For Rev. Jonas Hayes, newly called pastor of Grace First, Long Beach, coming to Los Ranchos from Kansas City (and before that Mississippi), all roads lead to California, it seems. He met his wife in California, got married in California, was ordained in California and had his first child (Sonja Grace, 7) in California. So, his return is a homecoming of sorts for the native ofthe midwest.
Before Jonas and his wife Kim were married they took a trip south from San Francisco on Highway 1 to visit her family in Los Angeles. “We stopped in Long Beach and I actually proposed to my wife in Long Beach,” he shared. “In calling us to Grace First, God is leading us back to the place where we were just beginning our journey as a couple.”
Hayes is excited to continue the journey in this new chapter.
“I’m excited about the church,” he shared. “It is a diverse congregation that has been strongly missional,” he continued. After the New Beginnings process Grace First identified two areas in which they wanted to grow – their mission and their spiritual formation. For Hayes hearing that was only further confirmation of the call. “Spiritual formation and mission are what I would consider the pillars of my ministry – it was exciting to see the ways they wanted to grow were right within my scope and passion in ministry.”
He is also excited about the cultural and theological diversity represented within Grace First. “The cultural diversity of the congregation resembles what the church should look like – finding our unity in Jesus Christ in the midst of an increasingly polarized society.”
There is a statement in A Declaration of Faith that asserts that worship is no retreat from the world, but rather is part of the church’s mission. “Outreach is integrated within the worship and faith practice at Grace First and that was something that really resonated with me,” Hayes explained. Even the very geographical presence – at the intersection of two streets, Lost Coyotes Diagonal and Studebaker, the church sits prominently within the neighborhood. “Just in the symbolic nature of how the church sits in the neighborhood, it is expressing this truth.”
Another way the church ‘embodies’ its mission is expressed each Sunday during worship services. The pulpit, communion table and baptismal font were all made by a church member who has since passed away. “God speaks to us through many different ways, but one is through symbol,” said Hayes. “There is something beautiful communicated in a church member making, by hand, a Lord’s Table, baptismal font and pulpit – that we are called to share our spiritual gifts in all the places of life.”
Hayes and his family will be moving to Long Beach in late May. His call will begin on June 1. He is on Facebook (Jonas Hayes) or you can send him a note of welcome by email ([email protected]). Oh, the other thing he and the family are looking forward to? Good sushi.