Local Assembly of God Pastor Retires

First Assembly of God of Imperial Beach Pastor Hayden Cates vows to stay active and help the needy after retirement.

Hayden L. Cates arrived in Imperial Beach with his wife Maxine to start a church in Imperial Beach in 1956 and First Assembly of God of Imperial Beach was founded.

Cates said he, his wife and members of the local community built the church, including a construction worker who donated money for all the church's electronics. 

In December, Cates delivered his last sermon and retired after more than 60 years of ministry.

It has been his life's joy to lead people to God and see them receive the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues, he said. 

"When you're into this kind of business, everybody you see you want to them to have eternal life," he said.

As a child growing up in a coal mining town near Tulsa, Oklahoma, Cates was struck with polio, and so he has lived with a crippled arm since he was three-years-old.

"But you better watch out cause I've got a tough right arm," he said laughing.

His arm kept him from pursuing a passion to be a cowboy.

"I was ashamed to try to rope with other cowboys. I was a good rider, but I was a little bit ashamed." he said. 

When he was 20-years-old, Cates had a near death experience while wrangling cattle in Texas. 

"In cowbowin' your horse can stick its feet in a hole and come down on top of you, and you die or you live." 

One day his horse flipped and Cates said he heard the voice of God speak to him. 

"I heard Him say to me 'Will you tell them for me?' I said tell them them what? He said 'tell them I love them, my son died for them and I cry for them." 

"It really became real to me," he said.

Shortly after he moved closer to family in California and gave his life to the Lord. 

Though Cates gave up horse wrangling, he still enjoyed horses and over the years had nearly a dozen horses 

Cates wife Maxine was the church's music teacher and could play multiple instruments in the church's band. The two met in bible college in San Francisco. 

"I fell over backwards and rolled over three chairs," he said about the first time his wife and her "blazing red curls." 

Cates said though he is retired he will find other ways to stay active and help people, like deliver blankets and shoes to the needy in Mexico or support efforts to feed the hungry in Africa.


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