Pastor Joe E. Hayes and first lady Bobbie Hayes, say farewell. The Rev. Isaac Wright delivering his sermon live via Facebook. (Photos: Shirley Jackson)

by Shirley Jackson —

After 45 years of service, dedication and leadership at Greater Lakeview Missionary Baptist Church (GLMBC) at 191 E Holmes Rd., Pastor Joe E. Hayes has shifted into retirement, making room for a new church shepherd.

In August, the members of GLMBC unanimously voted the Rev. Isaac A. Wright Jr. as their new senior pastor. Wright and his wife, Joyett (Joy), accepted the title of Pastor and First Lady.

“I was grateful and humbled when the board and church leaders asked me to apply for the position and it worked out,” Wright said.

Hayes’ retirement (Aug. 2) was celebrated with a guest church – Laughter Missionary Baptist Church, pastored by his brother Charles Hayes, who delivered the sermon. Members and visitors from the Memphis community (socially distanced and wearing masks) stopped by to wish Pastor Hayes well in his retirement.

The celebration continued with food and a drive-by retirement party in the church’s parking lot to honor and show love and appreciation to Pastor Hayes and First Lady Bobbie. “I’m going to miss everyone, but I will be back to visit,” Hayes said as he greeted members and friends in the caravan of cars that drove by.

Wright, the congregation’s new shepherd, is a former commander in the United States Air Force Reserve (USAFR). He accepted his calling to preach in 2004. He took a buyout to come off active duty in 2006 and returned home to Memphis.

Considering himself a novice preacher, Wright said, “I thought it was a great opportunity to learn from my dad and we sojourned at my dad’s church, New Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, for about three or four years. The problem was that he (dad) had five associate ministers and four evangelists … I only got to preach maybe once or twice a year.”

Wright and his family joined GLMBC in 2011, where he became the associate pastor and the family became actively involved in various ministries.

The Rev. Isaac Wright and first lady Joy Wright: “We want GLMBC to be that beacon of light serving the community.” (Photo: Shirley Jackson)

When talking about his family, Wright proudly said, “Joy and I will be married 14 years, Sept. 30. We have five kids and one granddaughter. Our oldest son, Tevyn (wife Dominique and granddaughter Harmony) is a tech sergeant E6, active duty in the United States Air Force in Las Vegas, Nevada.”

Daughter Taylor is a 02 active duty Coast Guard in St. Petersburg, Fla. Isaac III is a senior at Central High School. Amaya is in the eighth grade at Maxine Smith Steam Academy. And, Abigail is in the second grade at Peabody Elementary.”

Pastor Wright has outlined three goals for 2020 to attain growth and prosperity of the church.

“The first goal is Meaningful Ministry, which is outreach ─ fulfilling our calling and the work of the church by helping those who are in need. We want to be that beacon of light serving the community.

“The second goal is mutual support for one another. COVID-19 has created some fellowshipping challenges for us all. I encourage the members to reach out to one another with phone calls, texts social media etc. to support and uplift each other to maintain family bond that we are familiar with.

“Lastly, maintenance and mortgage ─ take care of deferred maintenance projects to make sure the facilities are in top notch shape when we return to our cooperate worship format. For the mortgage, our extended goal is to pay off the church and celebrate with a Mortgage Burning Party.”

Wright is looking to make better use of technology as a means of communicating.

“I want my congregation to start engaging technology. There is Zoom. There is Microsoft Teams. There is Skype. There are so many ways we can get together and talk. We can do it via our smart phones and things like that,” he said.

“We are live streaming our worship services, Sunday School and Bible Study on Facebook. We also have phone conferences because we have a lot of senior members who don’t have smart phones. They can just pick up the phone, dial a number and hear what’s going on at the church.”

Wright’s favorite Bible verse is Psalms 23 – “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

He explained: “It means to me that, whatever I need I can find in God no matter what it is. When I need help or assistance, I can find it in God; questions I have God will answer. I just have to exercise patience to wait for his answers and accept his sovereignty.”

First Lady Joy said, “The biggest thing for me is being supportive and getting my hands dirty with the work. You know, not being a bench member, but really getting out and working and genuinely loving the people of God and doing ministry with God’s purpose at the forefront of our mind.”