Haven of Rest Today: From its founder Paul Myers to Charles Morris
Paul Myers had a promising career as a broadcast radio host in Los Angeles in the 1930s. However, his life spun out of control because of alcoholism. In deep frustration, his wife locked him out of the house and told him the only thing she could do was pray for him.
Myers stayed at a skid row hotel along San Diego’s harbor. On an early foggy morning in 1934, he was awakened at the sound of a ship’s bell that rang eight times at 4:00 a.m., signaling “all’s well.”
That was Sunday, and he knew all was not well with him. He got up, spent his last pennies on a small breakfast instead of more alcohol, and then went to church. However, he was turned away because he looked wasted.
He went back to his cheap hotel room. There, he found a Gideon Bible and discovered Jesus’ offer of forgiveness, hope, and new life to those who follow Him. The Bible verses he read changed him forever.
One month after, he was back on the Los Angeles airwaves and started a new radio program called the ‘Haven of Rest’ that aired daily at WDZ.
First Mate Bob on the ‘Crew of the Good Ship Grace’
Paul Myers hosted the live program for the next 37 years. “First Mate Bob” was his moniker who was on the “Good Ship Grace.” He taught scriptures on-air. The Haven of Rest singers contributed to its popularity.
The program started with a ships’ air horn, then the sound of eight bells and the Quartet singing “The Haven of Rest,” an 1890 song by Henry L. Gilmour about anchoring our soul in Christ. Then, Myers greets listeners with “Ahoy there, shipmate, eight bells, and all’s well.”
Haven of Rest was heard for the first time on March 16, 1934. Incidentally, it was Bob Bowman’s 19th birthday, who was yet to be part of the Haven of Rest’s Quartet. Bowman would later co-found FEBC Radio Station.
Myers retired in 1971 and turned over the program to Paul Evans. He continued the format until 1989, when Dr. Raymond C. Ortlund Sr., the Senior Pastor at Lake Avenue Congregational Church in Pasadena, California, took over.
Dr. Ortlund and his wife Anne founded Renewal Ministries when he took over Haven of Rest. He hosted the program from 1989 to 2000.
The Haven Quartet
The Haven of Rest Quartet was very popular then. They were on board when the program began in 1934. Dubbed as the “Crew of the Good Ship Grace,” they were well-loved for how they sang. Their clean vocal sound made the gospel sound as if they were singing in heaven.
How Haven of Rest Quartet began
Two students of Southern California Bible College, Ernie Payne and Bob Bowman were standing on a veranda when two fellows stepped out of a car and introduced themselves as Kenneth Nelson and David Kleinsacker. They were looking to recruit singers for the new radio program Haven of Rest.
It was a Saturday, and there were no other students around that time except for the two. What cleary was a divine appointment, the two tenors invited Ernie and Bob, who said they were baritones. Sound great, Kenneth and David said, want to join us?
The rest was the history of the in-house four-part harmony singers God used to spread the gospel in American airwave for the next 67 years.
The Quartet sang four to five songs “live” until the 1950s, when the playback tape recorder was invented. The men mainly sang hymns in Acappella. Occasionally, they used the piano organ as accompaniment.
In the 1980s, the Quartet, which had new members, incorporated a more contemporary sound, but it still lagged with other contemporary Christian music. When Charles Morris took over in 2001, the Quartet no longer became part of the programming 2003.
Haven Today in 2001
Charles Morris, who took over in 2000, updated the name to Haven Today. Instead of the traditional in-house Quartet, Morris used contemporary Christian music.
Before taking over the program, Morris was a news reporter and an editor who worked as press secretary for two former U.S. Senators. For a time, he owned and operated his radio station.
With his distinctive and charming voice, the Haven of Rest, now Haven Today, took on a fresh direction towards the Millenium.
Today, the program mixes biblical teachings, interviews, current events, and Christian music into the half-hour, 5-day-a-week programs.
From one station in 1934, the program was heard on 275 stations in 1988. It is heard in over 600 radio stations in the United States, Canada, Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean, attracting nearly 500,000 listeners on each broadcast.
The Haven program from 1934 to present
- Paul Myers 1934 – 1971
- Paul Evans 1971 – 1989
- Ray Ortlund 1989 – 2000
- Charles Morris 2000 – present