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Jack W. Hayford, Charismatics’ ‘Gold Standard,’ Has Died

By Josh Shepherd
jack w hayford
Jack W. Hayford, founding pastor of The Church On the Way in Van Nuys, California, died on January 8, 2023, at his home in southern California. (Courtesy Photo)

Jack W. Hayford, an author, radio teacher, and pastor once called “The Pentecostal Gold Standard,” died Sunday morning at his home in southern California. He was 88 years old. 

Hayford’s ministry announced the well-known pastor’s passing in a statement online, noting he had dinner Saturday with his wife, Valerie, and had spoken to one of his grandchildren the same day. “Today, we mourn his loss but celebrate the homecoming of a great leader in God’s kingdom. We know that this great servant and worshipper is now experiencing the greatest worship service of all.”

Hayford was best-known as “Pastor Jack,” founding The Church On the Way in Van Nuys, California, in 1969. During his three-decade tenure as pastor of the charismatic Foursquare Gospel megachurch, it reportedly grew to over 12,000 members. 

A believer in supernatural healing, Hayford often recounted how as an infant he suffered from a “life threatening illness” and, in childhood, from polio—and how he was healed following prayers of family and friends. “These two extraordinary events ignited in Jack’s heart a passion for God and convinced him that the Holy Spirit is alive and active in the contemporary church,” states his ministry bio

In a 2005 article, Christianity Today referred to Hayford as “Pentecostals’ and charismatics’ gold standard.” Steve Strang, publisher of Charisma and Ministries Today said Hayford was a “statesman almost without peer. . . . His integrity and theological depth are so well known that he can draw together all kinds of factions.”

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Hayford’s sermons were first edited for broadcast in 1977, and within a decade his teaching program Living Way aired on more than 500 radio stations. He was inducted into the National Religious Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2014, alongside prominent evangelical preachers Billy Graham, Adrian Rogers, and Chuck Colson. 

jack w hayford
Jack W. Hayford (Courtesy Photo)

From 2004 to 2009, Hayford served as President of The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, which currently has over 67,500 affiliated churches. In a statement, the evangelical Pentecostal Christian denomination called Hayford “one of the most influential Foursquare figures since Founder Aimee Semple McPherson.” 

Hayford authored more than 50 books, including serving as executive editor of The Spirit-Filled Life Bible. He composed more than 500 worship songs including well-known chorus, “Majesty.” In 2002, his ministry moved his teaching online, launching a video program “Spirit Formed.”  

He founded The King’s College and Seminary in Los Angeles in 1997. It subsequently was renamed The King’s University, and a second campus opened at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas. The school’s main campus and administration is now based there in north Texas.

Hayford was previously married for more than 60 years to Anna Hayford, who died in 2017 from pancreatic cancer. They had four children together, 11 grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren.

Jack Hayford was remarried in 2018, to Valerie Lemire, a longtime family friend and past personal assistant to Hayford’s mother. 

Tributes span diverse evangelical-charismatic streams

Diverse evangelical and charismatic leaders paid tribute to Hayford — a key part of his legacy, according to Pentecostal church historian and author J.D. King. He noted Hayford “influenced pastors from a number of different denominations.”

“Hayford brought together sound biblical scholarship, an openness to the work of the Holy Spirit, and impeccable character traits,” said King, who is also pastor of Revive Church in Kansas City, Missouri.

Robert Morris, lead pastor of Gateway Church and for several years chancellor of The King’s University which Hayford founded, called Hayford a mentor and spiritual father. 

“I believe Pastor Jack was an Apostle Paul for our generation,” stated Morris. “Paul was a man of the Spirit and a man who knew the power of God. At the same time, he (was) a man of great intellect and an effective teacher of the Scriptures.” 

Author, missiologist, and prominent evangelical pastor Ed Stetzer related his final interaction with Hayford. “The last time I preached at Church on the Way was after Jack had retired, and the last time I saw him. Yet, he was on the front row—asking if he could pray for me before the service. He was both a great man and a humble man.”

Itinerant ministers Ray and Jackie Brooks, who have served for over 40 years on the leadership team at The Church On the Way, shared in a statement of first visiting the church in October 1978. They said there were five services every Sunday “overflowing with people.”

“We had to wait outside on the sidewalk in the hot sun for a service to end so we could get in,” the couple said in a statement. “We were so hungry for ministry that fed our spirits and Pastor Jack had it to give . . . The Lord used him to mold us into usable vessels for His glory.”

Christian apologist and worldview teacher Scott Klusendorf said he was “greatly impacted” by Hayford, including when he interned at The Church On the Way under Hayford’s leadership. 

Klusendorf stated in part: “When Jack led a church service, there were no smoke machines, no strobe lights, and no showmen. Rather, the focus was the heavenly throne room. Instead of entertainment, we were invited to lift our voices to the King of kings and focus on His greatness rather than our needs.”

Jeffrey Seif, Ph.D., who served as professor of Bible and Jewish studies at The King’s University in recent years during Hayford’s tenure as chancellor emeritus, after the school moved to Southlake, said his passing leaves “a hole in the universe.” 

“Few men have done so much, with so little, and in such a short period of time, as Pastor Jack Hayford,” said Seif in a statement to The Roys Report. “He’s influenced so many tens of thousands of leaders who have been indelibly marked by him.”

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and pastor of New Season Church in Sacramento, California, praised Hayford as a leader, composer, and scholar. 

Rodriguez posted the lyrics of Hayford’s best-known song and wrote: “Pastor Jack did change the world. He demonstrated that the Spirit Empowered/Charismatic movement can be both prophetic and practical, innovative and intelligent, anointed and artistic.” 

Charismatic author and televangelist Judy Jacobs, a graduate of The King’s University, who co-pastors Dwelling Place Church International in Cleveland, Tennessee with her husband, Jamie, called Hayford one of five people who most impacted her life. 

“Dr. Hayford had one of the kindest, most gentle spirits I have ever experienced, and he exemplified a Christian more than anyone I’ve ever known . . . We will always remember you Pastor Jack and the great legacy of faith and fire you leave behind.” 

Brian Bird, producer of hit TV series When Calls the Heart and dramatic films such as The Case for Christ, recalled his family’s shared history with Hayford in the Foursquare denomination.

He also recounted how Hayford responded to those who criticized his charismatic teaching. “His response was, ‘When I drive past any church, anywhere I go in the world, no matter what they think of me, I pray for their pastors and their congregations . . . that they would flourish and grow and reach their communities with God’s love,’” wrote Bird.

Don Moen, a worship songwriter and longtime president of Integrity Music, wrote of working with Hayford on several music projects. “He had a brilliant way of making the profound simple; saying things just the way we wished we could.”

Matt Crouch, chairman of Trinity Broadcasting Network, where Hayford’s sermons were first broadcast in 1977, wrote on the TBN Facebook page about the close relationship of Hayford with his parents, TBN founders Paul and Jan Crouch. 

The younger Crouch said he regarded Hayford as a spiritual father. “We can’t begin to express how much we will miss Jack’s gentle, Christlike demeanor, but we know we will see him again one day in Glory.” 

According to a tribute page published by The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, details of a memorial service for Hayford to be broadcast online are forthcoming. 

This article has been updated with additional tributes.

Freelance journalist Josh Shepherd writes on faith, culture, and public policy for several media outlets. He and his wife live in the Washington, D.C. area with their two children.



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8 Responses

  1. During my college years at the LA campus of Pepperdine University, I first started attending Church On the Way. Sitting on the front row for nine years, I relished Pastor Jack’s teaching. What a Bible teacher! Pastor Jack and Dallas Willard influenced, shaped, instructed and grounded my life in the reality of Kingdom Life With God. Pastor Jack’s teaching on the sanctity of marriage, principles of parenting, intercessory prayer, bountiful grateful worship and a thousand other Biblical touch points form the foundational planks of my spiritual formation. Pastor Jack’s deep rich exegetical instruction has been the blueprint – the templet and plumb-line – for my own years of teaching the Grand Story. And the capstone of my time at COTW was meeting my beloved husband, Robert MacMurchy. What a day of rejoicing that will be. When we all see Jesus and join the Glorious Reunion. Oh happy day! ????

  2. I had the privilege of meeting Pastor Jack at a Foursquare Conference held in Southern California in 2007 or 2008.

  3. Pastor Jack Hayford was used by God to help me believe for a child. A friend gave me a tape that I listened to with hope and growing faith.
    My precious Anna is here today because of the faith he shared and a friend who cared.
    Thank You, Father for the gift of Jack Hayford! Thank You, Father for loving me and bringing this man of God into my life to give me the desire of my heart!

  4. I think Jack Hayford’s death for me is a sobering reminder that even our greatest, most admired church leaders can have moral failures, like turning their heads to abuse in the church. When we found out that boys (minors) in our church had been sexually abused and that our senior pastor was not going to address the situation, we turned to Pastor Jack Hayford, who was our senior pastor’s pastor. Pastor Hayford relayed to us through his secretary that “he doesn’t get involved in these things and that we should talk to our senior pastor. When we told him that our senior pastor refused to talk with us about our concerns for the safety and well-being on minor boys in the church, Pastor Hayford reiterated the same message to us: “I don’t get involved.”

    I know we all make mistakes, and I’m hopeful that at some point Pastor Jack realized the harm that has happened because of his denomination’s mishandling and even cover-up of abuse.

    1. I very much appreciate your candid and faithful reply, even as I seek to minister to victims of fallout from a Foursquare-related ministry in my local area. Speaking up is SO VERY VITAL for the exposure and accountability and attempt at justice in this lifetime. <3

  5. I was saved and baptized in my late twenties in 1980 at Church on the way in Van Nuys. What a great way to start. What a decent, humble, and inspiring spiritual leader, I found him to be.

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