FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) — Hershael York preached his final sermon as senior pastor of Buck Run Baptist Church on Sunday (Jan. 28), culminating a 20-year ministry there in what he termed a “no drama, no trauma transition.”
After Sunday, Chris Parrish will be the historic church’s senior pastor. The church voted in December 2021 for Parrish to become the pastor upon York’s retirement from the church. York will continue to serve as dean of theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The sanctuary was full as more than 900 people gathered for “A Final Word” from York as he preached from the final three verses in Romans, concluding a series through that book which began on May 22, 2022.
Quoting Ps. 118:23-24, York said, “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Prior to his sermon, he applauded the church’s praise team, noting that Buck Run “values character over talent, and you have both.” He thanked his Southern students and colleagues, the church staff and membership as well as his family, specifically mentioning his two sons in ministry and his wife, Tanya.
In the worship program, he wrote “the overwhelming emotions Tanya and I feel are gratitude for God’s grace and excitement about the future. The Lord has been faithful to Buck Run since 1818, and I know He will continue to glorify Himself through the ministry of this blessed church who loves His Son and follows His Holy Spirit while relentlessly proclaiming the word, making disciples and serving others.”
York said pastoring Buck Run “has been a singular honor of my life. Tanya and I love you deeply and dearly and plan to remain members here.”
He said the decision to retire from Buck Run was made as the result of much of his time being occupied in the last several years with pastors, search committees, state conventions and Christian organizations frequently calling for counsel and prayer or inviting him to preach or teach. “Soon it became apparent that the Lord was leading me to free up more time to do the things that He has uniquely equipped me to do at this stage of my ministry. “Simultaneously, I saw Chris Parrish, who was always a remarkable preacher, develop into a great servant leader who was equipped to take up the mantle here. I have been struck that so many gifts can be bundled in such a humble, loving heart.”
York’s final sermon as pastor was “The Doxology,” telling the congregation “it is fitting to end on a note of praise and glory,” citing Ecclesiastes 12:13 that says “man”s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” That praise and glory is because “you cannot save yourself — Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves.”
York urged believers to praise God that He strengthens us, and that the gospel is the power of God to salvation and it is the power of God in salvation.
Also, he said we praise God that He strengthens us through the proclamation of His word. “The gospel is mine — we possess Christ. What matters is who is proclaimed and what is preached. We want the pulpit to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.”
He added that we praise God that He strengthens us by revelation, and that we did not recognize it (salvation) by reasoning, but we received it by revelation.
York said we praise God that He strengthens us by evangelization, that we make Him known through the Scriptures and by His command. “We are commanded to call on people to repent (of their sins) and obey God. You cannot obey God without believing the Gospel. You may not be the smartest person, but you can be as obedient an anyone who has ever lived. You may not be the most talented person, but you can have as much character and obedience as anyone. We are to be obedient in the faith — this is how people will be won, by showing them the truth of God in our lives.”
And York noted that is to be done for all nations. We cannot be quiet — we cannot be unmoved and unchanged.”
York mentioned a Romanian mission started by Buck Run that resulted in a church plant. That church has now planted more than 400 churches. He said a church in Manaus, Brazil had 1,200 children workers recently for training — and those workers sat on benches made by people at Buck Run.
York cautioned his listeners that human intellect must yield to divine wisdom. “The wisdom of God is the only wisdom that matters.”
He concluded that all worship of the faith must be through the Son.
The day’s events ended with a 6 p.m. celebration that included highlights from the Yorks’ ministry to their family, church and the greater kingdom of God.