New pastor joins Cypress Chapel

Published 11:39 pm Friday, September 9, 2011

Chris Surber, the new pastor at Cypress Chapel Christian Church, said he plans on being there for the long haul. He and his wife have four children.

Chris Surber’s journey to the pulpit at Cypress Chapel Christian Church has been a long and bumpy road.

The new pastor started at the church on Sunday. Ever since he began to feel the call to ministry, Surber had a dream of leading a country church after growing up in bustling Modesto, Calif.

“I was immediately drawn to this church,” Surber said of the church, which is located on Cypress Chapel Road. “I was curious about this church.”

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Surber moved to Suffolk from Illinois on Aug. 27, in the middle of Hurricane Irene.

“The welcome by the people has been great,” he said. “Mother Nature hasn’t been so kind.”

Surber admits he grew up as a trouble-making kid until a friend invited him to church when he was 16. Surber answered an altar call and accepted Jesus Christ as his savior.

“There was a total transformation,” he said. “I was a full-blown Jesus freak within a week.”

The ripple effect extended to his mother, stepfather and other members of his family, who all became Christians a short time later.

Surber felt the call to ministry immediately. But not having grown up in church, he didn’t know what it meant.

“I thought that God wanted me to be like Moses,” he said. “I was absolutely terrified.”

After he graduated from high school, he joined the U.S. Marines. The military gave him plenty of practice at spiritual leadership.

He became his platoon’s lay reader, a position that functioned as a chaplain’s assistant. He also got innumerable informal opportunities to tell his fellow service members about God.

Later on, he was invited to preach at a nursing home service. That was the breakthrough, he said.

“It was like I was a wrench and finally got put around a bolt,” he said.

Surber began ministering anywhere he could.

After the military, Surber went on to earn Bachelor of Science degree in religion from Liberty University, and a Master of Arts in religion and Master of Divinity from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He is working on his Doctor of Ministry degree from Temple Baptist Seminary in Tennessee, for which he is writing his dissertation on human suffering.

He and his wife Christina have four children, ages 15, 5, 3 and 1.

Surber said he enjoys working at Cypress Chapel so far and is impressed with how the entire city has a small-town feel..

“A lot of churches these days act like small children with a toy,” he said. “This church loves God, but not only that, they love people.”

Surber said he hopes to be at the church for a long time.

“I intend to be here and help this church grow,” he said.