Members of the congregation gathered to celebrate with a turkey and ham dinner in the church’s gymnasium followed Sunday morning with special services last month. Five of the seven pastors who have shepherded the Lighthouse flock attended. Founding pastor Gordon Hadley, who is 101, was not able to make the trip to Harbor for the celebration.
If the Hadley name sounds familiar to people familiar with the congregation, this is because Gordon Hadley is the uncle of Richard Hadley, who has served as pastor of the church longer than any other – half of the church’s 50-year history.Richard Hadley, who retired in 2003 but still a member of the congregation, was instrumental in gathering information about the history of the church. The story of the birth of Lighthouse Assembly of God was taken in part from the memoirs of Jessie Hadley, Gordon’s wife, who helped pioneer the church in 1959 and, together, served as pastors until 1964.
According to Jessie’s memoirs, “Before we left Shady Cove, where we were pastoring in 1959, we felt that God wanted us to start a work in Harbor. There was a large community of people, but no church in Harbor. Some of them were praying for a church in Harbor.”
The Hadley’s moved to Harbor in July 1959 and attended church in Smith River, Calif., along with other members of the Hadley family. The family was concerned that the pastor of the church in Smith River might feel they may take away members of that congregation and, for a time, kept their plans quiet. However, the Hadley’s soon shared their plans not only with the Smith River church, but also the Assembly of God church in Brookings. The pastors of both congregations agreed a church was needed in Harbor.
“We bought 3 acres of ground on Highway 101, one and one half miles south of the Chetco River. (Oregon District Superintendent N.D.) Davidson and the presbyter came to see us. … They visited (the Brookings church) first then came to our house. They told us to go ahead with a church in Harbor,” Jessie Hadley wrote in in her memoirs. However, they asked the Hadleys not put the Assembly of God name on it. “We told them we planned to call it Harbor Gospel Lighthouse.”
“We started services (in September 1959) in Glenn and Clytie Hadley’s house and we enjoyed having a home church again.” This was the third church Gordon and Jessie Hadley had started from home meetings.
Soon a small church building was constructed and two years later, the church officially became a member of the Assemblies of God.
In 1964, Gordon Hadley retired and Ron and Shirley Keyser became pastors. It was during the Keysers’ tenure that a new auditorium and Sunday school rooms were constructed. The building, in use today, was completed in 1966. The original pews, pulpit and altars were made by Glenn and Clytie Hadley. In 1969, the Keysers also constructed the parsonage next to the church building.
The Keysers served as pastors of the Harbor church until 1971. That year, Dick Hattan took over as pastor, but his tenure was short lived and he was replaced by Ed and Bonnie Weyrick. The Weyricks remained in Harbor until 1975.
John and Dottie Hawthorne took over pastoring Lighthouse Assembly of God until 1978. It was while the Hawthornes were pastoring the church that it recorded its highest ever Sunday-morning worship attendance – 173. Because of the growth, three new classrooms were added to the building. He also began the bus ministry at the church.
John Hawthorne, previously hosted Bible radio shows in Los Angeles and Bend, never gave up preaching over the radio while in Harbor. A huge citizen band radio antenna was installed atop the parsonage roof, giving his CB radio one of the strongest signals on the coast. According to Richard Hadley, “Pastor John would talk to fishermen, cyclists and anyone who would listen.”
In 1978, leadership at Lighthouse Assembly of God returned to the Hadley family when Richard Hadley became pastor. While the church was under Richard and Linda Hadley’s leadership, many changes to the building took place, including the construction of a new gymnasium in 1999 and, later, a kitchen and more space added, which joined the gym to the original building. All of this new construction took place all the while making the church debt free. A new Christian school also began at the church.
During Hadley’s ministry, Lighthouse entertained the idea of a merger with Calvary Assembly of God in Brookings with the idea of hiring a youth pastor, but during the next membership meeting, the merger was overwhelmingly voted down. According to Hadley, the Oregon District of the Assemblies of God also preferred the community continue to have two congregations.
Pastor Hadley retired in 2003 and the congregation chose to hire a younger pastor who could relate to the younger generation and, who had computer and multimedia skills, because of the influx of young adults. Chosen for the job was Jim Schultz, who along with his wife, Kari, are the current pastors of the church.