The DuBrocs will be closing one door and opening another as Brother Rick steps down from the pulpit at First Baptist Church after more than four decades of ministry there.
“Sometimes, it’s just time,” DuBroc said. “I’ve told my sons (Rich and Jon) ... when I’m no longer effective, to tell me. I just beat them to the punch that’s all. But both agree (it’s time).”
At the age of 75, DuBroc says he’s worked longer than most who have gone into retirement. He has been a pastor for 50 years, with 42 of those years at First Baptist, El Campo. Before that, he devoted five years in youth ministry as well.
I’ve been here 42 years ... I hope to have made a mark on this church,” he said.
Stepping down as pastor, he says, is a little scary.
“I’m sad. I don’t know what’s next,” DuBroc said. “There’s something spooky about not knowing what’s going to happen, but I am grateful though.”
Wife Larna, a retired educator who has been her husband’s soul mate for 53 years, has served in various capacities in the church as well. The couple were led to El Campo when her husband became the leader of the flock at First Baptist in August 1979.
To the best of their knowledge, DuBroc has been the longest-serving pastor of any church in town. A couple of other pastors, Rev. Lampe at Trinity Lutheran and Lloyd Nixon at First Presbyterian, according to Chris Barbee, deacon at First Baptist and former publisher of this newspaper, were also “long serving pastors.”
“Brother Rick is a great pastor ... he’s a good preacher, but a great pastor,” Barbee said. “I don’t now any minister that does a hospital ministry like he does.”
“I care about people and the community,” DuBroc said. “But I always put the church first. People are important.”
Barbee knows firsthand what DuBroc’s ministry means to the congregation and especially a patient spending time in the hospital.
“When I had my bicycle wreck, the first voice I heard was Brother Rick’s,” Barbee said. “He came and prayed for me. It made all the difference. That’s the way he is.”
With his office desk drawers filled to the top with handwritten sermons, DuBroc says he has never preached the same sermon twice.
“I may use the same text, but I rewrite it to make it come alive,” he said.
DuBroc was a Baptist minister in Ganado from 1971-74 and Luling from 1974-79 before being recommended for the pastorate in El Campo.
As a child, DuBroc rarely called a place home for any length of time because of his father’s work in the oil field business.
“I was an oil patch kid,” he said.
His family had aspirations for him to become a lawyer, but his interest was in sports and church.
“But I never wanted to be a preacher, ” he said during an interview in 2019.
DuBroc was led to the ministry after having read the book “‘For We Have This Treasure,’” he said. The basic message is “you are unique ... God expects you to be you. God freed me to be me,” he said.
Settling down in El Campo was a good move for the DuBrocs and their young family. It has been the place they’ve called home and where their two sons have grown up.
“We’ve been blessed ... this church has taken care of us and we’ve taken care of them,” DuBroc said. “God gave me what I have had ... a permanent home. Jon went to high school and graduated from here ... I never had that.”
Born in Fort Worth, his family lived in Midland, Hobbs, N.M., Pecos, Beaumont, Liberty and other towns during the course of his growing up years, including Victoria where he met Larna while attending services at First Baptist Church. They started dating while they were seniors in college, he at Baylor University and she at Sam Houston State University.
The couple married June 15, 1968 and lived in Fort Worth while he attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and she was teacher for Burleson ISD. She also worked as a secretary for the seminary and he worked several jobs on campus.
After their sons were born, she became a stay-at-home mom. Later on she filled in as a substitute teacher for early childhood, then eventually became certified to teach special needs children.
A few years ago, the couple built their dream home in the country where they enjoy their days of solitude, tending to the horses and cows and spending time with family.
“I want to stay active,” he said. “We live on a farm and we have plenty of things to do as long as I can.”
Sunday, Sept. 26, DuBroc will deliver his final message. What that message will be, he wasn’t sure at the time of this interview.
“My final message? I’ve been thinking and praying about that,” he said. “My hope for the church is to keep going forward.”
Until his position is filled, Dr. Jimmy Martin is serving as interim.
“He’s been in Europe ... kind of a mission guy ... a sharp guy ... he’s seasoned,” DuBroc said.
DuBroc hopes to fill in on occasion when someone needs a preacher, but says his goal “is to stay out of the way.”
Sunday afternoon, the congregation of First Baptist is inviting the community to join them in honoring the couple at a reception from 3 - 4:30 p.m. at The Rustic Chandelier on FM 441.
“Whoever takes his place has some big boots to be filled,” Barbee said.