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A Tribute to Pastor Mark Franklin

Monday, September 10, 2007

On Sunday (September 9), Pastor Mark Franklin of Hardingville Bible Church in Monroeville, New Jersey celebrated his 25th year as the Pastor of the church. In recognition of this special anniversary, the church had a special dinner on Saturday night and some special speakers came in for the services on Sunday - including Dr. Dave Burgraff (from Clearwater Christian College and Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary) and Dr. Tony Fox (formerly on staff at Northland Baptist Bible College).

I served as an Assistant at Hardingville Bible Church from August 1999 to November 2004, including spending the last year or so going through the Church Internship Program that Pastor Franklin has established at the church. There are a number of men in the ministry who previously served as Assistants at Hardingville Bible Church in the Church Internship Program of HBC. While most of us could not make it up to the services, many of us (and many others) sent up greetings to Pastor Franklin and the church on this special occassion. Below is a copy of the greeting that I sent up to Hardingville for Pastor Franklin on this special occassion.


Dear Pastor Franklin,

I regret that we are unable to be there for this special celebration of your 25th anniversary as pastor of Hardingville Bible Church. It is truly an honor to count you as a friend and a mentor in ministry and I rejoice with you and the church on this special occasion.

When Paul addressed the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:28, he told them that they were to "feed the church of God" When Peter chose to address the elders throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, in 1 Peter 5, he also told them that they were to "feed the flock of God." In both cases, the words chosen by for describing this task was the word that has the idea of "to tend as a shepherd." When I think of men I have known who set an example for me in this regard, my thinking process starts with you and the way in which you been so careful to heed the admonition of tending for the flock like a shepherd.

One of the ways in which we tend for the flock is to make sure that the flock is well-nourished. A steady diet of Biblical truth is a key in providing nourishment to a congregation - and as anyone who has sat under your pulpit ministry can tell you, God has gifted you in a unique way in providing for that nourishment. I have had the privilege to hear the preaching of some of the most well-known and well-respected preachers in our country, yet I have none that have provided the consistent nourishment that flows from the pulpit at Hardingville on a regular basis.

Another way in which we tend for the flock is to make sure that the flock is well-protected. At Hardingville, this is accomplished by the grace of God and your watchful eye. You keep yourself aware of the dangers that are around so that you can send out a warning to the flock. You recognize that an educated flock is a safer flock, so you have taken the time to teach people about the errors that abound, so they might recognize those errors when you are not around.

A third way in which we tend for the flock is to make sure that the flock is well-led. Sheep have a tendency to wander and get lost or be aimless in their approach to life. Pastor, God has given you a great ability to get the sheep moving and lead the sheep where they should be. Whether this is individual sheep or the whole flock, you have exemplified leadership for me in a way in which I can only hope to emulate in some degree.

Pastor, I could go on (and did in earlier drafts), but I want you to know that I appreciate you as a Pastor. Not only are you a friend and a former boss, but when I think through my role as a Pastor, I often think about the lessons that I learned from watching and working with you. You have raised the bar for a number of us in the way that we look at serving as Pastor and I pray that you may continue to do so for another twenty-five years.

Thank you for your faithful example and your friendship.

In Christ,

Pastor Frank Sansone
Fellowship Baptist Church of Salisbury, Maryland
Hardingville Assistant (Aug 1999 - November 2004)