The Rev. Vance E. Haywood, Jr.
Rev. Vance E. Haywood, Jr. became the fifth pastor of St. John’s MCC in February 2018. Vance (no titles) is his preferred introduction. Vance was affiliated with the Church of God in his childhood through the age of 20. He stepped away from “the Church,” unable to reconcile whom he knew himself to be with the teaching about God being presented by others. Vance joined the Metropolitan Community Church movement in 2008 after experiencing God anew a few years earlier during a drag performance of a traditional gospel song by Taj Mahal (RIP) at Legends Night Club. If you ask Vance if he is religious, his answer will be an adamant: “Religion has been and is still a source of great pain and suffering. Jesus came to overturn harmful religious practices and simply offer life and love to hurting people in a hurting world. I see it as my call to do the same, as best I can, with God’s help.”
As Pastor, Vance also coordinates our Worship Experiences and Outreach into the Community.
Ministry of Congregational Care
Ministry of Hospitality/Fellowship
Ministry of Music
Ministry of Social Action and Justice
Rick first came to St. John’s MCC in 2001. He has been actively involved in several ministries over the years. He is currently involved in the fellowship and welcome ministries. He is also an active pastoral care minister. Rick has a passion for serving the community and those in need. He currently holds a position as the social justice coordinator for the community center at St. John’s MCC. In Rick’s spare time he loves traveling with his husband of 26 years and their three adopted children.
Ministry of Spiritual Growth
From the time he first came in the back door and tried to blend in next to the window in 1995, Jim Manchester knew that St. John’s MCC would become his spiritual home. A former Southern Baptist minister, he found himself involved in bible study, music ministry, and the small group ministry right away, and soon he began working on the website and other ministries. Jim now leads our Spiritual Development ministry, provides worship assistance, and still works on the website … keeping our community up to date.
Assistant to the Senior Pastor
Born and raised in Southern California, Eric relocated to North Carolina in 2009. Eric attended Johnston Community College and obtained an Associate’s Degree in Paralegal Technology in 2016. Currently, Eric is working on completing his Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from East Carolina University. He hopes to one day attend law school.
As a child, Eric’s family played an active role in the church. His father ran a food ministry, while Eric devotedly assisted with the church’s youth ministry.
In addition to working and studying, Eric is an avid DIYer. He also loves working in the yard and is very passionate about landscaping!
Worship Volunteer Coordinator
Audio Visual Team
When Jay walked into Willie White and Robert Pace’s apartment on Morgan Street in February 1976, he had no idea that this was the first step toward founding a new church congregation. But before the evening was over, he knew that Willie and Robert shared Jay’s sincere Christian faith despite being from very different faith backgrounds. And that diversity, beginning with doctrine and ethnicity, defined St. John’s MCC then and now as it is composed of many different denominational backgrounds and ethnicities. Jay served many years on the Board of Directors, as well as serving on numerous committees. He has represented St. John’s as Lay Delegate at many General Conferences over the years. An early passion was recording the worship services and making audio cassettes of services available to folks who could not attend or who wanted to take that particular experience with them. That passion continues today as he records audio as well as video for distribution and for archive purposes. And he still serves as Lay Delegate.
Mike Gauss has always had a deep personal relationship with God. While he found religious services and rituals beautiful, he did not connect to God in that way. Then, at the invitation of a friend in 2001, he showed up one Sunday evening at St. John’s MCC and felt God’s call to make serving here his avocation. Mike has served in a variety of roles focused on moving God’s vision for the church forward and shaping the experience of St. John’s for others. Mike is a private, behind the scenes type person who takes his work with the church very seriously. He currently serves as part of the AV team, sits on the board of COAH, is a regular volunteer with the community center, and helps maintain the facilities and equipment.