Having served as an associate to the rector and as priest-in-charge during a 14-year tenure at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Lakeland, the Rev. Dr. Hensarling reinforced his calling to the west Polk County church when he was installed as its rector on Feb. 26. He is the eighth rector at All Saints’, following in the footsteps of the Rev. Dr. Al Jenkins, who served as rector for more than 26 years – the longest tenure in the church’s history.
“It was a beautiful service,” Hensarling said. “A wonderful day for All Saints’ and a wonderful day for the (Episcopal) Church.”
Hensarling, a native of Shreveport, Louisiana, said approximately 250 people from around the Diocese of Central Florida attended the service. Bishop Greg Brewer officiated, with assistance from the Rev. Canon Tim Nunez. Attendees also enjoyed music from the church choirs and a brass ensemble under musical directors Kristopher Ridgley and Kevin Townsend.
The installation was an easy one for Hensarling, whose years of service under Jenkins helped prepare him to be rector. “Working with him from 2003-2016 was extremely helpful,” Hensarling said. “Because I am following in his footsteps I am familiar with the work (at the church), and that made it an easy transition.”
Although he has great familiarity with All Saints’, Hensarling still is out to carve his own niche with the congregation, albeit in a subtle way. “We’re building on the things taught by my predecessor, and there are some new things, too,” said Hensarling, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University and a master’s from the University of Texas before going to seminary in 1989 and graduating from Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in 1992. He completed a Doctor of Ministry degree at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando in 2010.
One of the new things that Hensarling has incorporated is Community Outreach, a seven-person committee led by Deacon Bob Johnson. Community Outreach at All Saints’ assists with Downtown Ministry, the Lakeland Police Department, the Polk County Sheriff’s Department and other local outreaches and agencies.
“It’s anyone we can help out there,” said Hensarling, who has served in churches in Louisiana, South Carolina and Tennessee.
As for his vision for All Saints’, going forward, Hensarling said mission work is critical. “We have to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to our community, the diocese and around the world,” he said. “Evangelical mission is very important.”