By Melanie Williamson
This past weekend, Harbourtown Community Foursquare Church celebrated their 75th anniversary with a reception and special service. Over the course of the weekend, hundreds of people came together to celebrate the occasion including 20 of the church’s former pastors. As part of the festivities, congregants watched a video history of the church detailing the development of the physical church, as well as the transition of pastors since the beginning.
The church was started in the home of Lilian West in 1942 in the same location that the church is still located. It was started by Dan Bueser in response to the gas rations in World War II. Each week Lillian would carry chairs over from the funeral home for the service. Eventually, the house was purchased by the church and torn down so a church building could be built. The Annex, which is still part of the church structure was built in 1953.
As part of the celebration, some of the earliest members of the church were asked to talk about their memories of the church including Earl and Janice Cooper, who joined in 1943. Janice shared that her family went to the Foursquare Church in Amherst and were asked to join the church in Vermilion when it was being started.
Janice shared that they would sit in the front room of the house by the window with a kerosene stove trying to keep warm in the winter. Earl recalled teaching class to the children on the steps of the house. He went on to say that sometimes when he goes to church he sees some of the children he taught on those steps.
In 1978, the original building was town down and the church was rebuilt. Then in 1979, they were able to buy the triplex that was next door to the church and used it for classrooms and housing for associate pastors. Jim and Joyce Cooper became pastors in 1998. While it was supposed to be a short-term stay at the time, it turned into the longest running stay in the history of the church as they are still the pastors.