First Senior Pastor Destination is a Familiar One for Hunter GoodinBy BY MARK H. STOWERS FOR THE E-T,
Duck hunting first brought Hunter Goodin to Drew and the young hunter was hooked on the rich land that produces abundant crops for farmers and provides plenty of water for ducks. His father would later buy into a private duck hunting club that built on that foundational love.
After his time at Holmes Community College and Blue Mountain College, Goodin was once again called to the Delta. But this time it was a different kind of hunt. Jesus’ Great Commission put him on a path from the hills of north Mississippi back to the precious flat land he fell in love with at an early age.
“My dad has been duck hunting in the Delta for about 25 years and I went on my first duck hunt at two years old. I’ve been walking this flat land since I was knee high to a grasshopper,” Goodin explained. “My dad started Whistling Wings Duck Lodge about 16 years ago about a mile outside of Drew. I grew up running around Drew.”
It was his dad who ironically found his son his ideal “work spot.”
“He was out clearing beaver dams (on the duck hunting property) and this guy rides up on his Gator, Jimmy Reed, and started talking about church,” Goodin said. “He said ‘we’re looking for a pastor.’ And my dad said, ‘That’s kind of funny. My son is studying to be a pastor at Blue Mountain College.’ They called me and had me come down and I did a few ‘fill-in the pulpit’ sermons and then they called and wanted me to do a trial sermon. I did that and the next thing I knew I had the job. I truly do love it. It’s a blessing. It’s crazy how you can have your eyes set on one place and the Lord calls you to a place totally different.”
As the Senior Pastor at Drew’s First Baptist Church, Hunter, his wife, Jessica and month-old infant son have quickly acclimated.
“I’m originally from Mathiston. I loved my home but it’s a little bitty town in Webster County (20 miles from Starkville),” Pastor Goodin said.
While preaching in the Delta, Goodin is pursuing his master’s at New Orleans Theological Seminary. He first started his preaching career while at Holmes. He served as a Youth Pastor at Pocahontas Baptist Church outside of Clinton. Once he got to Blue Mountain, he served at Old Oak Grove Baptist Church as a youth pastor. This past February was his one-year anniversary of his first full-time charge as Pastor in Drew.
“I love it,” he said. “The Lord has really blessed us. When I first started here at Drew Baptist Church, we had about 30 in attendance. Now we run somewhere between 60-80. We’ve had roughly 30 or maybe a little more new additions and we’ve had 12 baptisms.”
His newness to the Senior Pastor position has its own challenges in just simply learning the position. But he credits several capable men who have nurtured him along the way.
“What I’ve had is a gentleman by the name of Dr. John Taylor, he now serves with the Mississippi Baptist Association. He’s probably one of the biggest mentors I’ve had. I was very blessed to serve under another wonderful pastor at Old Oak Grove, Brother Bobby Butler. He’s a wonderful one and then I had three wonderful Bible professors at Blue Mountain who were great. Dr. Ronald Meeks, Dr. Tim Mims and Dr. Douglas Bain who were fantastic and really helped me along the way. I literally got into the ministry five months after I got saved. We started from scratch. I was blessed the Lord put the right people in my life.”
In Drew, he’s found plenty of fellow believers to lean on to help him pastor his first church from scratch.
“I tell them all the time. There are several people in the church, if they go down, we’re all going down with them. They are such a blessing. Truitt Hobby is our secretary who is just a great, great guy. All of our deacons and that’s a wide variety of people who are real go getters, wanting to grow the church, wanting to expand. Our Youth Pastor and Worship Leader is Kathy McIntyre. She does a fantastic job - a sweet lady. And we have just so many people in the church who are outstanding people. This is the third church I’ve been on staff at and I volunteered at another church. Out of all of those churches, I’ve never seen, one, a church more welcoming and two, more willing to come together. We have a lot of people that we lean on.”
One example was the recent bad weather in April where harsh thunderstorms and deadly tornados rocked the Magnolia State. Goodin saw his neighbors and church family surround him before he knew it.
“We went to my camp to stay there and I got a phone call and the next thing I know I’ve got five church members cutting trees down in my back yard before I could get out there and do it myself,” he said. “It’s just a very loving atmosphere and I’ve enjoyed every step of the way.”
During the quarantine, Goodin has been preaching online and getting his Friday night Bible study online as well. He can’t wait to get back in the actual church building with his congregation. The young pastor has plenty of dreams yet to fulfill in Drew.
“Man, that’s a long list,” he said. “You want to do your part as far as just growing the kingdom. Not necessarily as pastors are called, but we as Christians in general, are called to do. My plans are to, one, grow the youth group. When we started out, we had no youth and now we run about 15-20 and we want to continue growing that. The second thing would be to dive more into our outreach program. We’ve had to put that on hold with the virus. It’s headed by our deacon, Barry Bryant. The whole goal is just to continue to grow, not necessarily just Drew Baptist Church, but the kingdom of God as a whole.”
Goodin and his wife are not just learning how to lead the church but are working to get a handle on parenting their first child.
“He’s (the baby) full of himself. I’ll tell you, the Lord said, ‘If you’re gonna dive in, you might as well dive in headfirst.’ (laughing) We’re getting after it.”
Outside of leading the church, Goodin and his wife are part of North Sunflower Academy.
“My wife teaches at NSA (K5) and I’m very blessed to help coach football,” he said. “It’s a wonderful staff at North Sunflower. It’s really gotten us involved with those kids there and there’s just so much ministry opportunity.”
Hunting ducks and telling folks about Jesus to build the kingdom, that’s Drew First Baptist Church Pastor Hunter Goodin.