By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — From Pennsylvania to Dearborn and now to retirement, Littlefield Presbyterian Church Pastor the Rev. Fran Hayes plans to enjoy family time and hopes to preach in other churches part-time when needed.
Hayes celebrated 22 years of serve at Littlefield with a retirement party May 19, which will become official during a vote from the congregation during a meeting on June 25 making her honorably retired.
“Over the years, I’ve enjoyed helping Littlefield affirm itself as theologically progressive,” Hayes said. “I’ve also enjoyed the loving and joyful community, the church’s commitment to social justice and peace making along with making people feel welcome when they came to Littlefield.”
Hayes moved to Dearborn from New Alexandria, Pa., in 1997 after she was called to Littlefield, and served as pastor until this year.
“I had to do my homework and learn about the community in a hurry,” she said. “I loved the diversity and serenity a lot here. I’m a bridge builder so I worked to promote cooperation and understand between different and others.”
During her time, Hayes held a series of interfaith programs including educational and social justice panels, annual peace camp since 1998, morning services for Muslim neighbors with imams, Israel and Palestine conflict panel, series of interfaith programs with Muslim-Christian dialogue days, other panel discussions, and lunches to bring people together.
As for what she will miss the most, Hayes said the community and living in the Dearborn area with all the good people. She added that preaching on Sundays was enjoyable for her.
“Littlefield is a small, special and unique congregation with wonderful music, good worship, people who care about justice and people who are loving with one another, especially when others are going through things,” Hayes said.
Her future plans include spending quality time with her son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter who live in Charlotte, N.C., while continuing part-time work.
“The long-term plan to move to Charlotte to spend time with family because while I worked full-time it was difficult to get away,” Hayes said. “There is interfaith work to be done in Charlotte. When I go to the farmer’s market with my son I see people from all walks of life.”
Short-term plans following retirement for Hayes could be either preaching to other congregations when needed or if someone goes on vacation and to serve as a transitional minster of another congregation.
The retirement from Littlefield isn’t the first for Hayes, who retired from teaching public schools prior to becoming a pastor. Way before joining Littlefield, the journey for Hayes began when she graduated from West Chester University in Pennsylvania in 1971 where she studied elementary education and special education from 1966 to 1973.
Hayes taught in Chester, Pa., for three years from 1971 to 1974, one year in West Virginia from 1978 to 1979 and then eight years from 1979 to 1987 in northern Pennsylvania.
During her teaching career, Hayes moved on to Temple University studying early childhood education from 1975 to 1977 and then Penn State University where she earned 18 graduate credits in reading, communication and language education.
She retired from teaching in 1987 and attended Princeton Theological Seminary completing a three-year Master of Divinity program by 1990. From 1988 to 1991 Hayes worked as a chaplain assistant at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital.
“As a presbyterian I was required to study Hebrew, Greek, theology and pass ordination exams before becoming an ordained minster,” she said. “I was called to serve Congruity Presbyterian Church in New Alexandria when they were looking for a pastor and spent six years there.”
Hayes explained the “called” term used is also known as the discernment process which means, “perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual guidance and understanding” in Christian context according to Encyclopedia.com.
Littlefield Presbyterian will go through the search process for a new pastor over the summer where the congregation in attendance will hear different preachers.
A new pastor will be decided from the congregation, the elders — three officers ordained to be spiritual leaders of conjuration and help from other other Presbyterian churches in Dearborn and southeast Michigan.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])