City Church Celebrating 35th Anniversary
For 35 years, one church has been a beacon in Jamestown.
Originally started in two Jamestown homes, Lighthouse Baptist Church has grown to include an gospel FM radio station among its list of ministries.
At the time of its founding, there were only nine members in the congregation and the church alternated services between the homes of the Chase and Helper families.
However, this arrangement only lasted for a few months due to rapid growth in membership.
The founding pastor was the Rev. Donald V. Erickson, a Falconer native.
“In May 1984, we had two families that talked to us about wanting to start at new church and so we met in their living rooms,” church volunteer Helen Erickson said. “From May until August, we met at their houses but they were getting tired of it because the church was growing.”
Shortly after, Jamestown businessman Bruce Powers offered Erickson use of a storefront on 800 Foote Ave. (the current location of Arby’s). Powers provided the church use of the building for a year.
At the end of their time in the building, the church was gifted with a new home when a building at 381 Camp St. became available. This would ultimately become the present location of the church. The building was ultimately purchased by Lighthouse in 1985.
At the time of the purchase, the building only consisted of the sanctuary area. However, the church incorporated various ministries in the space they had.
“(When) we got in here we had a Christian school, we had everything,” Helen Erickson said.
Shortly after the building was acquired by Lighthouse, Erickson’s father helped literally build the church. As Erickson’s father was a contractor, he provided expertise to each subsequent renovation of the church building.
In 1986, a hallway was added. Soon after, another addition was made to the original building and included space for a fellowship hall and Sunday school rooms. Eventually, more Sunday school rooms were added.
The final addition came in 2000 when an office for Erickson was built by his father.
“My husband’s father said you got to have an office. My husband never had an office,” Helen Erickson said. “We always got these wonderful blessings from people that came at the right time.”
Today, the office is the home of the church’s radio station, which came online in 2004. WOGM-104.7 FM LP is a low-power FM station that can be heard up to 18 miles from the church grounds. It was also the first low-power radio station in Jamestown to be used by a church.
Today, the station provides Christian music and original programming from a broadcasting company in North Carolina.
“It was all blood, sweat and tears,” Helen Erickson said of developing the church.
The church received a dramatic change in November 2017 when Erickson died. However, in spite of their loss, Helen Erickson said she is grateful.
“We are still working over mourning. Change is hard,” she said. “But I am nothing but thankful. He was smart, intelligent and wise.”
Since 2017, the church has been overseen by interim pastor Gary Buchanan.
Helen Erickson said the church may have a pastor appointed to the church full-time by late summer.
To celebrate its 35th anniversary, Lighthouse Baptist Church will host revival meetings through Wednesday. During this time, a special speaker will be evangelist Brian Lott from Erie, Pa. Along with his wife Niki and children Halle and Evan, they will provide special music during the meetings.
Services are Sunday at 10 and 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., and Monday to Wednesday at 7 p.m.
For more information, call 664-2645.