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Nov 2007 - Temple Hayes

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Moxy or (Moxie) Women refers to women who demonstrate courage and/or bravery to go for their dreams!

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Your dreams are waiting on you to come true.
When we become authentic and true to ourselves,
We create the ultimate invitation for our good to come to us.
-Temple Hayes


A Difference to Make...
by:  Jean Harper

Growing up in a Southern Baptist home, Temple Hayes knew she was different.  It takes "Moxy" to challenge the accepted ways of a small southern town.... Temple Hayes has Moxy!

On October 9 2007 I arrived at the First Unity Church and Campus in St. Petersburg, FL to interview the Reverend Temple Hayes. As soon as we sat down and I produced my digital recorder, Temple began to sing into it, which lightened things up for me and got us both laughing.  Her office is warm and comfortable, filled with things that have meaning to her.  She led us in a prayer of connection for the interview, and then we began

One Sunday morning, I asked Temple Hayes how tall she is and without hesitation she replied that she was 6'2".  I laughed at her joke, but it reminded me of the first time that I heard her speak.  As she walked up the few short steps to the platform in the sanctuary at First Unity Church in St. Petersburg, FL, looking flawless in her deep red suit, she turned as she reached the top and paused while surveying every face in the room.  As the room fell silent she began to speak; her calm, confident and smooth voice fTemple_Sanct_Red_Jacket.jpgilled the room.  The Reverend Temple Hayes is only 5'5", but on that day - and every day that I have heard her speak - she could have passed for 6'2". Temple is an exceptional speaker and motivator.  In her presence you can feel a connection.  She occasionally checks in with the group while speaking with a "Do you know what I mean, are you with me?" and gets the feedback that she needs to stay connected.

On Sunday mornings, before her congregation arrives, you will find Temple walking around the sanctuary, a practice that started when she played softball as a young girl.  "Walking the field", as she refers to it, helped Temple mentally to convert a large field into a much smaller one, thus helping her succeed at hitting the ball out of the park.  She would start at the outside perimeter and walk the field, making it smaller and smaller.  This worked for her as she was one of the best softball players around, and it works for her today when she speaks to a large group.

During my interview with Temple I asked her if she had participated in "Toastmasters" or been formally trained in public speaking.  She told me that she had never had any formal training but always believed that if you speak from your heart and talk to people as if you are having a conversation with them, individually, you don't need to be formally trained.  She is relaxed and truly herself when she stands before her congregation and delivers her message; she hits the ball right out of the park, every time.




Temple Ann Hayes was named after her grandfather, John Temple Hayes, and was born into an affluent family in Anderson, S.C. She lived on Hayes Road, also named after her grandfather.  According to Temple her grandfather was an entrepreneur and a visionary and she learned a great deal from him about business.  Temple has two brothers but no sisters and her mother still lives in Anderson.

John Temple Hayes would be proud of his granddaughter today.  I spoke briefly with Unity Church volunteer Ann Parrish, who was eager to point out how difficult her job has Temple_Ann.jpgbecome since Temple became the Minister at Unity: "Temple has packed the house!" she exclaimed.  "We have to pull out chairs and put people in the lobby".  The membership has increased from 380 to 700+ and is still growing.

(Ann Parrish- photo left) 

Elizabeth Watts, Music Ministry Worship Leader and Soloist at First Unity, described Temple this way: "I love her energy. Temple has a vivacious and positive energy blend, people are noticing the growth and it feels like we are moving in a positive direction. She is amazing." 

 (Elizabeth Watts- photo below- rt)


As a child Temple was very inquisitive; she describes herself as an "Indigo Child".  Indigo Children is a term used within the New Thought movement to refer to children who are gifted. The Indigo child concept was first publicized in the 1982 book "Understanding Your Life Through Color," by Nancy Ann Tappe. Today, she estimates that 97 percent of children under ten and 70 percent of 15 to 25 year olds are "Indigo." ( Source: Wikipedia ) The idea of Indigo children was popularized by the 1999 book The Indigo Children: The New Kids Have Arrived, written by the husband-and-wife team of Lee Carroll and Jan Tober.

Temple knew from an early age that she had a "calling" to be a Minister.  Being female and raised as a Southern Baptist; that was a daring goal.  Women were not allowed as ministers or in leadership roles at that time and she would ask her mother why.  She had many conversations with her mother on this topic.

Temple had a close relationship with animals and a love for nature.  She often brought animals home with her, and she felt a deep appreciation for life. Her mother and father acknowledged her desire to help animals and would ask, "What has Temple brought home to save today?". Sometimes the response would be, "What's that? - and whatever it is, it's not coming in the house!" 

Temple with Sir Digby and Major Spencer (above)
Photography by Josh Possick

Early on she got a sense that people thought that they were powerless or would give away their power.  She observed a loss of "zest" in many of the people around her while working in her grandfather's grocery store.  She saw people aging and weak and she wanted to change that.  This inquisitive child would question her mother about why this was happening and her mother came to believe that Temple was meant to make a difference in people's lives. Temple wanted to make a difference and help people to realize that they are not powerless.

She started playing softball at the age of 10.  She was a pitcher and played short field and 3rd base.  She played softball for 17 years, first for recreation and then on a corporate team, where she had a batting average of .686 and was nominated as an All-American. She was elected to the National Softball Hall of Fame in 1979.

Temple may be classified as an outstanding achiever as she has received many nominations and awards including: Outstanding Young Women of America(1988), the International Who's Who of American Professionals (1997), and the American Biographical Institute for Great Women of the 21st Century (2006). A gifted child, in high school she was the classic overachiever in the acceptable areas - she played the guitar and French horn, participated in the band and was a cheerleader. .  In Junior High she was asked to read the Bible in class and offered a metaphysical interpretation of her readings.  This overachieving young girl was  an underachiever in the acceptable behaviors of her southern Baptist community as it was considered strange to question areas that she wanted to understand more fully, such as religion. 

Temple_hands.jpgTemple brings a unique combination of skills and knowledge to her ministry; she served in the Army for 3 years, worked in the corporate world, has sales and training expertise and an inimitable ability to communicate her message and resonate with her audience. Her experience with her entrepreneurial grandfather taught her early on in her life that she could do anything she set her mind to.  Her grandfather was a visionary and was able to evolve with the business environment of his time.  He started in farming and moved to owning a grocery store and then transitioned into the tire and auto business.  Temple learned to change tires at her grandfather's tire store and; typically, excelled as one of the fastest tire-changers around. At 11 and 12 she could change tires faster than anyone in town, a big deal in this small community.  One of Temple's major accomplishments in the corporate world was with Michelin Tire Corporation, a French company which opened its U.S. offices and plant in Greenville, S.C. She decided that she would apply for a position in R&D.  During the job interview, as a young woman knowing nothing of limitations, she was asked about her qualifications; she proudly announced that she had been working in her grandfather's tire store and was amazing at changing tires.  She could lift tires over her head and could handle them well. She sold them on her relationship with tires, got a job and went from an entry position to a position in R&D working with the company from 1977-1983.  Wanting more, Temple then enlisted in the Army as a reservist and worked with several other firms before she finally answered her calling to become a minister.  She was first introduced to New Thought 28 years ago in a small Unity Church in Greenville, S.C.  She moved to Florida in 1986 and first became a minister with the Church of Religious Science.

Temple_with_book.jpgFrom 1991 to 2003, Temple embarked on a teaching and public speaking career.  She traveled the country and United Kingdom as an international motivational speaker.  During this same period she was a Church of Religious Science minister serving in various churches in Stuart, West Palm Beach, Sarasota and St. Petersburg.  She has helped to empower tens of thousands of people over the last 17 years in churches, corporations, hospitals and businesses.  As a featured keynote speaker Temple has lectured on many topics such as: Healing Substance Abuse, Recovery, Presenting with Confidence and Power, and Principles of Empowerment.

Temple became an ordained minister of First Unity in March of 2007 and is now the CEO of First Unity Campus in St. Petersburg, replacing the Reverend Alan Rowbotham, who hand-picked her as his successor.  She was first chosen to work with the Reverend Rowbotham as assistant minister in preparation for her to take over as minister after his retirement.






Photo (above) by Josh Possick

View Video Clip below of Temple's ordination

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The congregation of the First Unity Church in St. Petersburg knows that their minister started drinking alcohol when she was only 14 years old.  From the age of 16 to 29, Temple drank and partied heavily.  Her close friends began to tell her that she had a problem.  After several car accidents she was beginning to realize that she did have a problem.  In September 1987, at the age of 29, she stopped drinking.  Awakening her in the middle of the night a voice said, "If you want to live, don't ever drink again" and 20 years later she is still sober. This voice- the same voice that she would hear many more times- saved her life.  This life experience brings compassion and wisdom to her ministry.

Sanctuary- packed with people- overflow in lobby (above)

As a woman, Temple Hayes loves nature, honors life and has a reputation - don't kill bugs or lizards or anything else around her.  Temple loves children and appears child-like with them.  Like most women she also loves to shop and loves antiques.  She loves the smells of antiques which bring back fond memories from the past and of her grandparents.

When I asked Temple about the mentors in her life she told me that her high school teacher and coach, Johanna McMullen or "Cookie" as she was known, had a positive influence on her life.  Another influential person in her life was Beverly Alberstadt, a First Unity Teacher who died at 40 of a brain tumor.  She also enjoys "Tuesdays with Morrie," a bestselling non-fiction book by American writer Mitch Albom.  Her confidant is her Shaman Teacher - she spent years of Shamanic studies with her - but she describes her real mentor as "The God within".

Temple in front of the bay- downtown St. Petersburg during Easter Sunrise Service (above)

Temple has a vision for herself and her church in the next 5 years.  She sees Unity as one of the largest churches in the nation with resources, a teaching center, and Unity TV.  She would like for every man, woman and child to know the Unity message. In one sentence she describes that message as: "Welcome all faiths, all walks of life, what we all have in common is something greater than ourselves".


On March 29, 2007- USA Today's Life Section published a story about "New Thought" churches and interviewed Temple.  The story, entitled "Secret History of ‘The Secret',"  points out that self-fulfillment via the power of the mind is nothing new to followers of the 700 - 100,000 member Unity Churches in the U.S. In this article Temple is quoted as saying, "we teach people how to think, not what to think".  Temple has been profiled and interviewed dozens of times since she became a minister in 1991.  I expect there will be more interviews in the future.

"The Power of Vision," a graphic depiction of First Unity, St. Petersburg was completed by Ami and Michael Bowen of Bowen Imagery and Design. This hangs in the sanctuary at First Unity.  See below.



The Wings bookstore was moved from inside the church to a separate location on 4th Street in St. Petersburg and has become a very successful venture under Temple's leadership and the management of Sharon Jebens..  Temple surrounds herself with good people and empowers them to be the best that they can be.  She is full of praise for Sharon with regards to the success of the bookstore.

Church services at First Unity start with incredible musical performances by musicians such as New Thought artist Peter Kater, and singer/songwriters  Faith Rivera and Mindy Simmons to name but a few.  Guest performers, as well as world-renowned authors and lecturers, come from all over the nation.

Elizabeth Watts- Solist- performing.  Stained glass piece hangs in clear view (above)

In closing, I must say that I have been moved by meeting Temple Hayes and the opportunity to interview her and share her story with you.  I am proud to add the "Moxy Woman" Award to her many accomplishments.

For more details on programs at First Unity Campus go to:  
460 46th Ave. North
St. Petersburg, FL   33703

Unity Churches are all across the nation; for your closest location go to:   http://www.unity.org

To learn more about the Reverend Temple Hayes you can visit her website at:  www.templehayes.com

Temple greets with a hug- all that wish to speak with her.

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