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Area church welcomes new pastor with service: St. Mark M.B. Church schedules installation service

“I have a calling from the Lord to preach the gospel,” Lauria “Ray” McDuffey said.

On Nov. 22 at 5 p.m., St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church will have an installation ceremony to officially welcome McDuffey, from New Hebron, as its new pastor.

Latoria and Lauria “Ray” McDuffey

Latoria and Lauria “Ray” McDuffey

“My vision is to see lives changed by sound delivery of God’s message,” McDuffey said. “I know that teaching and preaching the Christian Gospel will change lives. My aim is to motivate and encourage believers of Christ Jesus to strive to reach full potential in faith and service to the Lord. I am also praying fervently that we will effectively turn the lost to Christ. Ultimately, my hopes are to help spread the message that ‘Sin pays off with death. But God’s gift is eternal life given by Jesus Christ our Lord’ (Romans 6:23). That was true in times past, and you can rest assured that it is still true today.”

McDuffey said his approach to ministry is to be totally committed to following Jesus.

“Mark 8:34 says, ‘Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me,’ and that’s Jesus talking to his disciples,” McDuffey said.

McDuffey has been in the ministry for eight years. Before becoming pastor at St. Mark, he was associate minster at North Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church in New Hebron. He’s also a National Guard veteran who was sent to Afghanistan in 2011.

Currently, he’s in seminary working on a master’s in Christian ministry, but he said the journey to pastor is different for everyone.

“There really aren’t any certain criteria, except you have a calling and that you are licensed, ordained, and called by a church,” McDuffey said. “The process can take as few as a few months, and it can take years. For me, I’ve had a lot of preparation, and a lot of experience prior to getting to St. Mark.”

St. Mark Missionary Church is located at 627 E Monticello St. in Brookhaven. Sunday school starts at 9:30 a.m., and services start at 11 a.m. McDuffey said he hopes that he and the church can grow together.

“Anybody who is interested in fellowshipping and worshiping with us, or stopping by to check us out, I want them to feel free to come by. We are a church with an open heart and an open door. We want to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, which is what Jesus commands us to do. We pray that anybody that feels a desire to stop by, we want them to just stop on by.”

McDuffey has been married to his wife Latoria for nine years. They have four children.