit for me, specifically in the areas of spiritual formation and outreach/church growth. I had come to a place in my ministry where I was no longer feeling the need or desire to provide overall oversight to a church, but was rather wanting to focus on some key roles. First Baptist fit what I was looking for.

When you think ahead to the coming year and the years to follow, what do you most wish for? How do you see your ministry unfolding here?

Let me answer this generally first, then I will seek to apply it more specifically to First Baptist. The things I desire and long for are the following: to discover and learn the riches that are mine in Christ Jesus alone, to more fully comprehend and apply His love to my heart and henceforth to my life. In this space of learning, my hope and desire at First Baptist is to initially engage with the people here both with where I am and where they are with the Lord. Then to mutually discern how it is that we can lead one another to greater depths of God’s love in community. An unfolding piece of this, for me, is to discover how we can carry this out into the community – both the community surrounding the church building and the many communities represented by the parts of the city where the people of First Baptist live.

How can we as a congregation be most helpful to you?

I think a couple of simple thoughts here can go a long way in being helpful. First, see me as a part of the community as opposed to strictly pastoral staff and care for me as I endeavor to care for you. Secondly, communicate with me those things which would be helpful for me to know and understand as we journey together.

Is there anything that you would like to say that I haven’t asked?

I don’t believe so. I am excited about this new journey the Lord has opened up to us and look forward to seeing where and how He leads.

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