Lighthouse Wesleyan to celebrate its history

JERSEY SHORE — Lighthouse Wesleyan Church will celebrate its 50th anniversary of worship on the top of the hill at High Street. The celebration will be held Sunday, Oct. 8, exactly 50 years from the day of the original dedication in 1967.

However, the history of the church actually begins in September 1940 when Grace (Gram) Hackett and Rev. D.T. McCracken began holding meetings at the mission in Stavertown. Gram Hackett would go door to door inviting people to church. Sometimes there would only be the reverend and herself at the service, but they never gave up.

When Rev. McCracken was called away, Rev. Leonard Leitzel came and continued the ministry until July 30, 1941. But from that July until April 1942, no services were held.

Rev. Kresge and his wife, from Lock Haven, came to Jersey Shore and began holding cottage prayer meetings with the small group, which led to holding services in the Vilas Park school house starting Oct. 4, 1942. The first Sunday school was held May 9, 1943.

This led to the organization of the Jersey Shore Pilgrim Holiness Church on Saturday, May 13, 1945. Rev. Harold Crosser was called as pastor at that time.

Worship continued at the Vilas Park site for the next 20 years. In 1966, the congregation received the news that “progress” would take their church for the new Jersey Shore bypass. The final service in the Vilas Park church was in late March 1966, after which the church was demolished for the highway.

Under the leadership of Rev. John Garver, the congregation bought property at 220 High St., Jersey Shore (the highest elevation in town), just up the hill from the Vilas Park location, to build a new place of worship. Until the church was completed, the congregation temporarily worshipped in the Avis Grange, west of Pine Creek.

Construction of the new church building began in April 1967 and was completed August 21 of that year. During construction, when only the frame was standing, a storm with strong winds knocked the frame down, causing construction to begin again.

The contractor for the new building was Clarence H. Bauder of Williamsport.

The service of dedication for the new church building was held Oct. 8, 1967 at 2:30 p.m. with Rev. John Garver, pastor; Rev. J.R. Mitchell, district superintendent; Claude Bullock, borough president; Rev. Dr. P.F. Elliott, general superintendent; and The Brungart Trio participating in the service.

In 1968, the Pilgrim Holiness Church and Wesleyan Methodist Church merged to become the Wesleyan Church, so Jersey Shore Pilgrim Holiness Church became Jersey Shore Wesleyan Church. Later in years, the name was changed to Lighthouse Wesleyan Church because of its location as a beacon of light to the surrounding area, much like a lighthouse lights the shoreline for ships at sea.

In 2000, under the leadership of Rev. Gary DeWitt, a two-story addition was built onto the existing structure, providing more classrooms, offices, additional nursery space, more bathrooms, a dining hall and kitchen. Also, at that time, a picnic pavilion was built on the opposite end of the property.

The church continues to worship on top of the hill, to work in the community meeting needs, and to answer the command of Christ to go into all the world and spread the gospel.

The special schedule for Sunday, Oct. 8 includes Celebration Worship at 10:30 a.m.; Celebration Lunch at 12:30 p.m. (catered by Shore Diner, Jersey Shore); and Celebration Hymn Sing at 2:30. The worship service and hymn sing will be held at the church on High Street, and the lunch will be held at Trinity United Methodist Church on Allegheny Street.

Past pastors and their families have been invited to come and share a greeting or a memory. Tim Dawson, a pastor’s son, will sing. Other vocalists are also scheduled. Rev. Kenneth L. Linn of Lock Haven is the main speaker. He has pastored the church twice in his career. After he was invited to speak at this celebration service, he became the church’s interim pastor, a position he is currently filling.

All the families who attend will receive a booklet on the history of the church, with a copy of the church bulletin from the original dedication service.