As the PCA and the Relief Fund celebrate 50 years of God’s faithfulness, we are sharing stories of ministry families impacted through gifts to the Relief Fund.
Rev. Bill Hughes may be officially retired but at age 84, he continues to preach weekly. Every Sunday, he makes the hour-long drive from his home near Jackson, Mississippi to Carthage where he’s serving a small congregation without a pastor. He insists, “As long as health permits, I’m going to do it until I can’t physically do it anymore.” During his forty-four years as a minister, Bill Hughes would encourage his congregations to generously support retired pastors and their widows through the Relief Fund’s Christmas offering. Now, during his retirement, he is one of dozens of pastors and widows receiving monthly support through the Relief Fund.
As a college student, Bill came to know Jesus Christ in a saving way and became his lifelong disciple. It was then he met his wife Mary Ann, to whom he remains happily married.
After completing seminary, his first call led him to Indianola, Mississippi in 1965. Five years later, he accepted the opportunity to serve as assistant pastor at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Montgomery under the ministry of Dr. Robert Strong. Bill presided over the congregational meeting when they voted to withdraw from their denomination in order to join the newly formed Presbyterian Church in America.
Once Dr. Strong retired, Bill accepted the opportunity to serve as the minister of First Presbyterian Church in Yazoo, Mississippi. After twelve years, he was persuaded by Jim Baird to serve as executive minister at the First Presbyterian Church in Jackson. He served in the role for twenty-three years before retiring in 2009.
A decade into retirement, Bill found himself in a situation not uncommon for retired ministers. He realized that his lifespan was going to outlast his retirement funds and that there was a shortfall between his retirement income and his basic expenses. “I didn’t save as much as I needed to or as early as I needed to,” Bill admits. Today, Bill and Mary Ann depend on income from preaching, social security, and the Relief Fund to pay their living expenses.
Serving as a supply preacher to churches in rural towns helped Bill provide for his family in his earliest years of ministry and now continues to do so in his later years. While a seminary student in the 1960s at Columbia Theological Seminary, Bill would drive every weekend from Atlanta to Choctaw County, Mississippi where he served as pulpit supply for three churches. One congregation met at 8:30 a.m., the next met at 11:00 a.m., and the third met at 6:00 p.m. Once his preaching duties were concluded, he would drive back to Atlanta for another week of classes.
Bill continues to preach not merely out of financial necessity but also out of a sense of calling. He’s quick to tell you, “It’s my joy and delight. I’m preparing a new series on First Thessalonians.” He’s also quick to tell you, “Please convey my deep appreciation to the church and donors who support the Relief Fund.”
Your gifts to the Relief Fund enable couples like Bill and Mary Ann Hughes to enjoy basic necessities in their retirement years. We are thankful for the many years Bill Hughes served as a champion in his church to raise support for ministers and widows in need. Now, we are honored to serve him even as he continues to use his gifts in serving the church.
Gifts to the Relief Fund directly benefits pastors, like Bill, who have outlived their retirement savings and need assistance to cover everyday expenses. Would you join us in supporting the faithful servants of the PCA through every season of ministry?
Geneva Benefits Group serves those who serve others, providing practical support for the financial, physical, and mental wellbeing of people who work in full-time ministry.