Local pastor Mark Fry lost his fight with esophageal cancer Oct. 20 — one day after his 67th birthday.
“At 7:20 a.m., Daddy was able to stand face to face with the Jesus he has been teaching about for over 38 years,” a member of Fry’s family posted to Facebook.
“We thank you for walking this journey with us, and for your love and support through this time. We will be sending more information as it becomes available.”
Fry last preached in front of his Calvary Chapel congregation Oct. 1, after which his doctors discovered his cancer had become worse.
The following week, the congregation learned how serious his condition was.
He announced to them via video Oct. 8 that he was going into hospice care.
“I wanted to tell you all that I thank you for all of your prayers and all of your support,” he said.
“And I’m proud of you … over the past year, you’ve stayed faithful to the Word of God. You’ve stayed faithful to the Word of God at Calvary Chapel.”
“I anticipate I’ll be gone in the next few days,” Fry concluded his message. “I love you. Know that I love you. … Once I get there, I’m not going to miss anything here. You’re coming right behind me.”
‘Ministering to his final breath’
A week later, on Oct. 14, Fry’s family updated the church on his condition.
“What a journey! Hospice initially didn’t think Dad would last but a few days. At the beginning of this week, they thought maybe a day or two,” the post reads.
“(Oct. 12), they were going to cease daily visits because he just wasn’t declining as he appeared to be.”
“Dad is ministering to his final breath. He’s helped one rededicate their life to Jesus,” his family added. “He’s prayed over people and given marriage/premarital counseling during this time. He is at peace and ready to be with the Lord and with Mom. He’s almost disappointed when he discovers he’s still here daily.”
Fry called to ministry
Fry and his late wife moved to Cowley County in 1975.
He was a police officer with the Winfield Police Department from 1975 to 1979.
But in July 1979, Fry decided to devote himself to full-time ministry as senior pastor of Calvary Chapel, located at 1001 S. Third St. in a former elementary school.
During his more than 38 years as a pastor, he served on various boards and worked with numerous groups in the community, including Family Life Services (FLS), the Arkansas City Ministerial Alliance and InnerChange Freedom Initiative at Winfield Correctional Facility.
Fry also served as a chaplain for the Arkansas City Police Department and prayed at the start of City Commission of Arkansas City meetings for many years.
Durham measures impact
“I have known Mark Fry since the early ’80s. I still remember when I met him,” said FLS Director Tim Durham.
“I was working at Sparks (Music), and he and a few others came in to look at musical instruments,” he said.
“After talking to them a while, they left and my boss (Roger Sparks) said, ‘Wow, you can actually see the love of Christ in that guy’s face.’ And yes, you could.”
Durham is part of the Calvary Chapel congregation.
“I heard Mark (Fry) preach a very in-depth, line-by-line, expository teaching that touched everyone’s heart,” he said.
“He also led worship most of the time and taught us how to sing spiritually, instead of sounding like a recital or performance.”
Fry also served as a counselor to Durham through what he called his “own life’s tragedies.”
“Mark (Fry) encouraged many people in town and personally encouraged me to pursue becoming the director of Family Life Services, where I still work today,” Durham said.
“It is one of the greatest joys of my life. I don’t know if I would have had the faith to make that step if he had not reminded me to think about the real purpose of why we are here in the first place. Mark Fry was a true man of God and his influence on this community is immeasurable.”
A memorial has been established for Calvary Chapel.
Contributions may be made through the funeral home.
Arrangements are being under the direction of Rindt-Erdman Funeral Home, Arkansas City.
Online condolences may be made at www.rindt-erdman.com.
A celebration of life will be held at 2 p.m. Nov. 4 at First Assembly of God Church, located at 3125 N. Summit St. Fry’s wishes were that no one in attendance wears any formal attire.