Pastor Jack Hayford, author, songwriter, and longtime pastor of Church on the Way in Van Nuys, California, has died at the age of 88.
Hayford was pastor of Church on the Way from 1969 when he stepped in as the interim leader, officially being installed in 1971, until his retirement in 1999.
He is also known for having founded The King’s University, which is now located in Southlake, Texas, in 1997, serving as the school’s chancellor and later as chancellor emeritus. Additionally, he served as president of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel denomination from 2004 to 2009.
Hayford authored numerous books, including “The Key to Everything,” “The Reward of Worship: The Joy of Fellowship with a Personal God,” and “I’ll Hold You in Heaven.” He also composed hundreds of hymns and worship choruses, perhaps most notably among them the 1978 song “Majesty.”
Born in 1934 in Los Angeles to a military veteran father and Bible teaching mother, Hayford was plagued with a life threatening muscular condition in his neck during his infancy. However, Hayford’s health soon improved, something that he and his family have credited to the power of prayer.
Later in childhood, he was stricken by polio. The elders of his church prayed fervently for his healing, and Hayford’s health eventually returned. The family believed it to be another miracle healing.
Hayford attended Life Pacific University, a private Christian Bible college in San Dimas, California and which serves as the flagship institution for higher education for the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1956.
He would go on to earn a second bachelor’s degree from Azusa Pacific University in 1970. While finishing his degree at Azusa Pacific, he took up a pastorate at the First Foursquare Church of Van Nuys, California.
At the time, the church only had 18 members with an average age of 65. Under Hayford’s leadership, within two decades, the church, subsequently renamed Church on the Way, became a pioneer in the American megachurch movement, boasting a weekly attendance of more than 10,000.
In 1999, Hayford retired from the pastorate so that he could focus on the growth of The King’s College and Seminary, which he founded in Van Nuys. The school would later come to be known as The King’s University, moving to Southlake, Texas, in 2013 after building a campus there a year prior.
As news of Hayford’s passing has spread, a number of Christian leaders have taken to social media to mourn his passing and celebrate his memory.