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'Very humble, with servant heart' - Church says Goodbye to Popular Minister 

A church has marked the retirement of its popular minister in style.

More than 500 people gathered at Moriah Baptist Church in Risca near Newport recently to say thank you to the Revd John Hayward and his wife Ann, after a distinguished and happy ministry spanning more than 30 years.

John and Ann joined the church in 1976. In that time the church has learnt to be more community focused, said John, and set up a number of things up, like a men’s breakfast, run a toddlers group and pre-school. The building was extended around 15 years to provide more community facilities and is in much use.

John himself is very well known locally, and has won a couple of awards for his work in the community.

He was also president of the Gwent Baptist Assembly in 1985, and in the same year was inducted as president of the English Assembly of the Welsh Baptist Union.

‘It was a very happy ministry, extended over a long period of time,’ said John. ‘It’s a very supportive church, and it’s been a privilege to be the minister.’

One of the highlights was hosting a visit from an astronaut in 1987.

‘It was a very special event. It was out of the blue - he was coming to Cardiff anyway, and he then came to us.

‘He said that Jesus walking on the earth was more important than man walking on the moon.

‘People still talk about it.’

They will remain there as members of the congregation, and are delighted to be replaced by the Revd Marc Owen, church life secretary at the Baptist Union of Wales.

Although there many wishes of support and thanks for John and Ann during the retirement service at the end of April, it included a number of testimonies from the church members themselves.

‘We felt it was important to mark the end of the ministry before Marc comes later in the year, so we decided to have a celebration. It was a lovely occasion and it was all meant to glorify God.

‘We are looking forward to working with Marc, and a new chapter in our ministry. You are never retired in the Lord’s service.’

Secretary Sylvia Ware said the couple are ‘greatly loved by the members and the community‘.

‘He is a 24/7 guy, very humble with a servant heart. We thank God for them both and for blessing them and us together through the years.’
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