Longest-serving pastor in Paterson, 91, honored with key to the city

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ByToni Yates via WABC logo
Monday, October 3, 2022
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For 51 years, Pastor Mary Bailey has led her flock at the Holy House of Prayer in Paterson, New Jersey. Toni Yates has the story.

PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- One woman has proven her dedication to her community for more than five decades. The longest-serving pastor in Paterson was honored on Monday and given the key to the city.

For 51 years, Pastor Mary Bailey has led her flock at the Holy House of Prayer in Paterson.

"I've been with her since I was a little girl and I'm so overwhelmed to be here, this is history," said church member Carmen Bailey.

At 91 years old, Bailey is the longest-serving pastor in Paterson.

"I thank God that you think of me this way, and I promise that I will not disappoint you," said Bailey.

Bailey is looked after by her son.

"I'm very honored that she's my mom and I tell you that sometimes it hits you right here, I feel full," said Nathaniel Bailey.

He says her faith has remained her focus, even after losing her husband and her only daughter to cancer.

Her congregation is part of her caring family, some even came to City Hall to see her accept her third key to the city.

"She served as pastor and I believe she is also the oldest living bishop in the city of Paterson," said the mayor of Paterson, Andre Sayegh.

Her advice never diverts from spiritual healing.

"Serve the Lord while you have a chance...because we never know how long we will be on this Earth," said Bailey.

ALSO READ | How Mayor Adams plans to deal with NYC mental health crisis

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