Retired woman missionary to be pastor : Friday, Oct. 31, 2003
October 30 2003 by Steve DeVane

Retired woman missionary to be pastor : Friday, Oct. 31, 2003
Friday, Oct. 31, 2003

Retired woman missionary to be pastor

By Steve DeVane
BR Managing Editor
Before Ida Mae Hays retired as an International Mission Board (IMB) missionary to Brazil in 2002, she asked God to give her "a ministry in retirement."

She thinks that prayer was answered Oct. 5 when Weldon Baptist Church in Weldon voted overwhelmingly to call her as pastor.

"I consider Weldon to be my mission field in the U.S.A.," she said in a telephone interview the day after the vote.

Hays will begin her tenure as Weldon's pastor on Nov. 16. An installation service is planned for Nov. 23. She will be the first woman to serve as the church's pastor.

Wayne Martin, the church's previous pastor, retired in October 2002.

A Missouri native, Hays said the people at Weldon Baptist Church have been wonderful. Her call to the church came together like pieces of a puzzle, she said.

"I am excited," she said. "To me, it's just awesome."

Edna Weeks, who led the pastor search committee, said the church is excited about having Hays as pastor.

"We're going to enjoy Ida Mae," Weeks said. "She's going to be good for our church and good for our association."

Hays becomes the second woman pastor in North Roanoke Baptist Association. Joy Heaton is pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Enfield about 12 miles from Weldon.

Hays joins at least three other women who serve as pastors of N.C. Baptist churches. At least four others serve as co-pastors.

Hays and Weeks said they realize the church may face some repercussions for calling a woman as pastor.

The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message says the office of pastor is limited to men. Several N.C. Baptist churches have been criticized for calling women as pastor or co-pastor.

Hays has faced controversy over her ministry before. Just before she left Brazil in February 2001, the First Baptist Church of Paranoa in Brasilia, Brazil ordained her and named her pastor emeritus.

In July 2001, IMB officials called her to a meeting where they questioned her for two hours, she said. As a result, IMB officials asked her to rescind her ordination and pastor emeritus title. "I informed them that I had neither the power or authority to rescind," she said.

Bob Shoemake, an associate vice president with IMB, said that in September 2001, the IMB trustees adopted a statement saying the IMB does not recognize Hays' ordination or pastor emeritus title. In March 2002, the IMB gave Hays missionary emeritus status and thanked her for her service, Shoemake said.

Hays said she performed pastoral duties in Brazil. She worked alongside the pastor and preached during worship services he asked. She also visited members of the church.

Hays said she did not seek ordination in Brazil. The pastor of the church began asking her in 1990 if she would let the church ordain her.

"My pastor kept saying, 'It will enhance your ministry among us,'" she said. "I had to agree with him, but I wouldn't allow it."

Hays supervised the building of more than 30 churches during her time in Brazil. A chapel at a Baptist camp is named in her honor.

10/30/2003 11:00:00 PM by Steve DeVane | with 0 comments

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