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Rev. Peter L. Haynes, retired Church of the Brethren pastor, dies

The Rev. Peter L. Haynes was called to the Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren in Baltimore County in 1990 and served for 29 years before retiring.
The Rev. Peter L. Haynes was called to the Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren in Baltimore County in 1990 and served for 29 years before retiring.

The Rev. Peter L. Haynes, a retired Baltimore County Church of the Brethren pastor who composed music for worship, died of bone cancer May 6 at his Glen Arm home. He was 64.

Born in Bethesda, he was the son of Lawrence Haynes, a Department of Agriculture statistician, and his wife, Louise Haynes, a junior college teacher. He was a graduate of Turner Ashby High School in Bridgewater, Virginia, and earned a bachelor’s degree at Elizabethtown College.

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The Rev. Haynes, who grew up in the Baptist Church and Church of the Brethren, was a church camp counselor as a young man and often led singing groups on his guitar.

“My father’s going to the seminary was a natural outgrowth of his earlier activity,” said his son, Mitch Haynes of Boulder, Colorado.

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He spent a year volunteering in communities with Brethren Volunteer Services as a member of the youth peace travel team. He then received his religious education at Bethany Theological Seminary in Oak Brook, Illinois.

“He was a nonjudgmental person and would tell you he had his faults,” said one of his congregants, Gary Miller of Phoenix in Baltimore County. “He also had a creative nature and performed in church plays.”

He was licensed within the denomination in 1978 and ordained in 1985. He served at the Union Center Church of the Brethren in Indiana and at a congregation in Greencastle, Pennsylvania.

“He frequently ‘nudged’ youth and young adults into worship and leadership roles,” said his daughter, Caitlin Haynes of Seattle.

In 1990 he was called to the Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren in Baltimore County.

“He was affectionately known by his congregations as Pastor Pete and for his focus on music. He had a creative approach to worship,” said his wife, Melanie Jones Haynes. “He used drama, group participation and group readings. The congregation embraced his style.”

She also said: “He was there so long there were people he baptized and married. There were people he married and buried. He established long roots within families at Long Green Valley."

The Rev. Haynes served the Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren for 29 years and retired last year. He also spent 12 years as an adviser for the Mid-Atlantic District Church of the Brethren Youth.

“He was an excellent conversationalist and had a good sense of humor,” said Mike Hanna of Joppatowne. “He was an easygoing person who did his best to fit into any situation.”

Friends said he demonstrated musical leadership, told stories and created dramas in worship. He composed 48 original songs. Several were used around the denomination.

“I never remember him angry,” said Kay Kearns, a longtime church member who also played the organ. “Pete was so musical and was a part of so many church weddings and funerals. He also was attentive to persons in hospitals, and nursing homes. He liked to keep up with people."

The Rev. Haynes was involved in church summer camps and outdoor ministry, spending over 40 years working, volunteering and serving leadership roles at Church of the Brethren camps. He was involved with the Shepherd’s Springs Outdoor Ministry Center in Sharpsburg.

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“He shared his songs and music with the camp staff,” said Gail Hanna, also a member of his church.

“He was passionate about empowering and uplifting youth in ministry,” said his daughter.

The Rev. Haynes traveled to Nigeria and the Dominican Republic where he built relationships with congregations and did ministry work with them.

“He loved spending time in the outdoors, leading his family on camping expeditions in national parks all across the country,” his son said. “As a child, he participated in Boys Scouts and was a Scout leader for my brother and me.”

Friends recalled that he was always concerned about his congregants’ mental, physical and spiritual health.

Family members said that during his four-year battle with cancer, he was known for embracing a Viking warrior spirit that reflected his Scandinavian heritage. He was also a dedicated science fiction reader.

In addition to his son, daughter and wife of five years, a former pastor who is a child and family therapist, survivors include another son, Tyler Haynes of Baltimore; two other daughters, Tessa Haynes of Baltimore and Emma France of Los Angeles; and two sisters, Marilyn Macan of Kansas City, Kansas, and Beverly Fotovich of Kansas City, Missouri.

A celebration of life will be held at a later date.

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