The Rev. Jason Hay has been serving as senior pastor at Lynn Haven Baptist Church in Vinton since January of this year. He and his wife Tiffany were called after an extensive search led by the Pastor Search Committee.
They came to Vinton from Mecklenburg Baptist Church, located in southern Virginia on the North Carolina line between South Boston and South Hill. The Hays served that church for 11 and a half years.
Hay grew up in the Richmond area and graduated from high school at Commonwealth Christian. He went on to earn his Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical Studies, his Master’s Degree in Religion, and his Master of Divinity Degree from Liberty University. During that time, he served as pastor at Liberty Baptist in Crewe, as well.
He was first called to the ministry while on a mission trip when he was 14, but “walked away from it,” thinking more of a career in architecture. He said his parents insisted that he attend a Christian university and in his second year at Liberty, that “still small voice called again,” and he has “never looked back.”
He and his wife met at Liberty when he was a junior and she was entering as a freshman. She received a degree in nursing and became a “stay-at-home mom” once their children were born. They have a son, Landen, age 11, and daughter Lauren, age 4, who Hay describes as “stellar kids.”
Hay says his wife Tiffany is not only his “helpmate,” but the “definition of a pastor’s wife,” deeply engaged in the ministries of the church. She most recently served as director of their Vacation Bible School and sings on the Praise Team.
Hay said he accepted the call to Lynn Haven, seeing them as a church ready to grow, and located in an area needing the influence of the gospel. He praises the “great facility at LHBC with a great group of deacons ‘setting on go.’”
He says the church’s philosophy is “live, love, lead—Live for Christ, Love One Another, and Lead by Example.” His own personal philosophy is based on scripture from 1 Thessalonians 2:4, “But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, who examines our hearts.”
He describes himself as “scripturally conservative,” hoping that “God will speak to me and through me.”
Lynn Haven Baptist Church began as a mission over 50 years ago in November 1960 with 12 people led by the Rev. H.W. Connelly. During its history, the church’s continued purpose has been “to reach out and equip people to witness, worship, serve, be good stewards, become mission-minded, and to faithfully experience the encouragement of genuine Christian fellowship.”
The congregation originally met in a rented store on Washington Avenue. At one time, some of the Sunday School classes met in a barber shop across the street. One children’s class met in a car, and other classes met in homes in their early years.
The Roanoke Baptist Missionary and Social Union bought five acres along Route 24 that were given to the church and is where the church is now located. Construction began in 1962 and has continued into recent years with most recent renovations to the Student Center and Preschool.
Lynn Haven Baptist has two services each Sunday— a contemporary service at 8:30 and a “balanced” service at 11 a.m. Members are involved in many ministries within the church and reaching out into the community. They operate a highly respected preschool directed by Bonnie Jones, extensive ministries for children and youth, and a Prayer Blanket Ministry that makes and distributes blankets to people in the church and community experiencing crises in their lives.
The kitchen staff serves community dinners each Wednesday night, including dinners for shut-ins. They serve as the community Relay Station for Operation Christmas Child, which delivers gift boxes to children around the world. They have hosted Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers traveling to victims of catastrophes such as Hurricane Sandy.
Hay says he plans to spend his first year at Lynn Haven Baptist “evaluating what we have,” before their church council will discuss the future. He is not focused on attracting any one age demographic, believing that it takes all age groups to “grow a healthy church,” although he has said that the church “will do virtually anything to reach youth.” In fact, he says in general regarding all age groups, “If we can capture their imagination, He can capture their hearts.”
He said the church has an “incredible staff,” with Jason Roth, Minister to Students, Music Director Cheri Williams, office administrator Lynn Zimmerman, and secretary Linda Mayhew. Hay said Roth is a biblically sound teacher with a passion for students. As for Williams, everyone experiences her personal care from the choir to the Praise Team to leading worship— “she is so talented and even makes hospital visits.”
Zimmerman is the “glue that holds it all together. She helps everyone, “especially the new guy.” Mayhew brings a “warmth and caring to the office, in addition to taking care of all the details.”
John Newcomb, chair of the Pastor Search Committee, said the group had a specific job description in mind when searching for a new pastor. They received 50 applications and accepted resumes for 30 days. They narrowed the pool of candidates to the top 10, then the top five, and finally the top three. They viewed Hay’s past sermons available online as part of the process.
“Rev. Hay rose to top of every list,” said Newcomb. “Each time he came out on top. We wanted sustainability. In all groups, he came to the forefront.”
The eventual conclusion by the committee was that “God just put Jason and the committee together. He was someone set aside by God for Lynn Haven Baptist and has been a real blessing. We feel this is what he was called to do. We felt like we had known him for years as we talked with him and that he would be a great fit for our church.”
One notable aspect of Hay’s ministry in Mecklenburg was that the church took involvement with the Mecklenburg school system as a mission.
“Jason shared the gospel and Christian principles in a day to day way, assisting schools with food, clothing for students– not stuffing religion down their throats, but living his talk, letting them see a Christian example,” said Newcomb.
Since he came to Lynn Haven, Hay has reached out to William Byrd High School Principal Tammy Newcomb seeking to involve the church with the school and its students. They have worked with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) student organization and even chaperoned dances.
John Newcomb says both Jason and Tiffany Hay had qualities they were looking for as a church. “They are a great family and a great asset for Lynn Haven and the community in general.”