Dawn Mayes: the Newest Minister at the Oldest Church in Town

By Elizabeth Matthews
Rev. Dawn Mayes

Reverend Dawn Mayes has recently assumed the role of pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Fernandina Beach, bringing with her a deep-rooted passion for ministry and a profound love for the congregation and community she serves.

Having relocated from Northern Virginia in August 2022, Rev. Mayes embarked on this new chapter, ready to make a lasting impact on the lives of the people of Fernandina Beach.

Her calling to ministry was sparked during her studies in biblical literature at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, which led to  a Master of Divinity degree from Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. She has dedicated an impressive 28 years of her life to the service of others. Her primary goal is to share God’s love with individuals of all ages and stages of life.

Her life of service seems to be the perfect partnership with this church. First Presbyterian, the oldest church on Amelia Island, has a rich history that spans back to its establishment in 1858.

This institution has stood the test of time, remaining faithful and steadfast through numerous challenges, including two pandemics. It has served during times of crisis. For example, after the Civil War, the church transformed into a hospice, solidifying its commitment to caring for the well-being of the community.

The heart of the church lies in its devotion to the community through various acts of service. The congregation actively engages with organizations such as the Barnabas Center and the Council on Aging, and partakes in missions to Haiti and Cuba. This commitment to community ministry reflects their belief that faith is not confined to the walls of a church, but rather finds its greatest expression in reaching out to those in need.

Another of their community-focused initiatives is the annual opening of the Anchor Youth building during Shrimp Fest. This provides a respite from the summer heat and offers refreshments to festival-goers.

Looking ahead, the church has several upcoming events and missions planned, including vacation Bible school, scheduled for June 12-16 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Additionally, the church has organized youth mission trips to North and South Carolina, offering young members of the congregation opportunities to serve.

Rev. Mayes expresses how thankful she is to the people and other churches in the area for the warm welcome extended to her and her husband, Joseph.

Her goal is to share the church’s core values: inclusivity, openness and acceptance. She believes the church is called to find new and fresh ways to share God’s love and reach people in the community and beyond.

Rev. Mayes says, “We are inclusive, and we want everyone to know that all are welcome to come.” Rev. Mayes brings her extensive ministry experience and genuine love for people to her role as the new pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Fernandina Beach.

With a heart for community outreach, she is poised to guide the congregation in fostering inclusivity and encouraging acts of service.

Don’t be surprised if you run into Rev. Mayes and Joseph walking downtown with their golden retriever, Jackson. Feel free to stop and say hello!

First Presbyterian Church of Fernandina Beach is at 9 N. Sixth St., and services are held on Sundays at 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.

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Noble Member
1 year ago

1Timothy 2:12

Stephen Ross
Stephen Ross (@guest_69860)
1 year ago

Memorial United Methodist Church is older than First Presbyterian with it being established in 1822, so First Presbyterian can’t be the oldest if it was established in 1858.

Sister Sue
Sister Sue(@szthammyahoo-com)
1 year ago

First Presbyterian is the oldest church BUILDING in today’s Fernandina. The Roman Catholic Church began during the Spnish period in Old Town, making it the first and oldest faith presence in Fernandina.