In 1924 the Boston’s moved to Bellingham and opened the Light House Mission on October 5, 1924. On February 16, 1925 the name change to Light House Rescue Mission was recorded. On August 19, 1930 the name was changed again to Light House Rescue Mission and Seaman’s League. The Bostons served until December of 1937, when they turned the work over to Rev. and Mrs. John Nilsen, and moved back to Seattle.
The Nilsens operated the Mission until 1943 when the decision was made to close the Mission and give the property back to the Bostons. The Bostons who wanted it to remain a mission, gave it to the Union Gospel Mission in Seattle to operate. Around October of 1943, the Mission was being run by the Union Gospel Mission of Seattle. On March 11, 1944, the Board of Directors voted to change the name to Union Gospel Mission of Bellingham. The name change was not put into effect, according to George Simonka, a former Superintendent. There are, however, minutes of board meetings under that name.
About 1946, Mr. Hans Askland, assisted by his wife Mabel, became the Superintendent, after serving at the Bread of Life Mission in Seattle. As of 1991, their daughter Inez lived on Garden street and supplied information about her father. The Asklands served until 1948.
In November of 1950, George and June Simonka started their service at the Mission, where they soon met Reverend Myron “Mike” Hilty. Reverend Myron Hilty and his wife Jeannette had moved to Lynden around September of 1950, to pastor the Glendale Mennonite Church in Lynden.
It was George Simonka that suggested to Myron “Mike” Hilty that he should be a Director of a Mission. Reverend Hilty had always been inspired by missions, having attended services at the mission in Lima, Ohio in his youth.
George and June Simonka left Bellingham November 1, 1953. Shortly after they left, the Mission on E Street caught fire on November 11. The building was condemned by the city and was torn down.
In early 1954, the Board of Directors asked Albin Christopherson, a former Superintendent, to take over and help establish a new mission.
By October of 1954, the board had called “Mike” Hilty to be Director of that new Mission.
Earlier in 1954 the Board had voted to take option on property located in the 500 block of West Holly Street. The south half of Lot Two, owned by John and Ann Lamar, was sold to some of the board members.
On August 19, 1954 President of the Board Lawrence Sandberg and his wife Matilda “Tillie”, Clayton and Beryl Unger, Egil and Clara Melseth, and Landen and Neva Aspland, who had purchased the property on August 16, signed a Quit Claim Deed over to the Mission for the property.
In October 1954, Lot One was purchased from J. Morton Raper and his wife Katherine, then Lot Two in August of 1955 from Earl and Maud McLaughlin. Then on March 23, 1963, Lots Three and Four were purchased from Bellingham Sash and Door.
It wasn’t long before the Light House Mission thrift store was open at 502 West Holly Street. By 1972 the Light House Mission had acquired a building at 909 West Holly Street and the empty lot at 910 West Holly Street. Eventually the store was moved to the building at 909 West Holly Street and operated at that address until October of 1983, when a fire destroyed that building.
The building, located on the corner of Lots One and Two, at 500 West Holly Street, was known as the Yale Apartments and had at one time been called the best hotel between Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, B.C.
Al Archer and his wife Ruth came to the Mission in May of 1972, following his Seminary training at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
Al served at the Mission as a volunteer and in September of 1972, Ruth Archer was hired to be Myron “Mike” Hilty’s secretary at the Mission. When Myron “Mike” Hilty retired in January of 1973, Al Archer replaced him as Director.
After “Mike” Myron Hilty retired from superintendent of the Mission, he continued his service by developing an extended ministry to the senior citizens living in rest homes in Bellingham and Whatcom County, including elderly people living in other residential settings.
Having served the needs of the community for many years – over 50 years with 22,000 meals served, 8,000 beds provided, and 1,300 jobs located each year – the shelter at 500 West Holly Street was also ready for retirement.
Plans were drawn up for a new building that would be built with the help of the many long-time, generous supporters of the Mission.
In June of 1974, work began on a new Mission building on the empty lot at 910 West Holly Street.
The new mission building enclosed 15,000 square feet, and was designed to provide food, a safe place to sleep, and counseling to those in desperate human need.
In July of 1975, The Mission was moved into the new building. On the same day the Women’s Home was moved to 801 North Garden Street, into a house the Mission had rented from Alf Berg, who at that time, was President of the Board of Directors.
The women’s shelter was first named Shalom House. it was later changed to Agape Christian Women’s and Children’s Home, and around 1993, the name was changed to Agape Home for Women & Children. It was in 1993 that the house on Yew Street Road was acquired. It had 6 bedrooms and was able to house 16 women and children.
Around the year 2000, the building at 923 West Holly Street was acquired by the Mission. Part of the building was used for donated goods storage.
This building was to become the New Life Center. The new facility would include living quarters, classroom space and a new home for the administrative offices. There would also be room for some donated goods storage.
Plans were drawn up and work was begun. Rev. Al Archer and General Contractor Bob Hawkins(American Home Services, LLC) discuss the project.
The groundbreaking ceremony took place July 12, 2004.
The Rotary Club of Bellingham pledged $125,000 matching gift to the project.
Also in 2004 Al Archer retired after 32 years of service. During his 32 years of service as Executive Director Al had overseen the construction of the Mission building at 910 West Holly and the move from the old location on the 500 block of West Holly Street, the establishment of a women’s shelter that became Agape Home for Women and Children and it’s eventual move to Yew Street Road, and the planning and start of construction of the New Life Center. At his and Ruth’s retirement dinner Board Treasurer Gary Haveman presented Al with a watch. There was much more because both Al and Ruth were much appreciated.
Director of Lighthouse Mission Ministries. Having served as the Director at People’s City Mission in Lincoln, Nebraska, a city of 230,000 he brings much experience to our small Mission. Ron has worked full-time with homeless men, women and children in various occupations since 1987. His service to People’s City Mission and the community so noteworthy that the Mayor of Lincoln presented Ron with a Key-to-the-City at his farewell reception.
The dedication of the New Life Center was March 15, 2005.
As the each participant in the New Life Program progressed, they would move up to the next level. Starting with a dorm like room then advancing to their own semi-private cubical. There is also a common area for each floor.
November, 2005, the 10,000 square foot building at 1013 West Holly Street was purchased from Emerald Bay Events Inc. The property would come to serve as The Drop-In Center provide space for increasing program needs for homeless women & children.