The Dart — Pastor: ‘I love to see things grow’

Published 2:00 pm Sunday, October 9, 2022

A man and his son worked to scoop up leaves and limbs from the parking lot at Central Baptist Church near Meadowbrook Drive close to where The Dart landed Thursday afternoon. Dressed in a t-shirt, blue jeans and baseball cap, Ryan Thurman took a moment to rest in the shade and sit on a curb.

He was born in New Orleans but moved to Brookhaven at the age of three. His family had roots in Brookhaven. Vacation Bible School is where he was born again when he made the decision to follow Jesus at the age of seven.

A Brookhaven Academy alumni, he went to Copiah-Lincoln Community College before going to William Carey University in Hattiesburg with his high school sweetheart Amanda Mitchell, now Thurman. She earned her degree in teaching and has taught school for the last 20 years.

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Ryan took a different path. He was led by the Lord to work in ministry and started out as a youth minister in 2003. He earned his masters at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and worked as a student minister at First Baptist Church McComb. Then in 2007, he was called to come back to Brookhaven and Central Baptist Church.

“I grew up in church and I was raised in a Christian home. I actually went to this church when it was still located on North Jackson Street at the time,” he said. “I felt the calling of the Lord at the age of 14 to minister. I followed him. I ran away at first but surrendered my freshman year at Co-Lin and I have pursued him from then on. I didn’t choose ministry, He chose me.”

His son Mitchell Ryan Thurman was helping him clean up around the Church Thursday and his daughter Ashlyn is 17. Both of his kids are enrolled in Brookhaven Schools. Each day his walk begins with being faithful and obedient to the Lord, his family as a Godly husband and father and to his flock.

His role with the church is to help equip the saints for ministry, Ephesians 4:11-12. God’s grace saved him and it is the same grace that allows him to be a pastor. People may not realize that pastoral duties extend behind the pulpit of the church on Sunday mornings.

Thurman said he is involved in the lives of the people at his church. This could be through meeting with them during the week over coffee. It is a job that has no specific hours and he is always looking for better ways to minister.

While schooling at seminary helps, a person does not have to have a degree in religion or theology to minister to others. He said God works in life to train and equip.

“A minister is fully prepared because they go. The best teacher is the Holy Spirit as you follow the direction of the Lord he will teach and train,” he said.

In his free time, he enjoys the outdoors and fishing. A garden at home is where he spends his time six months out of the year as he enjoys growing, cooking and eating vegetables.

“I like to see things grow. I think there is a connection in gardening and watching things grow and seeing people grow and how God grows us,” Ryan said. He is the master gardener. When we get to heaven as he calls us home, we will keep working but it will be a work of enjoyment and joy. The correlation of watching things grow and enjoying the fruits of it I am often reminded of how He grows us.”

While he loves gardening and the outdoors, people are the greatest creation having been made in God’s image, he said. Nature and gardens will not last but his relationship with God and his Christian family will last.

“The greatest investment as a man is in my family and this congregation. It will live on long past my years,” he said. “When God calls you to a church to serve you go there to stay and you plant roots and develop relationships. I’ve been here for 15 years and He hasn’t led me to pursue another field. We have seen ups and downs as a church and relocated to this campus 12 years ago. We have seen victories and he has provided for us every step of the way. This is a wonderful congregation. He has blessed us. I’m blessed to be the pastor here.”