Pastor Brian Hastings

Brian’s earliest memories of church are of playing with red cardboard bricks in the preschool class at a Baptist church in Quincy, Illinois.  What stuck with him was the sense of welcome and caring he received from the people who invested themselves in the church.  It was that same love of God – lived out in day-to-day life – that helped make the Gospel real to him as he grew up at the First Baptist Church of Moline, Illinois, where he was baptized as a youth and given opportunities to serve and grow.  This led to an exploration of his calling to ministry, and from where he was ordained in 1999.

Brian attended the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota, where he received a B.A. in Liberal Arts (Interdisciplinary Studies), and where he met his wife, Gabrielle.  He graduated from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary (now Palmer Seminary) in 1999.  A month after graduating, he and Gabrielle were married, and they began ministry at Memorial Baptist Church of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, where they served until he accepted the call to serve as the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Bloomington, Illinois.  His wife, Gabrielle, has served in Fond du Lac helping a variety of nonprofit ministries.


What's one of your favorite Scriptures or Bible stories and why?

Central to my understanding of what it means to live in relationship to God and to understand ourselves are the scriptures Jesus quoted in Matthew 22:37-40 as the center points which sum up the heart of the story of God and humanity: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”  And “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  This call to love God with the focus of our being and lives is a reflection of the loving character of God revealed in Jesus, as Paul describes in his prayer for the Christians in Ephesus and everywhere: “I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:18-19)

Describe your "perfect" day.

My “perfect” day would involve enjoying the beauty of creation, whether from a kayak, or on foot, or driving cross-country, photographing land and sky; sharing a good meal and good conversations with friends; and taking time to relax in a hammock and read. 

What are your top three favorite books or movies?

Stories are powerful ways of expressing reality, and one of my favorites is Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, whose themes informed by Tolkien’s faith resonate ever more deeply over time. 

What's your favorite family tradition?

Gabrielle and I don’t really have a lot of what we might call “family traditions” to speak of.  The closest I can think of is that, for Christmas Eve dinner, we go out and buy assorted crazy junk food/fun food at the store for a no-fuss mini-feast in the midst of the celebration and ministry of the holidays.

If you could have dinner with anyone (past, present, or future), who would it be and why?

I would love to have had the opportunity to sit among the Inklings (including C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien) as they talked about stories and theology.