Strong faith has guided the Rev. George E. Hurtt throughout his ministry and as a result, he’s experienced success as the pastor of Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist Church.
The congregation, located in the Windsor Hills neighborhood of South Los Angeles, features a thriving membership that not only attracts people of all ages, but also contains a considerable number of young adults, from the early 20s to the late 40s.
Shepherding a flock of various ages and spiritual levels can present challenges, still Hurtt has done well as a person who loves people, enjoys preaching, and most importantly, trusts God to in every situation.
“Faith is everything in my daily life,” admitted Hurtt. “There are times when I wake up and I am emotionally fatigued and mentally down and faith encourages me in those areas.
“There are days when I have a lot of responsibilities that I know I can’t handle and so it begins with prayer and trusting God to get through those daily aspects. There is not a day nor moment that faith doesn’t play a critical moment in my life,” he insisted.
And Hurtt has witnessed many critical moments since accepting the call to preach in 1995. At the time, he worshipped at New True Vine Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, which was led by the Rev. Dr. James Jennings Sr. Three years later, he graduated cum laude from the University of Detroit Mercy with double Bachelor’s degrees in health service administration and religious studies.
Hurtt went to earn a Master’s degree in health management and policy from the University of Michigan and then entered the U.S. Navy as a commissioned officer. Relocating to Southern California, he united with Mt. Sinai where the Rev. H.B. Charles was the pastor.
“In a great step of faith, I laid aside a promising military career to attend the Master’s Seminary to prepare for full-time ministry,” recalled Hurtt, who graduated with his Master’s of Divinity degree in 2006 and was promoted as a full-time associate pastor at MSMBC. When Charles accepted another ministerial position in 2008, Hurtt was overwhelmingly elected pastor and has served the last 11 years as the spiritual leader of MSMBC.
As with every 21st century ministry, he has incorporated various strategies to engage members without changing the message of the Gospel. One area that Hurtt has embraced is utilizing technology to address the needs of the people.
“We try to incorporate technology in every dimension, from giving to worship to song lyrics on the screen. We are on the radio and our presence on the Internet includes our website, our podcast and our message on iTunes,” said Hurtt.
“Technology is critical. Either you are using technology appropriately and advancing or you’re not using technology and declining, and the church included.”
He is also a big proponent of tapping into the talents of his members, regardless of gender. Describing women as “the backbone of the church,” Hurtt assigns females in several areas including the executive team, as administrative staff and as worship leaders.
Men are just as busy in those roles as well, but Hurtt recruits them to participate in a unique manner on the first Sunday of each month. Designating that day as “Men Takeover,” male members comprise the choir, serve as ushers and perform hospitality duties.
“The only thing our sisters do is prepare the communion table on the first Sundays. Otherwise, our ladies are able to sit back and our men do everything else,” said Hurtt. “They also are challenged to engage in volunteer in opportunities around the church such as set-up, clean up and security. We try to keep our men active by giving them vital work along with leadership opportunities and positions.”
With many young adults as members, Hurtt has maintained their involvement by implementing programs to support academic learning and professional development. For young families, he recommended “a robust tutoring program, a scholarship program,” ensuring that the campus allows children to enjoy “safe and fun activities,” and “empowering young people in leadership positions and meaningful projects.”
Under Hurtt’s leadership, Mt. Sinai has a range of activities to keep every member involved in the ministry. In addition to Sunday worship at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., MSMBC offers a Discipleship Hour for youth at 10:30 a.m. and for adults at 12:30 p.m. Also, starting in June, another worship experience will be held on Tuesdays at 7:15 p.m.
“We are also excited about our pre-school that just opened, the Mt. Sinai Early Learning Center,” announced Hurtt, who added the enrollment is available by visiting mtsinaielc.org. Among his future goals is weekend worship services, operating a K-8 Christian school and increasing the church’s community development and social justice efforts.
But wherever the Lord leads him, Hurtt insisted, “I will try to maintain my focus on studying God’s word and praying. I just hope that the Lord will continue to use me for His glory and that my personal walk before God will match my knowledge of God and His Word.”
Mount Sinai Missionary Baptist Church is located at 3669 W. 54th St. in Los Angeles. To learn more, call (323) 291-1121 or visit sinai.church.