Pastor Jack Hayford announced Tuesday that he will not seek a second term as president of The Foursquare Church despite all the support and encouragement he's received to move forward.
"I am not resigning," Hayford emphasized Tuesday after vowing to continue to "serve faithfully" and complete his term.
"Further, let me add that I am not retiring, nor am I withdrawing my availability and commitment to serve our church family in any way I may be asked," the Southern California pastor added.
Simply put, Hayford said the Lord had lifted his sense of "constraint to continue" – the same "inescapable sense of inner constraint" that convinced him to sign on as president of the Pentecostal denomination, which claims over 8 million members and adherents, nearly five years ago.
"He (the Lord) profoundly encountered me in a remarkable way – one very different but not dissimilar in its deep impact and clarity to the way He did five years ago when He pointedly pressed me to be available to serve this office," Hayford reported.
Prior to his election, Hayford was already nationally known as the founding pastor of the Church of the Way in Van Nuys, Calif., which began in 1969 with 18 members and grew into a 10,000-strong megachurch.
Hayford had also established himself as a popular evangelical writer and made ties with evangelical groups such as Campus Crusade for Christ and Promise Keepers, though his Pentecostal denomination traces its roots to a flamboyant faith healer whose life was riddled with controversy, including numerous lawsuits and a mysterious, monthlong disappearance.
When Hayford was elected to serve the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel as its president in June 2004, Hayford, then 69, became the fourth person to hold the title – the first being Foursquare founder Aimee Semple McPherson; the second being her only son, Rolf K. McPherson; and the third being the Rev. Paul Risser, who resigned in the wake of an investment scam.
From his election until now, Hayford has weathered The Foursquare Church through a number of challenges including, most recently, the financial challenges flowing from the global economic crisis
Hayford said his sense of duty to "see the financial storm through" as president was among the reasons for his "constraint to continue."
And so, in January, after having served as president for four-and-a-half years, Hayford presented a letter affirming his availability to continue as president and received the church cabinet's approval by "an overwhelming majority."
But over the weekend, after nearly two months of wrestling, it became clear to Hayford that he could no longer "confidently or comfortably envision a five-year commitment to so demanding a task."
"The pressures of the presidency are first, heavily spiritual and weighted in ways that can be appreciated only by those that hold the office. Second, they are laden with detail and threaded through with expectations that are, at once, both fulfilling to serve and wearisome," Hayford stated openly.
"I pastored a church with 10,000 members and a near $1-million-per-month budget, carried on a national television ministry and heavy conference speaking and writing schedule for years. The burden of the presidency is not less than that," he added. "But I was younger in those days, and I was younger when I began this office."
Though the Pentecostal pastor said he is still graced with strength, good health, and reasonable stamina, Hayford said God helped him realize that commitment to a full five-year mission as president would be "unwise" for him to attempt "with all else that is before me at this point in life."
"He (God) has indicated that my sense of constraint to continue was, at this time, a bond to a noble sense of duty-not to His assignment. So I surrender to the refinement of His directive and stand ready to serve in whatever ways He has in mind, and in any way He directs involving you, my brothers and sisters," concluded Hayford, whose announcement was made during The Foursquare Church's convention in Anaheim, Calif., on Tuesday, just 30 days before his 75th birthday.
According to The Foursquare Church, the denomination's board of directors met as soon as it was notified of Hayford's decision and determined that the presidential nominee selection process can be completed by the next regular convention.
The board has also appointed an interim president, whose name will be announced to the denomination's ministers and congregations after the board has worked out the remaining details.
At the next convention, a vote will be conducted to select a president.