By Katherine Yeager | Echo
During a recent visit to Taylor's campus, Mark Hurt ('85) shared his Taylor experience and heart: for missions, for ministry and for Christians in the public arena. As Hurt campaigns for U.S. Senate campaign, he hopes that the civility and compassion he learned at Taylor through friends, professors and visiting speakers will be manifested through the way in which he campaigns.
When Hurt lived on The Brotherhood (Broho), 1 a.m. Trojan Pizza orders, card games and relevant debates were common parts of floor life. Hurt lived in the old Samuel Morris Hall and remembers talking in the early hours of the morning with his PA and roommate Jim Russell, a missionary kid from Peru. Out of these conversations arose a passion for cross-cultural knowledge, public issues and missions.
Now an Indiana attorney and part-time prosecutor, Hurt came to Taylor as a transfer student from Anderson University. A graduate of Madison Grant High School, he dreamed of coming to Taylor after years of attending the university's basketball camps and missions conferences. After attending Anderson for two years, Hurt made the switch with the initial hopes of playing basketball or baseball for the Trojans.
At Taylor, he declared a double-major in coaching and social studies education. He specifically remembers Professor of History William Ringenberg and Professor of Political Science Phil Loy from his time at Taylor. Hurt was especially fond of Constitutional Law with Loy.
"(Loy) was influential," Hurt said. "(I) didn't agree with Phil Loy on a lot of issues (politically), but he was a great teacher and we had stimulating discussions. That was one of the spark plugs and an impetus for me to get involved in public service. The things I learned from him-the challenges-really made me think: 'What do I believe?'"
When Hurt wasn't studying social studies and education, he pursued his second love, athletics. Hurt decided not to play on Taylor's basketball or baseball team, instead participating in their intramural equivalents with Broho. There, Hurt further developed friendships with floormates and others that have lasted over three decades.
Above any others Hurt's friendship with Russell remains one of the influential ones. Through conversations about Russell's time in Peru and Hurt's time spent on a Lighthouse trip to Haiti, he began to deepen his passion for missions and cross-cultural thinking. He encouraged students to participate in short-term missions opportunities like Lighthouse and to interact with international students with hearts open to learn their culture while on campus.
"As Americans, our way is not always the best way; some things in their culture don't need to change," Hurt said. "You want to have an attitude of learning so you can grow real friendships."
At Hurt's graduation, Chuck Colson, an Evangelical leader and founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries, gave a message at Taylor-the first institution he spoke at after being released from prison for his involvement in the Watergate scandal. Through Colson, a profound voice regarding the importance of ethics in public policy, Hurt saw the importance of Christian engagement in public issues as a means to be salt and light in the world.
"If we're going to get involved in the public service arena, we have to ask how we can treat the other side with respect and have an element of civility," Hurt said. "We don't have all the answers and (we) have to rely on the Bible as the absolute word of God."
After graduation, Hurt taught for a year at a school in Wabash before deciding to attend a two-year graduate program at Baylor University. There, he took additional Spanish and political science courses to obtain a political science and international relations degree. While at Baylor, Hurt considered moving to Washington, D.C. He chose D.C. and stayed for eight years.
Working on Capitol Hill, Hurt held several jobs while assisting the senior staff at the Congressional Research Service. The organization created issue briefs for members of Congress, allowing Hurt to become involved in public issues such as private sector health reform, the Senate Head Start program committee and the Americans with Disabilities Act. He ushered a compromise for the National Endowment for the Arts and served as a floor leader for former President George H.W. Bush.
Hurt's love of mission work and immersion in public issues pointed him to a community need-how to combat violence and misdemeanors in youth. He began to ask how the Church could help and put his coaching degree and passion for education to at the same time.
He then launched an inner city basketball league called The Washington D.C. Metropolitan Basketball League that worked alongside Young Life leaders and local churches. Hurt was inspired by the importance of basketball and teamwork in his own life and wanted students to benefit from relationships formed with teammates and coaches, a family of sorts.
Today, Hurt and his wife, Nancy reside in Kokomo with their two adopted children, Daniel, age 20, and Anna, age 22, where Hurt practices law and is preparing for his Senate bid against current Senator Joe Donnelly, D-In.