Press Release

New Plans, Same Purpose

Monday, January 3, 2011
by Public Relations Office

Hannibal, MO - “Plans are strange things,” said Dr. Tom Hufty, vice president for collegiate  affairs and assistant to the president at HLGU.  “You think you have everything scheduled and your life planned out, and all of a sudden God throws you a curve and redirects those plans.” Hufty, who has spent the last thirteen years living out his plan as a university administrator at HLGU, announced in November 2010 that he had accepted the position of senior pastor at First Baptist Church, Maryville, IL, where he has been serving as interim pastor since October 2009. 

Originally, when Hufty was hired in January 1998, his duties were connected to the spiritual aspects of campus life including campus ministries, missions, chapel, college and denominational relations and teaching in the Christian Studies Division.  After two years of service, administration of the athletic department was added to Hufty’s assignments. 

Hufty’s tenure at HLGU is marked by many significant advances in the life of the university.  The Missions Department at HLGU has seen tremendous growth and national attention due to Hufty’s leadership.  He spearheaded the effort to establish the Intercultural Missions major/minor currently offered at HLGU.  He expanded the missions program to include over 60 additional domestic and international opportunities for missions, and developed and implemented a missions partnership with the International Baptist Convention (IBC) along with stateside organizations such as Global Encounters, Sports Crusaders and the North American Mission Board (NAMB).  “Tom brought missions emphases on our campus to a new level, organizing missions opportunities for our students during every school break, and accompanied them on many of the trips,” said Dr. Woodrow Burt, president of HLGU.

During the past five years, Hufty led the university to be twice named first in the nation in student missions mobilization with the North American Mission Board.  Over 315 colleges and universities across the nation are considered for this award. Since the inception of the NAMB Courts Redford Award in 2005, HLGU has mobilized more students for mission work than any other college or university in the nation. 

Hufty also expanded the reach of the missions department by developing and implementing service projects such as Swarm Squad, Hannibal’s Helping Hands, and Jerusalem Projects.  Swarm Squad is a group of upperclassmen trained to organize the task of moving freshmen students into their dorm rooms (unassisted by parents or friends) on move-in day.  Hannibal’s Helping Hands, a freshmen community service project held during welcome week, provides helping hands to over 15 businesses, churches and organizations. Jerusalem Projects, short or long-term service projects for local Hannibal residents, includes rake-n-run, nursing home ministry, kid’s camp, and assistance at the annual Hannibal Folklife Festival.

As the administrator for the HLGU Athletic Department, Hufty was instrumental in increasing the university athletic offerings from eight to sixteen intercollegiate teams helping to increase residential student population.

Since accepting the VP position at HLGU, Hufty has spent most of his weekends serving as interim pastor for several local and regional churches.  “One of the areas that I oversee in my position at the university is college/church relations.  I have had some wonderful opportunities to help churches across the state during their pastoral interim periods.  Since I came from that setting, I felt God had gifted me to help bridge the gap during a transitional time in the life of a church,” said Hufty.  President Burt values Hufty’s strong reputation throughout the convention and believes it is a great benefit to the university. “Tom is widely known throughout both the Missouri Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention and is in great demand as a speaker--representing HLGU in a positive way.”

Although Hufty had been approached by several churches to become the permanent shepherd of their congregation, he believed he was exactly where God wanted him.  “I love HLGU.  This is my alma mater and I am honored to help in any way to make sure she continues to be successful.”

In the fall of 2009, Hufty was asked by First Baptist Church, Maryville, IL, to serve as interim pastor for the 1,800-member congregation.  Only six months earlier (March 8, 2009), FBCM Pastor Fred Winters was fatally shot while delivering his Sunday message to the congregation.  “I remember that day,” said Hufty.  “I was serving as the interim pastor for a church in O’Fallon, Missouri, when I heard the tragic news.  I remember praying for the church with the O’Fallon congregation and then thinking two thoughts.  ‘I can’t imagine what that church is going through’ and ‘I pity the person who will follow Pastor Fred.’”  Little did Hufty know at the time, God would direct him to serve and help the people of First Baptist Church, Maryville, in a permanent position fourteen months later. “I am humbled by this new plan God has for my life and at the same time excited to be part of this incredible church.”

Before his arrival at Hannibal-LaGrange University, Hufty most recently served thirteen years as associate pastor for student and family ministries at the 3,000 member Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in Liberty, Missouri.  Hufty received his B.R.E. in Religious Education from Hannibal-LaGrange University, his M.R.E from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, an honorary Doctor of Theology from HLGU, and is ABD in the Doctorate of Educational Ministry program at Midwestern Theological Seminary. 

Hufty recalls some of his best HLGU memories are found in the classroom. Teaching courses such as Family Issues, Leadership Issues, Fundamentals of Intercultural Missions and Youth Education, Hufty greets his class each day by saying, “hello my future success stories.”  Many other “Huftyisms” and favorite sayings were included in the 2010-11 Student Planner and Handbook.  In 2002, Hufty gave the “Grace Test” to his Youth Education class to reinforce the semester-long debate between law and grace.  An article about the unusual final exam was written by HLGU Alumna Denise Banderman and submitted to Youth Specialties, an organization designed to train and equip youth ministers, and from there was printed in Leadership magazine, used as an illustration in Chuck Swindoll’s book Job: A Man of Heroic Endurance and shared on his nationwide and global radio broadcast.

Hufty is proud of his years spent at HLGU—as a student, alumni and administrator.  “I have had the unique opportunity to rub shoulders with incredible men and women who have given me a strong foundational education, shaped my values, and encouraged and fervently prayed for me along the way,” said Hufty.  The feelings seem mutual.  Upon hearing of Hufty’s “change of plans,” faculty, staff, students, alumni, trustees and administrators shared personal stories of remembrances and hopes for his future.  “Tom has been not only a friend to me, but also a capable administrator whose dependability, integrity, and wisdom I value greatly.  I trusted Tom to make sound decisions in his areas of responsibility and he came through without exception.  Tom's leaving HLGU is not only a professional loss, but also a personal loss.  However, I would never stand in the way of the Lord's leadership in his life,” said Burt.

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails—Proverbs19:21—a fitting scripture to describe Tom Hufty’s journey.  “For Tom and Rhonda their work for HLGU has been a ministry.  They have been an extremely valuable team and will be greatly missed,” said Burt.

Hufty will begin his full-time position at FBCM on February 1.

Contact Information

Carolyn Carpenter
Director of Public Relations