Granville Pastor Kirkpatrick Found Jesus, Redemption

GRANVILLE – He thought he knew where he was going. Then the direction changed.

“My heart’s dream,” said Gary Kirkpatrick, “was to be a game warden or a park naturalist, maybe even move to Alaska. However, my life took a turn.

Today, Kirkpatrick is a pastor at Spring Hills Baptist Church in Granville.

“Even though my direction has changed and I am sure I will continue to do so,” he said, “it is God who carries the compass of my life.”

Kirkpatrick was born and raised in North Canton, graduated from Hoover Viking High School in 1978, then moved to Ohio State.

“I was going to study wildlife management at the natural resources school,” he said. “Then a young graduate student appeared in my dorm and began pouring his life of support and grace into mine. He and I became real friends. He allowed me to see a very different life – because at This phase of my life, I was entrenched in the culture of drugs, alcohol and sexual promiscuity, I was leaving school, penniless and without direction.

“But God had a different plan,” Kirkpatrick continued. “This new friend, also named Gary, gave me a Bible and in October of that year I gave my life and accepted the free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ. I started getting involved in a campus-based ministry called the Navigators. I studied my school curriculum for the first time. And I left my addictions and heartaches through the power of Christ.

Kirkpatrick graduated in 1982, married, then took a job as a camp director at a church in Columbus.

“I was introduced to the wonders of children,” he said. “Thus, I felt a nudge, or a call, to enter the field of education. I returned to OSU to receive a Masters in Education. However, by the end of 1985, there were no opportunities available in local school systems. So I found an assignment for an entry level position with the Boy Scouts of America.

“Having greatly enjoyed scouting in my youth,” he added, “and still a deep love of the outdoors, I landed a position and spent six years on the BSA’s Central Ohio staff, eventually becoming their CFO.”

After 6 years with the Boy Scouts, Kirkpatrick “was introduced to the 4-H program for the first time” and was hired as an extension worker in Licking County.

“I became well connected,” he said, “to most aspects of our community – educational, professional, spiritual, and governmental aspects of life. However, it was the spiritual connection that started to attract me. A fledgling church in the early 90s had been formed called Spring Hills Baptist in Granville and we began attending in 1992. Founding pastor Jeff Pound knew of my influence among the youth in the community and he invited me to pray for a call to full-time ministry.

Kirkpatrick has been with Spring Hills ever since. In 1995, he became the church’s first youth pastor. He has since also served as Education Pastor, Children’s Pastor and is now Pastor of Local and World Missions and Senior Adults.

“I can simply but very sincerely describe Gary Kirkpatrick as the most Christlike man I have ever met in my entire life,” said Pastor Scott Hayes, chaplain at Licking County Jail. “He is consistent, compassionate and really humble. We call him the “Prayer Ninja” because he is constantly eager to pray. It is truly a privilege for me personally to share life and ministry with Pastor Gary. I sometimes joke that “When I grow up I want to be like Gary Kirkpatrick”.

“God carries the compass of my life,” Kirkpatrick replied. “He did this for the love and honor of his name.”

Aces of Trades is a weekly series about people and their jobs – whether it’s unusual jobs, fun jobs, or people who take ordinary jobs and make them extraordinary. If you have a suggestion for a future profile, let us know at [email protected] or 740-328-8821.

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