Lead Pastor Gains Credibility and Confidence
By Kelly Dippolito
“Very simply, I want God to be pleased with all that I do while I’m here on earth.” Pastor Andrea Hayles graduated in June 2022 from Northern’s inaugural cohort in the Master of Arts in Christian Community Development program (MA-CCD). She is the Lead Pastor of City of Promise in Fairfield, Ohio. Through her education, Andrea gained credibility and confidence. When standing behind the pulpit, she can sense “God smiling upon her while not being afraid of those who fear a woman behind the sacred desk.”
Andrea’s journey to Northern began with a desire to go back to graduate school. She changed direction when she heard a call into ministry in 2008. In the decade between her call and the start of her studies, her ministerial roles expanded from children’s ministry into preaching. By 2018, pursuing seminary became a more realistic opportunity. Her children were older, and parenting was in a different season. In her expanded role, Andrea wanted to sharpen her skills in scripture, doctrine, and history. Introduced to Northern through her husband Bishop Gary Hayles, who served as Director of the New Kind of Preacher program, she found the flexibility of Northern Live and the unique Christian Community Development program dovetailed seamlessly with her lifestyle and ministry.
Like many, she didn’t see women and men in ministry together growing up in her own church, yet she fortunately had an example in her paternal grandmother, a trailblazing minister. Andrea recalls memories of her ministering, praying, and singing. Studying Deborah and Lydia from the Bible transformed Andea’s thinking and catapulted her into embracing ministry that would impact women and men both locally and globally.
Andrea has expertise in the juvenile justice system and impoverished communities. She has seen firsthand the consequences of gentrification by asking, “Where did the people go who lived in this apartment building?” In tandem with Scriptural and theological knowledge, the MA-CCD program challenged and developed Andrea as a more compassionate listener. “In modern culture there is distortion of what the characteristics of a true Christian are. There has to be a relevance and authenticity to ensure that those voices are heard properly.” She studied from a Christian perspective what needs to be done for families and communities to have a seat at the table. Coach Wayne Gordon challenged his students regularly, “How can you make it better?”
In the classroom, Andrea is grateful that her Northern experience, in both the Northern Live and intensive formats, gave her space to ask questions and wrestle with the answers. “Seminary education expands our ability to learn.” Dr. Jacob Robinson, adjunct professor of theology, opened a new method of learning with his teaching on embedded theology and deliberative theology. By identifying embedded beliefs, like the role of women in leadership, and working through a biblical process of discernment, entrenched thoughts unraveled and were replaced by a robust theology.
Andrea’s wholehearted commitment to grow in her faith propels her to minister faithfully and preach the gospel. She is burdened for our lost and hurting culture and sees the church as pivotal in its role to address injustice. “Unfortunately, some folk who call themselves Christian [behave] contrary to who Jesus of Nazareth is. I want to be the type of Christian that Jesus was. So, since he gave instructions to care for the poor, then that is my intent.”
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