10 years at the helm

BY RAVEN JOY SHONEL, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – Pastor and First Lady Clark and Debbie Hazely celebrated with a room full of family, friends and congregation members at their 10th pastoral anniversary last Saturday, May 14 at Suncoast Hospice.

Instead of having just one guest speaker, loved one after loved one stepped up to the podium to show their appreciation.

“Since I’ve known him I’ve known him to be an awesome man of integrity. He’s a mighty good friend to me,” said Senior Pastor Kenny Jackson of New Covenant Holiness Church. “I’m honored to know him not only in the natural, but even more so in the spiritual.”

Pastor Kara’lynne Brubaker from Positive Impact Church thanked Hazely for always being there for her, especially through her health issues.

“You’ve always lifted me up and encouraged me,” she said. “You don’t realize how much your presence in my life means. It means more than I can put into words. I just want to thank you.”

Born in France and raised in St. Pete, Hazely received his calling to the ministry in 1982 while serving in the military. Since that time, he’s pastored from Germany back home to St. Pete, and even helped start New Covenant Baptist Church. In 2005, he was called to Mt. Pilgrim and has enjoyed his role there ever since.

“I love Mt. Pilgrim. God’s vision for me at that church is to have His people return to the Word. Having people return to God’s Word will ultimately cause change in people’s lives,” said Hazely.

“I love him so dearly and I’m so thankful that God has put them in my life,” said Missionary Barbara Stockton. “I told my pastor, ‘You better be glad I love this church because Mt. Pilgrim is where I would be.’” Stockton, who attends Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, said she adopted Hazley as her godson years ago.

Pastor Joseph Reid said Hazely helped and guided him in the creation of New Covenant Baptist Church.

“He’s always been an encouraging person. We encouraged one another. He’s like a blood brother to me,” he said. “Keep on being my friend.”

Apostle Ada Davis from Joy Tabernacle Cathedral in Tampa congratulated Hazely on his 10th anniversary and encouraged him “to keep on doing what you are doing.”

Self-proclaimed Facebook fanatic Denita Lowery said one day she was stuck in an elevator and starting posting about the experience. Right after being rescued by firefighters, Hazely called to see how she was doing. To her, that one phone call showed her how much he loves and cares for his congregation.

When older brother Tyrone Hazely took to the podium, he brought tears and laughter to the crowd.

“Y’all wonder where he got all his talent from,” he said to a room full of laughter. “My brother really inspires me. I was the oldest so all of the burden was on me…but as I look now and following in his footsteps—a great pastor, a great teacher, a great leader—he has given me a lot of values.”

But it was his mother who summed it up best. “If you raise your children right, you don’t have to worry because God will take care of them,” said Daisy Gilliam, who thanked God for letting her live to see her son’s 10th anniversary at Mt. Pilgrim.

There are some 12 ministries at Mt. Pilgrim and Hazley is an active part of each one of them, treating all of them with respect and love. But the Pastor’s Aid Ministry was the star of this show.

This self-sufficient ministry put together the whole anniversary party. By selling tickets, and some of the cost coming out of their pockets, they were able buy and prepare a meal fit for a king.

Pastor’s Aide Ministry Leader Karla Williams said since they love and support their pastor so much, they made a commitment to make up any shortfall.

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