The Westside Story

In September, 1982, the first church services commenced in the Westside building at 3791 Hwy 16W in Prince George.  Bruce and Gwen Stratton gave leadership in the pioneering of this new congregation. They had come from Peterborough, Ontario, after Bruce graduated from Eastern Pentecostal Bible College. Bruce initially came to serve in a pastoral internship under Pastor Arlo Johnson at Prince George Pentecostal Tabernacle. After the internship was completed, Bruce and Gwen oversaw the new work at Westside. Also in September of 1982, in the same building, the academy began with approximately 50 students, under the tutelage of Dale and Alberta Cummins.

In February, 1983, the Westside building was gutted by a fire lit by an arsonist. In view of the severity of the fire, considerable structural changes were made to the building. During the nine months of reconstruction, the congregation met in a rented school gymnasium, and the academy relocated to Pentecostal Tabernacle at 5thand Ospika.

Church services started again in the reconstructed building in December, 1983, with academy classes returning in September of that year.

Bruce and Gwen concluded their pastoral work at Westside in the early summer of 1984. Marlo Johnson, Arlo’s son, was given leadership responsibilities for the Westside congregation while Dale and Alberta Cummins continued leading Westside Academy.  Dale and Alberta had commenced their school preparatory work in the spring of 1982 when they and Pastor Arlo and Glenna Johnson traveled to Texas for training in the A.C.E. Program of Education. The Cummins’ moved to Prince George during that summer, and the academy opened in September, 1982.

Dale Cummins concluded his work as principal of the Academy at the end of the 1985 school term.

In the summer of 1984 the Westside congregation became a separate entity from the congregation of Prince George Pentecostal Tabernacle, and renamed itself Westside Family Fellowship. At the same time the Westside congregation accepted administrative and financial responsibility for the Academy, and its name officially became Westside Academy. Pastors Arlo and Marlo Johnson shared the joint leadership of the church and the academy.

Expansion and Additions

Westside Family Fellowship buildings have increased over the years from 1986 to 2010. In May, 1986 an adjoining lot of one and one-half acres was purchased to allow an 1800 square foot expansion on the west part of the original building.  In 1987 another 800 square foot expansion was added. At the same time a double wide portable was joined to the south part of the original building. In 1991 the parking lot was paved. In 1993 a major addition was made across the front and east side of the building providing increased office space as well a large student locker area. In 2001 three portables were moved on to the east side of the property for school classrooms. In 2009/10, a separate building containing two storeys was added on the west side of the main building, providing considerable classroom and storage space.

Staff

Marlene Beck commenced working as a volunteer at the academy in September, 1984. In September, 1985 she volunteered as a secretary for the academy and the church.  Her volunteering, along with her gifting and training in the secular work force, prepared her to come on staff as Church Secretary and Administrative Assistant.  She is approaching her 4th decade of service in this role.

In 1991, Marlo became the principal of the academy, and Arlo assumed increased responsibilities for the church.

In 1994 Danny and Donna Legault joined the staff of Westside Family Fellowship.

In 1999 Robert and Sharon Tower joined the staff of Westside Academy to transition Westside Academy from an A.C.E. school to a Group One Independent School under the British Columbia Ministry of Education.

Marlo Johnson was inducted as the Senior Pastor of Westside Family Fellowship, in 2002, after his father, Arlo Johnson stepped down as senior pastor. It was at this time that Robert Tower was inducted as Principal of Westside Academy, and Danny Legault accepted an invitation to plant a new church congregation in Oneonta, New York.

Bernie Legault came onto the Westside Staff in 2007 as Building and Property Manager.

Dirk Haiste came onto the Westside Staff in 2008 as Associate Pastor/Pastor of Children’s Ministries.

In 2011 Donna Rosenbaum became Principal of Westside Academy with Sherry Breck serving as Assistant Principal.

Pastor Arlo Johnson continues to base his ministry out of Westside. In March of 2013 he finally (!) concluded his ministry to the nation of Sri Lanka after 20 years and many trips. Although not traveling as much, he still relates weekly to pastors in Sri Lanka and B.C. via email and telephone. Nowadays you can find him doing several other things, among them:

  • Serving in the eldership of Westside
  • Chairman of the Board of Emmaus Place Society (Senior Supportive Housing)
  • Ministering at the Chateau (local Senior’s Community)
  • Writing, writing, and more writing