The Rev. Robert T. Hurte, Baptist minister, dies

He had traveled abroad as a missionary and conducted a prison ministry

  • Rev. Robert Hurte
Rev. Robert Hurte
November 03, 2010|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

The Rev. Robert T. Hurte, who was pastor of Community Baptist Church in Jessup for 40 years, died Oct. 28 of lung cancer at Union Memorial Hospital. He was 78.

Dr. Hurte, the son of a sanitarium worker and a homemaker, was born and raised in Crewe, Va. He was a 1950 graduate of Nottoway Training High School in Nottoway County, Va.

In 1952, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and saw combat in Korea as a military policeman. After being discharged in 1955, he moved to Baltimore.

Dr. Hurte had planned to become a funeral director, but in 1955 went to work for the old Baltimore Transit Co. as a streetcar motorman. He later became a bus driver and worked for what became the Maryland Transit Administration until retiring in 1982.

While continuing to work for the transit agency, Dr. Hurte graduated in 1966 from the Maryland Baptist Center and School of Religion and was ordained a Baptist minister.

He pursued further theological studies at Howard University and Morgan State University, and in 1983 was awarded a doctorate in divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, Va.

When Dr. Hurte became pastor of Community Baptist Church in 1967, he had a congregation of 50 members who met in an aging building.

Today, the church has grown to nearly 400 members, and under Dr. Hurte's leadership, raised the funds needed for a new sanctuary on Cedar Avenue.

"When we built and occupied the new church, we had no mortgage," said James L. Tucker, a longtime deacon at the church, who joined Community Baptist in 1972.

"He had a vision. When I joined the church, we didn't have much money and he wanted to build a new church," Mr. Tucker recalled. "He was a great visionary, and with all the contacts and people he knew who loved and respected him, we were able to walk into a new church without a mortgage."

Recently, the church purchased a nearby home for use as a day care center.

The Rev. Joseph Lewis, pastor of Greater St. John Baptist Church in Turners Station, was an old friend and colleague.

"He was a very courageous man," said Mr. Lewis, who grew up in the same part of Virginia as Dr. Hurte and has known him for more than 40 years.

"We have been close friends through the years and have exchanged pulpits. He loved people and loved working with them," he said.

"He had various styles of preaching. He could expand on ideas and was an excellent extemporaneous preacher, and when he preached, people would stand and say, 'Amen,'" Mr. Lewis said.

The Rev. Alfred C. D. Vaughn has been pastor of Sharon Baptist Church for 24 years.

"I've known Robert as both a friend and as a teacher. I taught him at Virginia Seminary, where he was a very diligent student, and then he became a very diligent pastor," he said.

"He had a great love of people and had a shepherd's heart. He had not been called by God to be a celebrity but to be a servant of the people. He captured what Jesus said: 'If you want to be great, be a servant,'" Mr. Vaughn said.

Mr. Tucker described Dr. Hurte as a "preacher and a teacher in addition to being a minister."

"He was a good role model, and it would do us all credit to follow in his footsteps," he said.

Dr. Hurte had been vice president and president of the United Baptist Missionary Convention of Baltimore and a member of the National Baptist Convention, USA Inc., the Baptist Ministers Conference and the Hampton Ministers Conference.

He established a prison ministry in Howard County and was a member of the trustee board of the Howard County Prison Ministry. He had been a lifetime active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Dr. Hurte had participated in missionary crusades to Russia, South America and Africa.

Dr. Hurte was succeeded as pastor at Community Baptist by the Rev. Frank J. Hines in 2006, though he remained as senior pastor.

"He was a true servant of the Lord. He was a loved and compassionate person," Mr. Hines said. "He was a loving person who always thought and cared about underachievers. He always wanted to lend a helping hand and an encouraging kind word."

Mr. Hines recalled some advice from Dr. Hurte when he took over as pastor.

"He told me that it's 'always difficult trying to please people. Concentrate on pleasing God, and he'll take care of the people,'" Mr. Hines said. "He also said, 'It's not about us, it's about Christ.'"

Dr. Hurte was diagnosed with lung cancer eight years ago.

"He never complained and never took a pain pill. He was blessed in that regard," Mr. Tucker said.

In July, Dr. Hurte, a longtime Towson resident, stood before his congregation and reflected on his 40 years at the church and his career as a minister, and restated the mission of Community Baptist.

"In the last few days or years we have left upon this Earth, let us involve ourselves more faithfully in the fivefold purposes of the church — worship, ministry, evangelism, fellowship, and discipleship," said Dr. Hurte, whose remarks were later reprinted.

"When we've gone the last mile of the way, I pray that someone will be able to say, 'God was glorified through me, and my living enriched the lives of others,'" Mr. Hurte said.

Mr. Hurte was an avid fisherman, and enjoyed sharing his enthusiasm for it with several of his ministerial colleagues.

Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at his church, 7344 Cedar Ave., Jessup.

Surviving are his wife of 41 years, the former Ida B. Haskins; three brothers, Wallace Hurte, Stewart Hurte and Gilbert Hurte, all of Richmond, Va.; two sisters, Aleaze Robertson of Hampton, Va., and Jane Harris of Williamsburg, Va.; and many nieces and nephews.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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