Pastor Mike Ray was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1957. That was the year Billy Reed founded the Central Baptist Church, an independent soul winning church. Members of the church invited the Ray family to attend. They all did…except the dad who four years later became a Christian. Mike accepted Christ as his Savior on February 23, 1970, the first week Bob Smith (the new pastor) preached. Three years later at Pot O’ Gold Teen Camp in Comfort, Texas, Mike surrendered to preach the Gospel and began doing so at age 16 in Sunday School, rest homes, and churches. Mike eventually captained his own bus route after attending Bible College for a year in Arlington, Texas, he earned two degrees in Hammond, Indiana at the Hyles-Anderson College where he met his future wife, Verna Weymouth (from Maine).
Upon graduation he accepted the position of Youth Pastor at his home church under Pastor B.G. Buchanan. He began public school ministries, Fellowship of Christian Athlete chapters, the Deep South Youth Conference, and even published several books and a game while there. His first two children, Charity and Faith, were born while in Louisiana.
In 1986, at the age of 29, the Rays headed to California to assume the pastorate of Hopewell Baptist Church in Napa, CA. The girls flew while Mike moved their belongings on an old church bus (remember the Beverly Hillbillies?). The miracle is the bus made it to California after 42 hours!
Visiting 34 hours a week the first year, the new pastor was determined to knock every door personally- it took four years to do so. Visitors began coming and many attendees began coming even from surrounding areas- Vallejo, Cordelia, Concord, Sonoma, Santa Rosa, Vacaville, Fairfield and Rodeo. God later blessed the Rays with three sons: Jonathan, Paul and Stephen.
Currently, Pastor is a frequent speaker at teen camps and conferences, Bible conferences and Christian colleges. He also teaches one day a week at Golden State Baptist College in Santa Clara, CA. Pastor is a regular customer at Starbucks where he drinks a tall black coffee of the day with ½ and ½ and 3 sweet and lows. When time allows, he has been known to go back to Louisiana to enjoy seafood and go on alligator hunts and on occasion to Cabo to fish. He loves to fish! He roots for the New Orleans Saints and is still flying high over their miraculous Super Bowl victory. His favorite song is, “When the Saints go marching In.” Pastor is an avid reader, averaging a book a week.
Verna, his wife, loves to spend time with her grandchildren, since they now have an empty nest. Being from Maine, she loves to eat “lob-stah” when she is able to go back for a visit. She is also a frequent speaker at mother-daughter banquets and also marriage seminars with her husband. She could not be more proud of their children. Both daughters are youth pastor’s wives and all three sons are graduates of Bible colleges where they trained for ministry. Mike and Verna have been married for 36 years! If it’s God’s will, they plan on staying in Napa…until the Lord returns.