Church looking for help for pastor

A Waynesfield church congregation is banding together to help their pastor fight breast cancer and they are hoping others in the area will help.

Katie Hayes, the pastor of Waynesfield United Methodist Church, was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year after a misdiagnosis last year. By the time the cancer was diagnosed correctly, it had also spread to her lymph glands. In the past few months Hayes has undergone surgery and chemotherapy and is now receiving radiation treatments.

“We are a very small church and she has a very large deductible,” said congregation member Doug Reinhart, who is helping to organize fundraising efforts for his pastor through his Sunday school class. “The outpouring has been overwhelming.”

Reinhart said the entire 300-member church has gotten involved.

At a barbecue chicken dinner planned from noon to 1:30 p.m. Sept. 9, at the Waynesfield Lions Club, a winning raffle ticket for tickets to the Ohio State University and University of Michigan football game is to be pulled. Both are fundraisers for Hayes, who has continued throughout her treatments to preach from the pulpit each week as her health allows.

“We were trying to figure out a fundraiser to help out and this seems to be a good one,” Reinhart said.

Reinhart understands Hayes’ struggle and gets emotional talking about it.

“She’s the same age as my wife was when she had it and her kids are the same age ours were, too,” Reinhart said. “I went through this with my wife and now we want to help her.”

Hayes, who is in her mid-40s with three young children, has served as a great inspiration to the congregation she has served for more than seven years, Reinhart said.  

Raffle tickets are six for $5 with more than 6,000 sold to date. County engineers from around the state have joined Reinhart, who serves as the Auglaize County engineer, in his efforts to sell the tickets with many people who don’t live in the community or know Hayes helping her cause.

Reinhart said tickets, which also were donated by congregation member Doug Shaw, are to continue to be sold until the winning number is pulled Sept. 9.

Money raised is to help cover medical expenses Hayes has incurred.

“The surgery, the chemo, the gas to Indiana, it’s all been a lot on the family,” Reinhart said. “We really appreciate everyone’s support. It’s been an amazing couple months to see such an outpouring.”

While helping one of its own this time around, Reinhart said whether its a back-to-school supply drive, free community meals served to anyone from 5 to 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday from September to May at the church, or a “Noisy Bucket” fund which collects change to help those who need it with fuel bills, the little country church always does what it can to step up and help others under the leadership of Hayes.

“For a small congregation, we like to help out and we’ve sure stepped up and really tried to help out the best we can,” Reinhart said.