Our Pastor & First Lady
Rev. Dr. Samuel L. Hayes Jr., D. Min.
Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Samuel enlisted in the United States Air Force at seventeen, serving Honorably and retiring after twenty-five years of Meritorious active Service as a decorated Combat Veteran in aircraft maintenance. Completed his academic endeavors while serving our nation at Southern Illinois University with a degree in Work Force Education. He further pursued university training to complete a master’s degree in Divinity (MDiv) from New Brunswick Theological Seminary. Samuel acknowledged his call into public ministry in 1995 and completed all institutional requirements of the African Methodist Episcopal Church for final ordination as an Itinerant Elder in 2007. He has served as pastor of four churches across the State of New Jersey, renovating the infrastructure and challenging the congregants to grow spiritually under his appointment. He has served as a hospice chaplain and as a chaplain for Pemberton Township Police Department. Samuel also performed a vital role in supporting and changing young lives within the New Jersey Department of Military and Veteran’s Affairs at the Nationally sponsored Youth Challenge Academy for At-Risk Youth. While assigned, he rose to the position of Academy Director. He led the way to reclaim thousands of young people's lives, giving hope to communities and families in the Northeast region of the United States. He is serving his fourth charge as the Pastor of Friendship AME Church Browns Mills and as a Strategic Initiatives Officer for the State of New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Rev. Hayes received his Doctoral Degree (D.Min.) from New Brunswick Theological Seminary in May 2023. He and his wife, First Lady; Licentiate Donna Hayes, are very proud of their wonderful adult children; Samuel III; KaiLoni, Arianna; bonus son Maurice Tyndell and their loyal, devoted family pet canine, Rock.
First Lady Donna Hayes
Licentiate/ Christian Education Director
First Lady Donna Hayes is a native of East Orange, New Jersey. She pursued her passion and received her Cosmetology License from Concord School of Hair Design in Bloomfield, NJ. Lady Donna worked for Celebrity Hairstylist Elgin Charles in Beverly Hills, California, and has been a widely sought Hairstylist by many, including celebrities such as Queen Latifah, Rita Owens, Gospel artists Kierra “KeKe” Sheard, CoCo of SWV, Justine Simmons, and the cast of Run’s House; she has traveled the country as the key stylist for her sister Deborah Tillman the star of Lifetime Television’s America’s Supernanny. Her work has been featured in numerous publications, including Black Hair and the Diva Zone Magazines. Lady Donna successfully owned and operated Creative Illusions Hair Salon in West Orange, NJ, and Evolutions Hair Studio in Browns Mills. She has since retired from cosmetology.
In 2005, Lady Donna heard the voice of God call her to declare His Word. She answered the call and preached her trial sermon at Allen AME Church in Atlantic City, New Jersey, which she entitled, “I know you hear me but are you listening.” Lady Donna has a tremendous passion for God’s Word, coupled with a love for God’s people. She is the First Lady of Friendship AME Church in Browns Mills, New Jersey, where she stands beside her loving and supportive husband, Rev. Samuel L. Hayes Jr., faithfully serving God and ministering to the growing flock of the church. On April 15, 2012, Lady Donna was certified and appointed Evangelist of the New Jersey Annual Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church under the hand of Bishop Richard Franklin Norris. She is currently a student at New Brunswick Theological Seminary and a licentiate in the New Jersey Ministerial Institute pursuing ordination in local ministry.
Licentiate Donna has a heart for women. God is using her to encourage, equip and empower them to reach their fullest potential in Christ Jesus. It is her desire that the women of God humbly seek Him to understand their true purpose in life and begin to see themselves through the eyes of Christ.
Licentiate Donna is a dynamically powerful preacher who teaches Church School with passion and fervor. She hosts the Inspired Purpose Talk Show on the YouTube Channel of the same name, the Jesus Lovin' Jersey Girl Co-Host of A Conversation with Pastor Sam which airs live on Wednesdays at 6:00 pm on the YouTube Channel Pastor Sam Friendship AME Church. Donna is the Creator and Host of The Beautiful Beyond Measure Women’s Conference, and founder of My Husband’s Crown, a ministry to help wives desiring a godly principled marriage affirm their noble character through scriptural understanding and the founder/creator of the Jesus Lovin' Jersey Girl Brand. Licentiate Donna is a Board Member of Brooks Media Group and an Overseer of the Diva Zone brand. One of her favorite scriptures is Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy path.”
Licentiate Donna’s greatest joy and accomplishment is her family. She and her husband are the proud parents of three children, Samuel III, KaiLoni, and Arianna, and one fur baby named Rock. This dynamic ministry family currently resides in Browns Mills, New Jersey, where they stand as living testaments of the amazing things God can do when we surrender our lives to Him.
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Pastor Sam & Lic. Donna Hayes
Pastor & Lady Donna were appointed to Friendship AME Church with a Spiritual Vision to fulfill the Great Commission by making Disciples for Jesus Christ. Their focus is centered on loving God and loving people.
Their Motto is: "We Will Never Ask You To Do Something We Are Not Willing To Do Ourselves."