Last December, Hawthorne church celebrated its milestone centennial with a weekend of reflection, reunion, and looking toward the future.
Friday evening’s vespers was organized by Hawthorne’s youth. The night was filled with music and testimonies, concluding with a message from Benjamin Del Pozo, current senior pastor at White Memorial church and a former associate pastor of Hawthorne (1995-1998).
Sabbath’s celebration welcomed former pastors and members, representatives from the Southern California Conference (SCC), and members from Los Angeles Tongan church, whose own ministry grew from Hawthorne church.
Velino A. Salazar, SCC president, congratulated the congregation on behalf of the SCC executive officers. “It’s a very important milestone for the present generation and the future generation,” acknowledged Salazar. He presented a letter to the congregation reflecting on their accomplishments and reaffirming their commitment to sharing the good news of salvation with the community.
Danny Chan, SCC Los Angeles Metro Region director, also in attendance, recognized the day’s significance. “It’s a symbol of all the hearts and lives that have been transformed as a result of the ministry that’s happened inside and outside of these walls,” said Chan, who presented the congregation with a gift of $10,000 for ministry.
A special dedication video was created by Felicia Tonga Taimi, a former member of Hawthorne now living in Michigan. The presentation told of Hawthorne church’s history, beginning with the four Sabbathkeeping families who founded the church in Lawndale in 1921.
Hawthorne church faced many trials in its history, such as multiple relocations, a potential closure in 1934 after a large group of its members moved, and a fire that destroyed the sanctuary in 1969—to name a few. Yet, the members’ faithfulness has seen the church through challenges— and victories—during the last 100 years.
“Let us hasten the coming of the Lord by continuing the mission that was planted in the hearts of the few families that began the building of this church,” said Taimi at the video’s conclusion.
Keith Hassinger, interim pastor who retired in 2016 after pastoring Hawthorne for 13 years, shared how the members’ willingness to take their stand as servants has contributed to Hawthorne’s longevity. “For this church to continue to grow,” said Hassinger, “it will take servants for the next 100 years.” Highlighting Hawthorne’s spirit of servant leadership, Lasalo Tonga was ordained as a deacon during the divine service.
The celebratory weekend concluded with a message from Roger Beltran, pastor in the Oregon Conference and former senior pastor of Hawthorne (1992-1999), and a “singspiration” concert featuring music groups from different churches.
“Coming to these 100 years, we thank God for all the people who have built up Hawthorne,” said Setaleki Fehoko, first elder. “The Lord has blessed us.”