By Bob Allen
An Alabama pastor who chaired a blue-ribbon task force charged with retooling the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship for the 21st century is retiring from the pulpit to become a minister’s spouse.
David Hull announced in an email April 27 that he will step down Aug. 10 after 12 years as pastor of First Baptist Church in Huntsville, Ala. Hull took a break from preaching this weekend to join his wife, Jane, for her election as pastor of Union Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Watkinsville, Ga.
“The distance between the two churches is too great for me to continue my service as your pastor,” Hull explained. “Instead, I look forward to Jane being my pastor as we live together in Watkinsville.”
Hull, 58, was named in 2010 to lead a group known as the 2012 Task Force charged with charting a new course for the CBF, which had plateaued in recent years.
The group held about 100 listening sessions with state and regional CBF organizations, ministry partners, past and present leaders, young adults and current and former staff about ways to promote collaboration instead of competition for resources, streamline organizational structures and help Baptist churches and individuals embrace their identity as partners.
The plan, approved in 2012, is in a second year of implementation guided by a new executive coordinator, Suzii Paynter, who last year succeeded Daniel Vestal, who retired after 15 years.
Hull grew up in the shadow of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., where his father, William Hull, was a professor and administrator. Bill Hull, who later went on to teach at Samford University, died from Lou Gehrig’s disease last December.
Jane Hull, whose daughter, Emily Hull McGee, is minister to young adults at Highland Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., experienced her own call as pastor seven years ago. A graduate of Furman University with a master’s in church music from Southern Seminary, she began study for the M.Div. degree at Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology.
She recently served as interim pastor at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Birmingham, Ala. Previously she served as a minister of children, youth and music in churches in North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama, and currently is interim children’s minister at First Baptist, Huntsville. Her ministry at Union Christian Church begins June 1.
David Hull originally wanted to be a lawyer but felt called to ministry during his senior year at Vanderbilt University. He earned the master of divinity, master of theology and doctor of ministry degrees from Southern Seminary.
He served two years as youth minister at his home church, Crescent Hill Baptist Church in Louisville, before serving as pastor at Burks Branch Baptist Church in Shelbyville, Ky.; Candlewyck Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C.; First Baptist Church in Laurens, S.C.; and First Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tenn. After nine years in Knoxville the Hulls moved to Huntsville in October 2002.
Hull said the next chapter of his ministry will focus on ministry through writing, teaching, consulting and interim preaching.
“Jane and I both have a strong sense that now is the right time for such a move in our lives,” he said. “Three years ago, upon her graduation from seminary, would not have been the right time for me to leave Huntsville — both personally and pastorally. While my work is never done here in this great church, I do sense that now is a good time to bring closure to our 12 years of ministry in First Baptist Church and to embark on a new adventure of trust and faith.”