Born and raised in Springdale, Arkansas, Mark Kimbrough has now found a home in Texas at the First United Methodist Church (FUMC) of Katy as their associate pastor. Mark never imagined a life outside of Arkansas but God had a greater plan for his life.
Mark grew up in the church and while in high school began to feel God tugging on his heart to pursue a career in ministry. Most of his family had careers in dentistry, so the notion of a career in ministry was something very unfamiliar for Mark.
“I wrestled with it quite a bit,” Mark said. “My first semester of college is when I really knew God was calling me into ministry and it was time for me to go in that direction.”
Mark began working as a youth intern at his own local church while finishing his bachelor’s degree at the University of Arkansas. He then became the youth director for the church, but began to feel God pushing him again towards something even greater.
“It was like He was saying, ‘you have taken a step and that’s great but there’s certainly bigger things for you to keep doing,’” Mark said. “I knew that next thing would automatically mean leaving home and if I did that I didn’t know if I would ever come back. I grew up my whole life in Arkansas and loved it. I didn’t really ever want to move away.”
Leaving home was something Mark wrestled with, but he continued to follow God’s call for his life. Mark and his wife, Hannah, moved to Atlanta, Georgia where he enrolled in seminary at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. While earning his Master of Divinity, Mark also worked at North Point Ministries Decatur City Church.
“I enjoyed my work and loved my time in Atlanta,” Mark said. “As I began to wrap up my degree, my wife and I began thinking about what the next thing would be and it was actually a weird combination of a couple of things that led us to what was next.”
The Kimbrough’s had no plans to ever move to Texas. Ironically, some of the friends they made while in Atlanta had a lot of connections to Texas ministries. Already a licensed mental health therapist, Hannah was looking to go back to school to get her Ph.D. in social work. She applied to numerous schools in various states but the one they decided upon was the University of Houston – in Texas.
“Once we decided we were moving to Houston, again all of those connections starting popping up,” Mark said. “It was through them that I ended up landing at FUMC Katy.”
FUMC Katy Senior Pastor Dr. Richard White called on Mark to join him at FUMC Katy and to help with a particular new ministry. While in seminary, Mark had been particularly interested in the church planting and new ministry portions of his studies. Pastor White’s call to join him to help with a new ministry really excited Mark and the Kimbrough’s were headed to Texas.
Since 2015, Mark has helped start a number of new ministries at FUMC Katy including community groups and most recently a new worship service called Confluence. At FUMC Katy, Mark primarily oversees family ministries and focuses on adult discipleship. Besides planning events for families, youth and children to fellowship and connect, Mark uses his passion for new ministry to help FUMC Katy grow into the future.
The community groups, Mark shared, were created for young adults who didn’t connect in the traditional Sunday school world to find fellowship and community. The new worship service Confluence has been one of the biggest and longest on-going projects at FUMC Katy for Mark.
The worship service was the new ministry Pastor White originally mentioned when he called Mark to join him at FUMC Katy. Over the past two years, Mark has worked beside members of the congregation to see this new ministry come fruition.
With so many young adults moving to Katy, FUMC Katy wanted to create another worship service that was different from their traditional services for the younger demographic.
After two years of research and planning, FUMC Katy held their first preview service in November followed by another in December and January. Starting on January 21 the Confluence service will now be a weekly service at 11 a.m. alongside FUMC Katy’s two traditional services at 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.
“We feel like there is a long incredible stream of what God has been doing here with our traditional services,” Mark said. “We feel like there is another thing God is bringing in with this new service that is only going to make us stronger and healthier.”
The notion of new ministry has been a passion for Mark that started at a young age. Mark’s own youth director always thought about church and faith in a new ministry way. Consequently, it shaped Mark’s faith and own ministry today.
“He was always asking these big mission questions about how are we making space for people who are not here yet,” Mark said. “It was how my faith was shaped and allowed me to always think there is an opportunity to do something new.”