Prominent CBF pastor diagnosed with cancer

Guy Sayles, pastor of CBF-affiliated First Baptist Church in Asheville, N.C., announced Sunday he has multiple myeloma, an incurable but treatable cancer.

By Bob Allen

Guy Sayles, pastor of First Baptist Church in Asheville, N.C., has been diagnosed with cancer, he told members of the high-profile Cooperative Baptist Fellowship-affiliated congregation Feb. 2.

guy sayles“Over the last week or so, following an array of tests, I have learned that I have multiple myeloma, a cancer that, as best I understand it, is bound up with the bone marrow and the blood, causing blood cells to carry too much of an unhelpful protein,” Sayles read from a statement posted in part on his blog

“On this past Thursday, I learned that I will need to enter a season of assertive treatment, involving drug therapy here in Asheville and a stem-cell transplant at Duke [University],” Sayles said. “While there is currently no cure for this kind of cancer, there are many reasons to hope for a strong remission.”

Sayles, who came to First Baptist in 2001, previously served congregations in Georgia, Maryland, Texas and Missouri. Other prominent CBF pastorates include Kirkwood Baptist Church in St. Louis and Woodland Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas.

A graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with a D.Min. from Candler School of Theology of Emory University, Sayles is a past member of the CBF Coordinating Council. In 2004 he served on a task force to explore CBF participation in the Baptist World Alliance.

He spoke at the [Baptist] Conference on Sexuality and Covenant, co-sponsored by CBF and Mercer University in 2012, and at the annual Church Benefits Board luncheon at the CBF General Assembly in Greensboro, N.C., in 2013.

In 2010, he presided over the funeral of Cecil Sherman, the first CBF coordinator and a former pastor at First Baptist Church in Asheville. Last year Sayles was named co-chair of a committee charged with a “discernment process” about the future of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina to report in 2014.

Sayles said his only symptom is extreme fatigue, and he is curtailing activities such as answering individual e-mails. He set up a website at Caring Bridge, where he plans to post updates and receive messages.

He said his first appointment at Duke is Thursday, and he plans to work until his stem-cell transplant as his energy level permits.

“Pray that I will be wise and courageous — wise in decision-making about treatment and about my use of time and energy; courageous in my willingness to love and be loved,” Sayles said.  “I am not used to being in the position I am now in, so I get to learn many lessons about myself, about God, and about the mysteries of mercy and the power of weakness and about the joy of vulnerability.”

“I want to be curious, open, hopeful and humble,” he said. “I am on an adventure I didn’t expect would begin now. As I take this journey, I am sustained by my conviction that God does not cause our trouble and pain, but God loves us too much to waste them.”