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Verdugo Views: A father of First Lutheran

April 19, 2012|By Katherine Yamada
  • The congregation of First Lutheran purchased a 1938 Studebaker from Packer Motor Company and gave it to their minister, James P. Beasom, Jr. to show their appreciation for his pastoral duties. It was presented in 1938, on the first anniversary of his arrival at the church.
The congregation of First Lutheran purchased a 1938 Studebaker… (Packer Motor Collection,…)

James P. Beasom Jr. came to Glendale’s First Lutheran church in 1937, and during his short time as minister the congregation grew from one of the smallest to one of the largest Lutheran churches in the state.

Beasom was born in Minnesota in 1899, but his family moved to Winnipeg, in the Canadian province of Manitoba, when he was very young.

The onset of World War I inspired him to support the cause, so even though he was under age, he joined the 79th Cameron Highlanders, a unit of Canadian soldiers headed for France in support of the British allies. He passed the exam since he appeared to be an adult in size and demeanor and he remained in the service “long enough to stand inspection before the Prince of Wales,” according to a Glendale News-Press story, May 18, 1940. When his age was finally discovered, he was released.

This adventurous young man returned to the United States in 1916, enrolled in a college with a student army training corps and, after graduation, entered Pacific Theological Seminary in Seattle. After his ordination in 1924, he did graduate work at several universities and served as pastor in a Seattle Lutheran church for five years.


In 1929, he headed in this direction and joined the faculty of Glendale Junior College as an instructor of public speaking and journalism, then went on to teach at Occidental College.

When he took the pulpit at First Lutheran in 1937, he immediately joined in the religious and civic affairs of the city, serving as president of the Glendale Ministerial Assn., the Glendale Kiwanis club and Beta Phi Gamma, a national journalism fraternity. For several years, Beasom also wrote a column for the News-Press.

Beasom and his family lived at 1650 Capistrano Ave., and his twin sons attended Glendale High. The 1940 article described him as “still just a young fellow in years and spirit.” In his college days, Beasom played football, and it was still his favorite sport. “As an ardent Bruin fan, he would very much like to see UCLA in the Rose Bowl,” he told the News-Press.

Beasom also enjoyed tennis and golf, and added that his hobby was collecting rare books and old manuscripts, including a rare copy of the Gutenberg Bible.

In 1945, Beasom left the pastorate to become the first full time president of the California Synod, assisting Lutheran churches throughout the state.

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