We’re so excited to welcome you as our new Assistant Pastor here at Orangewood! Can you tell us how you got here?
Twenty years ago, I would have thought that being a minister of the gospel would lead me somewhere like the jungles of Papua New Guinea. Instead, God led me to my wife, Brandy, to Central Florida, and the sacred practice of counseling. I didn’t see any of that coming.
I was raised in a Christian home with my parents and my older brother. I grew up in Nashville, TN. I don’t remember a time that I didn’t know Jesus. In fact, I used to pray for my teddy bears every night when I was a kid. And also squirrels, for some reason. I am very thankful that I grew up with Christian parents who loved me, taught me Scripture, and took me to church. I made a public profession of faith and was baptized at my church in 9th grade.
Though I loved Jesus, I was constantly haunted by guilt that I wasn’t pleasing God and that I might lose my salvation. I believed that the gospel was: Jesus died so that if I keep all the rules, I may be able to get into heaven. I had no understanding of the beautiful grace that Christ offers us in the gospel.
So what changed?
When I went to college, I met other Christians and engaged with Scripture, and my faith started to become my own. I met two Christian guys with whom I started a band, called Cool Hand Luke.
From those two men (who were only boys at the time), I learned about having a relationship with Jesus. Before that, I only knew things about Jesus. I also learned to pray for all kinds of things—not just before meals. I also learned how to share my faith.
My heart was set on fire as we traveled all over the country, singing songs about Jesus and proclaiming the gospel to anyone who would listen. Sometimes we were in loud bars, sometimes at colleges, sometimes in awkward youth rooms that were definitely not intended for rock concerts. We’d pray with people after shows, go to Waffle House at 1am, or stay up late talking about God while bundled in our sleeping bags on someone’s basement floor.
When did you know you were called to vocational ministry?
On May 20, 2000, I heard John Piper preach the sermon that would lead to his book called Don’t Waste Your Life. That day I knew without a doubt that God was calling me to ministry, and I committed to spending my days in His service in whatever capacity that may be. For many years, that was writing, recording, and performing music wherever people would have me. (Cool Hand Luke has played close to 1,000 shows in 48 states and released nine albums.)
Whenever Cool Hand Luke played in Cincinnati or anywhere near, Brandy Moore was always there. After eight years, I realized she liked more than just my band, and we got married. A couple of years into our marriage, it became apparent that constant touring was unsustainable, but my passion for sharing the hope of the gospel remained.
So how did you get to Florida?
In July of 2011, my wife Brandy and I moved to Oviedo so that I could begin the Master of Divinity program at Reformed Theological Seminary, in hopes that I would become a pastor. Almost four years later, Brandy had a Master of Arts in Counseling from RTS, and I had my Master of Divinity and my Master of Arts in Counseling.
I have experienced the deep healing that comes through therapy in my own life, and I have been able to feel God’s hand on me as I extend it to others. For the first three years, after I graduated from seminary, I focused on counseling and became a licensed mental health counselor. But ultimately, my heart has always been for the Church.
How did you get connected with Orangewood?
Brandy came on staff at Orangewood in the Spring of 2017, working in the Communications Department. In May of 2018, little Lucy was born. That fall, I came on staff as a pastoral intern, working with the young adults. It has been the most life-giving work I have ever done. In addition to hanging out with the YAMs and preaching, I spent much of 2019 preparing for ordination. That consisted of lots of writing at first, and then lots of studying and memorizing, and finally taking written and oral exams. By the grace of God, I got through it all, and the session at Orangewood has seen fit to call me to be an Assistant Pastor. So, yesterday, I was ordained and installed.
What was your ordination this past Sunday like for you?
I cannot put words to how incredibly grateful I am for your kindness to Brandy, Lucy, and me. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as loved and encouraged as I did at my ordination service and reception Sunday. Brandy and I love the Church, and we especially love our family at Orangewood. It is a profound honor to serve as one of your pastors. I am devoted to seeking the Lord, interceding for you all, and coming alongside you in whatever way I can. May Our Great God give us all hope, joy, peace, and a sense of expectancy as Orangewood follows as we follow Him into the future.
You can check out the music from Mark’s ordination service here, including Mark’s studio recording of Wasn’t that a Mystery?