A church was packed to overflowing as members, friends and family celebrated the life of the popular former minister.
More than 1,000 people attended the funeral of the Revd John Hayward on Tuesday 1 October at Moriah Baptist Church, Risca, with several hundred overflowing into neighbouring Tredegar Park where the service was relayed through speakers.
John died on 17 September after suffering neck and head injuries while doing some gardening at his home. He was 66.
He had served Moriah as its pastor 36 years until his retirement in 2012, but remained in the congregation. Indeed, the church had invited John to serve as associate pastor alongside successor the Revd Marc Owen.
During his time as minister the church became very community focused, with John helping to set up a number of groups (toddlers group, pre-school, men’s breakfast), as well as being a street pastor.
Among those taking part in the funeral were John’s children Claire and Steven and his friend of 43 years, the Revd Roger Hart. A wealth of stories were shared about John’s devotion to his family and his dedication to his work as a pastor.
In his address, Marc summarised John’s impact on the church and wider community. Indeed, such was this impact a number of shops closed during the funeral. His commitment to pastoral care and mentorship of newly ordained ministers were warmly referenced.
Amidst the grief and shock experienced by many in recent weeks, Marc encouraged the congregation to consider that John had departed this life in order to be welcomed home in eternity. The final words of the sermon boomed in the church and through the town centre: “Well done my good and faithful servant.” This was followed by a round of applause for John’s life and contribution to church, community and the wider Baptist family.
His wife Ann, 67, told the South Wales Argus, ‘He was very well known in the community. He was loving, caring and selfless. His life was serving God till the day he had the accident doing his work that he loved.’