By Dub Joiner, The News Observer
For more than 33 years Mike Hayden served the members of the First Baptist Church of Ellijay as minister of education/administration. On Sunday, Feb. 25, First Baptist held a special day for Hayden by having just one worship service at 11 a.m. and a reception that afternoon in the fellowship hall for the church membership and the community to honor him and his wife Marcia.
During his Sunday morning message on the special day, First Baptist Pastor Glenn Cummings said, “As I have gotten to know Brother Mike and work with him for over a year, there are some words that came to my mind that describe Brother Mike to me: ‘integrity, loyalty, steadfastness, dependability, and fidelity.’
“All of these things can be summarized in one word, ‘faithfulness.’
“This church has been blessed for over 33 years to have Brother Mike on staff because of his love for the Lord and his faithfulness in carrying out God’s call in his life.
“Mike, thank you for giving us an example of faithfulness even in the small, everyday things that come with serving a church family. All those days of faithfulness have allowed us as members of FBC to see the bigger picture of faithfulness. From your First Baptist Church family, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”
Hayden was called to the staff at Ellijay FBC on Oct. 3, 1984 after serving at Northside Baptist Church in Orangeburg, SC.
At FBC Ellijay, he has served under seven pastors, three of whom were interim pastors. He has also been a part of several remodeling projects the church has undertaken during his tenure: one in the early 90s when two wings were added to the sanctuary and then a more recent renovation which added a new fellowship hall, more children and adult Sunday School classrooms, as well as a new Welcome Center.
Hayden grew up in Jackson, MS and graduated from Mississippi State University before receiving his seminary degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY.
While he plans to stay active and continue to teach Life University classes at FBC, he wants to do more in his woodworking shop at home.
During the reception several church members presented tributes to Hayden for his mission work on trips out of the United States and to help with cleanup and rebuild work following recent hurricanes that affected Mississippi.
A group of FBC children presented a special tribute as a candy-filled rhyme. The final tribute was presented by his wife, Marcia, who gave him some household items she thought he would need as a “house husband.”
Hayden was also presented a basket of cards and letters from church members and a special album of letters, also from church members and others.
In retirement Hayden said he and his wife will continue to live in Ellijay and be active in the church in whatever capacity God has in store.
“This is home. Our children Kayanne and Suzanne grew up here and have families of their own here. So why should we go anywhere else?”
Dub Joiner is a staff writer for The News Observer, based in Blue Ridge.