Saved at 16 and married at 18 to a pastor, Maryjane Hawley has spent two-thirds of her life in ministry.
RUSTON – Saved at 16 and married at 18 to a pastor, Maryjane Hawley has spent two-thirds of her life in ministry.
Asked by another church leader to encourage Maryjane to follow through
on her new commitment to the Lord, Michael Hawley, then a college
student and youth worker, did so.
“That’s how we started our relationship,” he said. “It was a friendship
for about a year. Then we started dating. Then a year and a half after
that, we were married.”
In the early days of their 34-year marriage Maryjane was a mother who
supported her pastor husband in the home and helped raise their two
boys, Pastor Hawley said.
When he went to New Orleans to pursue his master’s and doctorate
degrees at seminary, she went to work as a receptionist for an
orthodontist. Less than a week later, she became the patient
But ministry is where her heart lies, said Pastor Hawley, who now serves at Ruston’s Emmanuel Baptist Church.
“Maryjane has always been the kind of person who has wanted to minister,” he said.
One summer during their first pastorate, the two took off to a church camp with more than 20 kids on one bus by themselves.
“She was a mother figure to them, and she loved on them,” Pastor Hawley said.
“I have a passion for any child who has any need,” Maryjane said. “All
that I’ve ever done is try to serve the Lord in whatever situation He’s
put me in.”
In that same first pastorate in Illinois, Pastor Hawley recalls that he was 22 and she was 19.
“We started a bus ministry, and she would sit on a pew with a dozen bus
kids and take care of them,” he said. “She would minister to them, love
on them, take care of them.”
Taking care of children is where Maryjane’s heart is. The tragic loss
of her father early in life has shaped her to have a special empathy
for others in similar circumstances, Pastor Hawley
“She can come alongside people to share their pain and truly love on
them,” he said. “[Her loss] has made her [a] compassionate, empathetic
person who can love people. She’s one of the first ones to get
there when children have losses. She isn’t just sympathizing; she is
feeling their pain.”
Her care of children is practical, too, in that she’s begun children’s
worship programs in three of the churches where she and Pastor Hawley
have served. In addition, she now brings the children’s message in
every third Sunday at Emmanuel.
In Ponchatoula, when the couple’s two sons were RA age, she began an RA program.
“Even though most of the time it’s led by men, she jumped in and
started doing it,” Pastor Hawley said. “It started growing and
became one of the best programs in the area. One of her RA’s is now
minister of music at First Baptist Rayville and a graduate of New
Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.”
That man is not alone. Other students of Maryjane’s have gone on to
careers in ministry, including Jordan McKaskle, who was one of
Maryjane’s third graders and is now youth minister at Calvary
“Her kids see the love of Christ in her and are drawn to her,” Pastor Hawley said.
Blake Davis, who leads worship at North Monroe Baptist, agrees. Davis was also one of Maryjane’s third graders.
“The thing I will never forget is her compassion and love for me,” said
Davis who is a junior in college at the University of Louisiana at
Monroe. “She treated me like a son.
“I was in third grade and recognized that the way she taught and the
way she treated all of us, you just saw the love come out of her,” said
Davis, who named Maryjane as one of his most influential teachers. “We
could see that she loved us.”
“God has used her in her public role as much as he’s used her at
church,” Pastor Hawley said of Maryjane’s role as an elementary school
teacher. One of her gifts in the classroom has been turning “at-risk”
children into higher performers.
“I am in teaching because I want to make a difference in people’s
lives,” Maryjane said. “I do look for children who have needs, whether
academic or spiritual. I hope that they see God’s love through what I’m
doing for them.”
Maryjane, who now teaches gifted and talented kids in Lincoln Parish,
is a gifted person herself, Pastor Hawley said. “She never made
anything but an A. She was the first elementary ed graduate to receive
the graduate of the year for education award at Southeastern [Louisiana
University in Hammond]. She was also junior of the year. She’s excelled
at whatever she’s put her hand to.”