In 1902, Captain Charles Farr approached the Executive Committee of the Los Angeles City Christian Endeavor Union and asked it to support a Sailor’s Mission to be conducted by him in San Pedro, CA. After an investigation by the committee, it took over the work. Meetings were held aboard the “Warrior”, an abandoned tugboat, moored on the east side of the San Pedro Bay. After about two years, a site was selected at 331 S. Beacon Street. A corporation was formed in 1905, under the name of Southern California Floating Christian Endeavor Association and the mission was named ‘The Sailor’s Rest Mission’. In order to have a more central location, a building was rented at Fourth and Beacon Street. The success of the mission increased and a bigger building was needed. Therefore, in 1916, a larger building at 430 S. Beacon Street was purchased. This size of this facility made it possible to have a kitchen and dining room in the basement, a dormitory on the second floor, and a chapel and reading room on the ground floor. The purpose of the mission was to minister to the spiritual and physical needs of the men. Evangelistic services were held each night and a meal was served to all who attended.
In 1924, the Community Chest offered to help finance the work the mission was doing and the offer was accepted.
The attendance dropped markedly during the war, but after the war the work increased so much that a larger building and more workers were needed. The adjoining building was purchased in 1945, and the two buildings were joined and remodeled. There were two dormitories, a reading room, offices, and a larger kitchen and dining room space to care for about 200 men. Also, the name was changed to “Beacon Light Mission” and it became a fully functioning shelter for men.
Beacon Street in San Pedro had the reputation of being the ‘roughest’ street in the world. It was located in downtown San Pedro, in a decaying crime ridden area filled with bars, liquor stores, prostitution, drugs and homeless men. In the middle of all this was the Beacon Light Mission, bringing God’s light to those who found themselves in need in that darkness.
Efforts by the City to clean up Beacon Street were not successful and the City decided to just tear it all down. (If you were to look at map of San Pedro today, you would notice that there is no Beacon Street between 3rd Street and 6th Street.) The Beacon Street Project of the Community Redevelopment Agency (C.R.A.) was formed to clear the area and in 1971, the Beacon Light Mission received its eviction notice.
When a suitable relocation site could not be found in San Pedro, with the help of the C.R.A. and the United Way, a site in Wilmington was selected and construction began on our present site at 525 N. Broad Avenue. The mission opened its doors in Wilmington on March 11, 1972.
In December, 1972, United Way ended it’s involvement with the mission and the Beacon Light became privately supported. The Lord has continued to bless the Mission with financial support from churches, schools, businesses, individuals and a few industrial and professional foundations’ employees’ charities.
While the Wilmington facility was smaller, the conversions to Christ increased and the ministry grew. In 1988, more space was needed for housing and feeding the needy so the chapel and dining room areas were enlarged to hold 80 people each and the dormitory facilities were expanded to provide temporary shelter for 20 men, plus a volunteer staff.
The mission’s goal was to meet the needs of the men: to rehabilitate them physically, spiritually, and vocationally and give them a new start for individual success. The Mission was open to men eighteen years of age and over, of any race, color, national origin or religion and serves everyone equally.
Chapel services provided through local church groups, who send ministry teams monthly to the Beacon Light Mission, were held nightly. Following the chapel service, meals were provided for everyone in attendance. However, if you were a woman, at the end of the evening, the best that could be offered was a blanket and a blessing, and you were back out on the street.
In 2005, research began on the feasibility of providing a shelter to homeless women. It was discovered that there were no facilities in the area that provided shelter for women who were alone on the street. In November 2007, without sufficient funding, the Board voted unanimously to step out in faith and move forward with the construction of a women’s shelter and the Doors of Hope Women’s Shelter was conceived. A women’s committee was established in 2008. Through their efforts the ministry needs were defined, the fundraising began and the process of getting the Cities approval was started.
After overcoming a number of obstacles, the groundbreaking ceremony was held on July 10, 2010, and the facility, located next door to the Beacon Light Mission, was dedicated to the Lord’s service on September 17, 2011. The dream of providing a shelter for homeless women became a reality as the 20 bed shelter for women opened its doors.
Beacon Light Missions’ motto is “Soup, Soap and Salvation”. Our focus is on changing people’s lives through the love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are grateful to those who join us in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ in our evening chapel services. We are also thankful for the dedication of our staff volunteers, Board members, and all those who give of their time, talents and resources to this ministry. God is so gracious in providing for all of our needs.
The Mission provides: meals, clothing, showers, beds, mail service, and transportation to meet physical needs, and, chapel services, bible studies and counseling to meet spiritual needs. Rules for acceptance and participation in the program are the same for everyone regardless of race, color, national origin or religion.