A Tribute to Pastor Herb Hull
Before we wandered into Bloomington First Assembly July 1978, Russ knew him as “the preacher who told corny jokes.” Pastor Herb regularly brought church ads to the local newspaper,where Russ was a photographer.
When we attended the church the first time Pastor Herb and Norma were on vacation. Our next visit Russ and Pastor Herb saw each other in the church basement before service and both said to each other, at the same time, “What are you doing here.” Oh I see that giant smile with his head tipped back as I remember this meeting in the hall.
He had known Russ as the shaggy hippie photographer at the newspaper. Before this encounter, Russ had come home and told me on occasion, “If I ever get the urge to go to church, I’d like to look up that pastor that tells the corny jokes.”
Our first Sunday night in that church, we dropped to our knees at the altar. God placed a godly man and his wife in our lives at a time when our marriage had all but dissolved. Hung-over and addicted, still extremely rough around the edges, we were accepted as family with no condemnation.
HE MENTORED US AND LOVED US LIKE FAMILY
Unconditional love was demonstrated continually. Conviction tugged on us as we were embraced by the sincere teachings, 3 point sermons with illustrations that make you shake your head, roll your eyes, nod or laugh out loud.
With Pastor Herb Hull at the helm, Sunday nights were packed with worship, ministry and altar time, but the after church event, back at the Hull household, was ice cream and a ballgame on T.V. Don, David and Dale adopted our two sons, Jim and Ken as if they were younger brothers. Off they went to the basement or outside to the basketball goal, while we sat at the kitchen table and soaked up every possible nugget of wisdom from Pastor Herb and Norma, all wrapped around a snack and a lot of jokes.
I believe Russ stopped by the church almost daily after our salvation, offering to help around the church and gleaning from Pastor’s wisdom by asking questions about the scriptures. Pastor Herb trusted him as usher, encouraged him to help with the nursing home Sunday school class, let him assist with the youth, and had him play his guitar and sing from the platform on the night of praise.
We lived about 14 miles from the church, out in the country. Our first winter, about 4 months after we came to the church, we had a very bad snow. We arrived at church on time, but no one was there. The church had been cancelled. There was a lot of teasing over this. Pastor said he’d never cancel again.
Pastor loved “dinners of 8.” We had the distinct honor of having Pastor and Norma in our group in our new home. He never stopped talking about the egg rolls I made, I don’t really think they were that good, but he was impressed.
I remember most Sunday evenings ending with “Victory in Jesus.” I smile anytime I think of that sweet smile on my Pastor’s face, as he was belting out each word, with a confidence that captured believer’s hearts and convinced sinners. “And somehow Jesus came and brought to me the Victory.”
14 months later, when they announced from the pulpit that they were taking a church in Oklahoma, I cannot remember ever crying that hard in a public place. I’ll admit, I got selfish and angry.
I made an appointment with Norma for one day that next week, with full intention of convincing her and Pastor Herb to stay. She had me come over to the house. When I arrived she led me straight upstairs where she was in the middle of packing boxes in one of the boy’s bedrooms. She got down on her hands and knees crawling around the bed, feeling under it for a shoe, missing from a pair, and gave me a living illustration of life in a pastor’s home.
Then she sat on the bed and looked at me and said something like, “We love these people here and they love us, but Pastor Herb knows he’s supposed to go to this new church, and I made a commitment a long time ago that I would go where he is called, he doesn’t need a wife that holds back and gives him grief.”
Enough said. Norma isn’t quick to hug and show emotion, so when we got a little weepy together that day, and I got a hug from her, I knew the move was inevitable and knew what I had to do.
I purposely used Norma and Pastor Herb as my example, made a new commitment to follow Russ’s calling where ever that would lead. We sold our house and left 2 months later for Bible College stepping into our first ministry 18 months after meeting Pastor Herb and Norma. They led us to Jesus, taught us the love of the Father, and demonstrated a Spirit filled life. They have been friends and mentors 33 years.
EVERY DECISION AND MILESTONE FILTERED THROUGH HERB
Through the years, every milestone, and every ministry decision has been made with their council, recommendations and full support. Pastor Herb is closer than a brother.
He considered His faith serious business, but walked it out demonstrating his belief that life was meant to be fun. He loved to tell stories to make a point. He was a joy in the pulpit and on a personal level. We knew we had an open invitation at the Hull-i-day Inn and stopping through has always been a highlight of our trip.
This tribute wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the pain he endured through the years. None of us know why he suffered so, but I’m certain he found a way to make peace with His Lord and his suffering. Pastor Herb was like that.
Pastor Herb, we love you and hope you know that without you, your sweet family, and your godly example, we truly don’t want to imagine where our family could be today.
Norma, we love you and your sweet family and hope to be support and encouragement in your time of loss and readjustment with out this wonderful man in you daily life. You have our prayers.