“If you want to know what I’m going to talk about, you have to come to church,” he said.
He reveals a bit more about what he’ll talk about starting Oct. 28, when he begins a series of sermons called “Living the SWEET Life.” Mayo said SWEET is an acronym about the five-fold purpose of life, but, again, you’ll have to come to church to find out what it stands for.
“It answers the question, ‘Why in the world did God put me in Marietta, Ga.?’” Mayo said.
Mayo ended up in Marietta after an 18-month search process that started after Dr. Sam Henderson announced he was stepping down in June 2010. Mayo served the previous eight years as senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Greenwood in South Carolina.
“The search committee that called me were all great folks,” Mayo said. “I believe that to be a reflection of the congregation at large. If that’s so, than this is a great church full of talented and gifted people who are loving and caring.”
Dr. Bob Harper, who led the nine-member search committee, said that Mayo stood out from the nearly 200 people who initially applied for the senior pastor position.
“We are looking for sermons that are biblically based, Christ centered, that will inspire the listener to take the message from the church out into their own personal life, where it truly makes a difference to them and those around them,” Harper said.
Mayo said congregants can also expect to hear stories in his sermons.
“Those methods did not originate with me,” he said. “Jesus told a lot of parables when he taught.”
Before deciding what direction to take the church in, Mayo plans to discuss the vision God has for the congregation of 2,300 with church leaders.
“Let them be able to foster an atmosphere where that becomes a shared vision of the entire church,” he said. “Obviously, we’d like to implement that vision.”
Mayo has been a pastor for 22 years. Before going to Greenwood, he was senior pastor at Canonsburg Presbyterian Church near Pittsburgh. Prior to that, he was associate youth pastor at Southminster Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh and taught as an adjunct professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.
Mayo was raised in Virginia and North Carolina. He was educated at Emmanuel College, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and the University of Pittsburgh.
“I’ve had the privilege of being part of some great churches through the years, and I feel First Presbyterian Church of Marietta is another great church, and we feel honored to be a part of it,” he said.
Mayo gave his last sermon in Greenwood on Sept. 23. He has spent the past month preparing for the move — his wife, Loretta, is still in South Carolina finalizing things. The pair will live in an apartment near the church, located at 189 Church St. just north of the Square, until they find a permanent residence.
“Loretta says we’re leaving a great church and coming to a great church, kind of like going to a wedding and a funeral at the same time,” he said.
Dr. Mayo added that youngest daughter, Lindsay, who recently graduated college, will join them. Their other daughter, Becky, is director of the children’s ministry at a Presbyterian church in Spartanburg, S.C.
Mayo is looking for a good golf course to play in his new hometown. He also enjoys spending time with his family, reading and travelling. Among his favorite places to visit are Scotland and the Canadian Rocky Mountains.