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Texas church commissions SpaceX astronaut for upcoming mission

Kyle Wilson, associate pastor of student ministries at University Baptist Church in Houston, speaks with Bob and Kelli Hines on March 26. Hines is an astronaut who will pilot the SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station on April 19. (University Baptist Church livestream screenshot)

HOUSTON (BP) — On March 27, University Baptist Church in Houston commissioned one of their own to go out to the furthest mission fields.

Astronaut Bob Hines, a member of UBC, is scheduled to launch into space on April 19. There, he will spend 144 days on the International Space Station and be the pilot on the SpaceX Crew-4 mission, a four-person team that will launch out of Cape Canaveral.

March 27 was the last Sunday before Hines went into a three-week quarantine as preparation for launch. Associate Pastor of Student Ministries Kyle Wilson led the congregation in a prayer over the Hines family, including Bob’s wife, Kelli, and his three daughters. In addition to praying for safety during the mission, Wilson also emphasized that it was the church’s duty to take care of the family during Hines’ absence.

“We have the honor and the blessing as those that get to stay here to take care of Bob’s family,” Wilson said.

Hines expressed his gratefulness to God that he was fulfilling a childhood dream. He spoke of his excitement at seeing Earth from afar.

“[I] want to look at this amazing creation that God has given us and just be in awe of it,” he said.

Hines is an active member of the church, where he has served as a Sunday School teacher. His daughter also sings in the praise team.

This is not the first astronaut commissioning service for UBC, which is located less than three miles away from the NASA Johnson Space Center. Texas Baptists Executive Director David Hardage, who has served as interim pastor at UBC for the last two months, was surprised when he first learned that he was preaching to literal rocket scientists each Sunday. It was an honor, he said, to witness the church’s commissioning of Hines.

“The church pledged to pray for him when he launches in mid-April and while he’s on the International Space Station,” he said. “Additionally, the church will be diligent in providing care for his wife and three daughters while away. Bob is a strong believer and committed church member and is also quite excited about fulfilling a lifelong dream of space flight.”

Hardage’s last Sunday as interim coincided with the commissioning. Starting the following week, Will Rushing will serve as the new senior pastor of UBC.