Having been installed as pastor at Cole Memorial Baptist Church for nearly two months, Pastor John May reflected on God's faithfulness.
The 51 year old minister testifies that he grew up in a different denomination, and while hearing of Christ, did not take Him as his personal savior until several years later. He said that although he was "religious," he realized something was missing. Once he finally made a serious choice to receive Christ and follow Him, he says that God started opening doors of ministry he never would have thought possible.
He sensed a call to become a pastor while he was attending Calkins Baptist Church. He counts Pastor Lane Jones, of Calkins, as one of his mentors.
May graduated from Faith Bible Institute in Louisiana and attended Calvary Theological Seminary in Lansdale, PA. Before accepting the pastorate at Hawley, he served as interim pastor at 1st Baptist Church of Waymart, and he has filled in at other churches. He has also been active in nursing home ministry.
Pastor S. Michael Eskra, who had served Cole Memorial Baptist Church since 2004, passed away suddenly on May 29, 2012. Pastor Sal Santoli, the assistant pastor at Tabernacle Bible Church in Honesdale, stepped in to assist in the interim. The Baptists in Hawley had never missed a Sunday since Pastor Eskra died, without a preacher.
Santoli was going away for the winter. Deacon James Rowe Sr. asked May to help out in Santoli's absence. May, who resides in Honesdale with his wife and family, became acquainted with the congregation in Hawley during that time, and the church got to know him. May filled in from January into April.
In June- on Father's Day- May received a call from Cole Memorial asking if he would come and be their minister. "It was one of my best Father's Day presents ever," Pastor May said.
An installation service for Pastor May was held on August 4, 2013.
Pastor May and his wife Heather of 23 years, have six children, Rebecca, Carl, Melissa, Rachel, John (Jr.) and Cory. The two youngest still live at home. May still lives in Honesdale and has a secular job, but once he is able to sell their house they intend to move to the parsonage in Hawley. He plans to be a full-time pastor at that time, and will be more available for ministry.
He described their present congregation as primarily an older group of saints, who are well experienced and knowledgeable in the ways of God. He said they are praying for additional younger families to attend as well as others, who they will be able to serve as role models and help serve. He said they hope to build up their youth ministries.
At Cole Memorial, he said, there is a "homey" atmosphere where visitors feel "welcomed home." They love the old hymns. The people enjoy staying after Sunday service and fellowship.
Page 2 of 2 - They have a lot of summer visitors, and presently have couples who are living in the area due to being employed on the power line project.
Cole Memorial meets for Sunday morning worship at 10:45 a.m. They also have a Bible study and time of prayer on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. Pastor May stated that they plan to soon resume Sunday School at 9:30 a.m., and will be starting separate men's and women's Bible study groups in October.
Pastor May said he has hopes for evangelistic opportunities, including at some point have an evangelist visit for a series of special services.
"I love preaching the Gospel," Pastor May said. "Life is too short- Eternity is forever."
Cole Memorial Baptist Church has a long history, dating to 1834, and was the first church established in the village. The church is located at 711 Church St., Hawley, and may be contacted at 570-226-4312.