In 1992, Pastor Hayes was called to First Baptist Church Naples as her 7th senior pastor. Having sensed the call of God to come to this community after serving churches in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico, he knew that God wanted to do something in Southwest Florida that could only be explained by His power and grace. The vision he had then was that God would grow this small congregation into a lighthouse of the Gospel, not only for our region but into the world. He wanted desperately to see God at work and join Him in what He was already doing!
Since that time, the church has truly seen God act in miraculous ways as many have come to know Christ as Savior, as growth caused us to relocate from our Pine Ridge Road address to these beautiful acres on Livingstone and Orange Blossom, as four ethnic congregations were born to reach internationals in our community, as multiple ministries here and abroad were started, and as a Christian school educating students from preschool to high school was begun. And, he believes the best is yet to come!
He came to faith in Christ as a teenager at a New Year’s Eve party in his native Phoenix, Arizona and that began the journey of a lifetime! On that same night, he knew that God called him to the pastoral ministry and he pursued preparation at Grand Canyon University, graduating in 1972 with his B. A. in Sociology, and then earning the MDiv and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1975 and 1979 respectively.
He met his wife Janet while they were both students in Seminary and they married in 1975. She joins him in partnership in ministry particularly as she teaches our women the Word of God through our RefresHer Women’s Bible Study. They have three children who also love the Lord and are serving Him in the local church: Kristin (born 1978) who is married to our Contemporary Worship leader Eric Yeldell, Evan (born 1985) a youth pastor in Xenia, Ohio, and Allyson (born 1989) who is married to Scott Stephens and is a school teacher in Cedarville, Ohio. They rejoice in the addition of 4 precious grandchildren through their Kristin and her husband Eric.
His life and ministry verses are:
“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart, commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act. (Psalm 37:3-5)