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THE

FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH

 

Post and Mason Streets

San Francisco, California

 

 

 

BETWEEN THE COLUMNS

The great columns at the front entrance of our church are a distinguishing landmark. They announce to all that pass by that there is between those columns an entrance to the sanctuary of God.

 

Page 3

 

 

CHURCH OFFICERS

ORGANIZATION

The church office is open daily from 9-5. Telephone number Exbrook 2-7461 reaches all offices.

 

 

 

 

STAFF DIRECTORY

 

Rev. Wm Elbert McCormack, D.D., Minister, 15 Aptos Av, DElaware 4-1393

Helen E. Price, Assistant, 6439 Regent Street, Oakland, OLympic 3-3622

Beryl E. Lohse, Assistant, 103 Munda Road, ATwater 2-2803

Gladys G. Stahl, Secretary, 487 Pacheco Street, LOmbard 6-4545

Harold E. Cunningham, Director of Music, 1758 33rd Av, LOmbard6-6-3360

Olive E. Cunningham, Organist, 1758 33rd Avenue, LOmbard 6-3360

 

 

 

 

OFFICERS

Moderator: Chester H. Woolsey, M.D.

Treasurer: Chris R. Weisz

 

Clerk: Crystal I. Bishop

Registrar: May C. Hunt

Superintendent of Church School: Beryl H. Lohse

 

 

CHURCH COUNCIL

Composed of the officers, the chairmen of each board and committee, the chief officer of each auxiliary organization, with the Minister as chairman. Provides supervision, coordination, and administrative direction.

 

 

BOARD OF DEACONS

Worship, sacraments, membership, hospitality and charities

 

(One Year)

(Two Years)

(Three Years)

James Aitken

David K. Blair

E. David Akers, M.D

Harry C. Carpenter

Marian R. Blair

Mary Akers

Roy W. Coultas

Charles M. Bufford

Margaret Beiler, secretary

Margaret E. Coultas

Ruby M. Hudson

John R. Bennett, D. D. S.

Ada P. Flinn

Homer J. McConnell

May Bennett

William A. Kohler

Charles W. Moss

Ernest M. Gibbons

Dorothy Lee

Adelaide Moss

James H. Hawes

Flora Lichtenfels

Guy T. Powell

Lela H. Millard

William Lobley

Jennie B. Powell

M. Jay Minkler, chairman

Evangeline K. Lobley

George W. Robinette

Zelda Minkler

Inez M. McConnell

Anna E. Robinette

W. Homer Sale

J. W. Payne

Bertha H. Weisz

Josephine E. Sale

 

 

HONORARY LIFE DEACONS

 

Ernest H. Dettner, Sr.

Chester H. Woolsey, M. D.

Curtis D. Wilbur

 

 

 

BOARD OF TRUSTEES

Maintenance, financial affairs, budget control, insurance, endowment investments, special trust funds.

 

(One Year)

(Two Years)

(Three Years)

W. Gordon Hazlett, D.D.S.

Elva H. Carpenter

Mortimer Hughes

William H. Hudson

Watt A. Long, chairman

Bertha M. Jewel

Charles P. Keeler

Wilfred Sidebottom

DeWitt H. Parsons

Maude E. Woodward, secretary

Roy E. Sorenson

Cyrus C. Washburn

 

 

BOARD OF EDUCATION

Fine arts, youth, school, service, social activities, literature

 

(One Year)

(Two Years)

(Three Years)

Lesley R. Jackson, chairman

Carl H. Blomgren

Paul A. Delp

Ruth H. Palmer

Jean Chandler

Margaret Minasian, secretary

Dorothy H. Sengenberger

Anna G. Mezquida

Doris L. Robinson

Pearl L. Sorenson

Marjory H. Washburn

Dorothy M. Welch

 

 

BOARD OF BENEVOLENCE

Missionary enterprise, projects, budget, benevolence promotion.

 

(One Year)

(Two Years)

(Three Years)

Flora Mae Brisbine

Samuel H. Edwards

Jane L. Parsons, secretary

Mabel C. Johanson

Esther Ericson

Anna W. Smith

Olaf P. Larsen

Edna L. Gilbert

Jean S. Wilbur, chairman

Doris Sidebottom

Eva E. Griffiths

Herbert K. Wilson

 

 

HISTORICAL COMMITTEE

 

Doris Sidebottom, Chairman

Charles M. Bufford

Eunice Harding

Majory H. Washburn

Gilbert Beck

Mamprey Gagos

DeWitt Parsons

 

 

 

MUSIC COMMITTEE

 

Edwin H. Steiner, Chairman

Flora Mae Brisbine

Ruth Palmer

Irma Thayer

David K. Blair

Elva Carpenter

Mary H. Pringle

 

 

 

NOMINATING COMMITTEE

 

Ruby M. Hudson, Chairman

Edna Gilbert

Gordon Sengenberger

Audrey Tucker

Paul S. Delp

Marian Palmer

Wilfred Sidebottom

 

 

 

PUBLICITY COMMITTEE

 

Roy Sorenson, Chairman

Ernest H. Dettner, Sr.

Olaf P. Larsen

Marian G. Porter

Trevor Evans

Anna G. Mezquida

Grace Rowland

 

 

 

USHERS COMMITTEE

 

E. David Akers, M.D.

John R. Bennett, D.D.S., Chairman

William A. Kohler

James Aitken

Harry C. Carpenter

George W. Robinette

 

Page 5

 

 

MINISTER'S STATEMENT

 

ONE HUNDRED YEARS

 

None of us have an adequate picture of the meaning of one hundred years in effort and earnest expression of the Christian message. But we all can be grateful that long before we needed it for ourselves, a church was founded in our city. Now that we pass from the celebration of the first hundred years to the exciting adventures of the second, we wish to record our progress.

 

Herein is contained the excellent history of the first one hundred years of the First Congregational Church of San Francisco, the lists of members as our records contain them at this time, the officers of the church and groups within the church, and the newly adopted constitution and by-laws of the church.

 

Hundreds of these historical booklets will be in circulation in this area. We do not grant permission to anyone or any organization whatever to use this information, especially the church membership and constituency lists, for political or commercial purposes.

 

We appreciate the assistance given to us by our advertisers and solicit for them a grateful patronage.

 

We are entrusted with a great history in San Francisco, we anticipate a greater future. Building upon the foundation laid by other hands, we are inspired to erect a nobler monument to faith and hope through our Lord, Jesus Christ. Occupying as it does a conspicuous place in the center of the city and community, this church desires to serve with strategic and forthright zeal the wider interests of the Kingdom of Christ.

 

This little book has been prepared with as much care as possible by a busy staff. It represents an additional duty for them all. It will be useful, however, if it is lodged somewhere near the telephone for easy reference in the homes of our members and friends.

 

May the God who watched over the fortunes of our fathers be our God as we advance into the tomorrow, and may His beneficent grace attend our every act for the sake of Christ and His Church.

 

William E. McCormack

 

 

Page 6

A HUNDRED YEARS

 

of the

 

FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH OF SAN FRANCISCO

 

1849-1949

 

By Charles M. Bufford

1949

 

 

A HUNDRED YEARS

 

of the

 

FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH OF SAN FRANCISCO

 

 

Antecedents

Beginnings

The Formative Years

Broad Foundations at Dupont and California

The Chinese

Removal to Post and Mason

Moral and Spiritual Collapse

Years of Recovery at the Turn of the Century

The Five Years after the Earthquake

Dr. Aked's Times

Internal Conflict and Weakness

Spiritual Awakening under Dynamic Leadership

The Impact of the Depression

Federation with Methodists

War and Post-War Years

8

9

10

11

13

14

17

17

19

20

22

24

27

29

30

 

 

 

 

Page 7

 

FIRST CHURCH

 

Organized July 29, 1849

 

Antecedents:

 

Rev. Timothy Dwight Hunt, a New School Presbyterian, acted as City Chaplain from November 5, 1848, to July 29, 1849, when his engagement was discontinued because denominational Protestant churches had got going: on his last day as chaplain he organized the First Church of seven members at the request of a number of Congregationalists.

 

Location:

School House, southwest corner of the public square at Kearny and Clay Streets, for a few weeks; then the school house having been diverted to other uses, temporarily without a regular meeting place.

Southeast corner of Jackson and Trenton, February 10, 1850, to July 3, 1853

Southwest corner of Grant and California, July 10, 1853, to May 12, 1872

Southeast corner of Post and Mason, from May 19, 1872

 

Pastors:

 

Timothy Dwight Hunt, July 29, 1849, to January 7, 1855

(Isaac H. Brayton, stated supply, January 14, 1855, to December 30, 1855)

Edward S. Lacy, stated supply, January 6, 1856, pastor June 4, 1856, to October 3, 1865

(John C. Holbrook, stated supply, March 17, 1859, for most of year)

(Kinsley Twining, stated supply, from Spring of 1864 to March 1865)

(F. B. Wheeler, stated supply, June 1865 to February 1866)

Andrew Leete Stone, March 11, 1866, to November 27, 1880

Charles Dana Barrows, January 8, 1882, to May 11, 1890

(S. M. Freeland, stated supply, February 1, 1891, to August 23, 1891)

(E. B. Webb, stated supply, January 17, 1892 to March 6, 1892)

Charles Oliver Brown, August 14, 1892, to April 20, 1896

George C. Adams, November 8, 1896, to September 3, 1910

(Madison C. Peters, stated supply, October 16, 1910 to January 1, 1911)

Charles F. Aked, April 16, 1911, to December 15, 1916

Byron H. Stauffer, October 7, 1917, to December 15, 1918

(J. B. Silcox, stated supply, December 22, 1918 to May 18, 1919)

James Logan Gordon, October 5, 1919, to November 28, 1926

Chauncey J. Hawkins, August 7, 1927, to August 9, 1930

Kerrison Juniper, December 6, 1931, to February 25, 1933

Jason Noble Pierce, June 4, 1933, to December 1, 1947

James Gordon Gilkey, Jr., September 12, 1948, to January 12, 1949

(James H. Woodruff, Acting Minister, January 13, 1949, to August 31, 1949)

 

William Elbert McCormack, September 1, 1949

 

 

 

Page 8

 

A HUNDRED YEARS

of the

First Congregational Church of San Francisco

1849-1949

 

Antecedents

 

The beginning of Protestant church work in San Francisco center around the visit of Rev. William Roberts in April 1847. He had been appointed by the Methodists as Missionary Superintendent of Oregon; and, early in that month, while en route to his new field with his wife and daughter, landed in San Francisco from the bark “Whiton”, and spent several weeks in the Bay region before going on to his destination.

 

On Sunday, April 25th, 1847, he held a preaching service in an adobe building in San Francisco, known as Brown's Hotel, and on that occasion, or within a few days afterwards, organized a Methodist class of six members.

 

How diminutive the city was at that time is indicated by the map of 1839, on which the city as delineated extended north and south only four blocks from the base of Telegraph Hill at Pacific Street to Sacramento, and east and west only two blocks from Montgomery to Dupont. The latter street was re-named Grant Avenue at its widened end about the time General Grant visited the city in the Fall of 1879 as he returned from his memorable trip around the world and years later was so re-named for its entire length.

 

A census in the summer of 1847 disclosed a population of but 459.

 

Such was the situation when John W. Marshall discovered gold at Coloma on January 24th, 1848, nine days before Mexico signed the Treaty of Peace ending the Mexican War and ceding California to the United States.

 

The stories of the discovery of gold traveled slowly, as did all news in those days, and at first were received with incredulity. But as they gradually gained acceptance, they grew to fantastic proportions. A first trickle of gold-seekers grew to a mighty surge. The sleepy village of San Francisco suddenly became the point of debarkation, outfitting and recreation for countless thousands on their way to the mines.

 

Amongst the many sorts and conditions of human beings that came were soon included a sprinkling of Protestant clergymen. The first of these to arrive in San Francisco, was Rev. Timothy Dwight Hunt, from the Sandwich Islands, now Hawaii. He was a graduate of Yale College, and a New School Presbyterian, so-called from a schism in 1837 between conservative Presbyterians, called Old School, and the more liberal minded, called New School, a schism which lasted until 1869. He had gone to the Islands in 1844, when in his early twenties, as a missionary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to the natives; for while the schism lasted, New School synods were barred from membership in the Presbyterian General Assembly, and joined in home and foreign missions with the Congregationalists.

 

Early in 1846, with permission of the American Board, Mr. Hunt had undertaken work among the English-speaking foreigners in Honolulu. But when the news of the discovery of gold at Coloma reached the Islands, the foreign population began to drift to California in such numbers that he became fearful of the future of his work. So in late Summer he obtained an indefinite leave of absence from what remained of his congregation, and with his wife boarded a schooner which dropped anchor at San Francisco on Sunday afternoon, October 29th, 1848.

 

Page 9

 

No sooner had he arrived than local people desirous of Protestant work in the city rallied around him, and on November 2nd engaged him as “City Chaplain” for one year at a salary of $2500.00 to conduct undenominational services in the 25' x 30' school house in the southwest corner of the public square which the Hall of Justice now faces at Clay and Kearny. Here he preached his first sermon on Sunday, November 5th, and soon added a Sunday School and other activities to his work.

 

But early in 1849 denominational enterprises began to gain headway. A Baptist preacher, Rev. O. C. Wheeler, came on the first steamer, the “California”, which arrived from New York on February 28, 1849, and an Old School Presbyterian, Rev. Albert Williams, came on the second, the “Oregon”, which arrived from New York on April 1st.

 

At first, the Methodist class organized by Superintendent Roberts in April 1847, had not functioned very well owing to the class leader not feeling equal to the responsibilities. But after the Gold Rush began, various Methodist local preachers spent time in San Francisco, supporting themselves at least in part by secular pursuits, and the work began to function more regularly. On May 10th, 1849, Asa White, a local preacher sent from Oregon by Mr. Roberts, pitched a tent on Powell Street, rallied the Methodists, and began preaching services the following Sunday, May 13th.

 

On May 20th Mr. Williams organized the First Presbyterian Church of six members; on June 24th Mr. Wheeler, the First Baptist Church also of six members. During July, Rev. Flavel S. Mines, an Episcopalian, began services, and before month's end organized Trinity Church.

 

In consequence of this activity, and the gradual transfer of support from Mr. Hunt's undenominational work to that of the denominational churches, it became apparent that the field for the chaplaincy had disappeared, and it was agreed by mutual consent of all concerned to terminate it at the end of July.

 

 

Beginnings

 

At this juncture ten persons signed a memorandum addressed to Mr. Hunt, by which they adopted as their standard of doctrine and church government the articles of faith and forms of the evangelical Congregational churches of New England, and requested Mr. Hunt to organize them into a church to be called “The First Congregational Church of San Francisco.” To this he agreed, and at the close of his last morning service as chaplain, on Sunday, July 29th, 1849, the church was organized by the election of Frederick S. Hawley as temporary chairman, and George N. Seymour as temporary clerk. At 3 o'clock the same afternoon, the new church held its first services in the same building and formally asked Mr. Hunt, then 28 years of age, to act as stated supply. Eight persons signed as charter members: six of them were signers of the memorandum to Mr. Hunt – David N. Hawley, Frederick S. Hawley and George W. Wheeler from Bridgeport, Connecticut; Thomas Douglass from New London, Connecticut; John Johnson from Charleston, South Carolina; and George N. Seymour from Peekskill, New York. The other two of the charter members were Mrs. Mary H. Hunt, the minister's wife, and Henry S. Benedict from New York City. Thomas Douglass and Frederick S. Hawley were elected deacons. These eight were all members received in 1849.

 

A seventh of the signers of the memorandum, Phineas Hudson, became a trustee when, on March 3rd, 1850, an ecclesiastical society was organized to hold the church property, receive the income, and make the pecuniary engagements, appropriations and payments.

 

Page 10

 

The Formative Years

 

Shortly after the church's organization, the school house in which it had begun was diverted to other uses, and the church was left without a regular meeting place until February 10th, 1850, when it opened a small edifice of its own, 25' x 30' in size.

 

This building was of wood, cloth-lined, with wooden benches with single-rail backs, arranged on either side of a center aisle. It was lighted by candles in tin sockets on the side walls and a student's lamp on the minister's table, and seated about a hundred. The cost, including land and furnishings, was about $7,000.00.

 

The site was on the hillside at the southeast corner of Jackson and Trenton, then Virginia, the latter a short street between Stockton and Powell. The church was fortunate in that this site was outside the path of the great fires which swept the city in the early fifties.

 

Up to March 26th, 1850, Mr. Hunt acted as supply, but on that date the church and society called him to the pastorate.

 

In the Winter of 1850 and 1851, while Mr. Hunt was absent on an eastern trip, the pulpit was supplied by Rev. James Henry Warren, then recently arrived by way of the Isthmus, and in after years organizer and first pastor of the Nevada City Church, and from 1864 to 1891 Home Missionary Superintendent.

 

An unusual feature of the church after it first moved into its edifice at Jackson and Trenton was the fewness of women adherents. But one of the eight who joined in 1849, the minister's wife, was a woman, and early in 1850 she returned East for a year's visit. And of the twelve who joined in 1850, but one was a woman, and few, if any, women were found in the congregation. The married pioneers had for the most part left their women-folk behind, either because of the rigors of the journey and of life on the frontier, or because they hoped to make their stakes quickly and soon return to their old homes. But as the possibilities of the new country began to be realized, this situation gradually changed, and by 1852 there were included in the church's constituency a number of earnest, active Christian women.

 

Because of the great part New England shipping, from New England ports, played in the sea-borne commerce of those days, there was a disproportionate number of New Englanders in the early migration to California; and as New England was the citadel of Congregationalism, both the church and the denomination had a rapid and substantial growth in the early city.

 

Thus before long it became apparent that the building at Jackson and Trenton would soon be outgrown, and in September 1851 the lot at the southwest corner of Dupont and California, 68' 9” on Dupont and 120' on California, diagonally across from present Old St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, was bought for $3250.00

 

On this lot a red brick building costing $57,000.00, and with an auditorium seating 700, was opened on July 10th, 1853; and within the next few years $20,000.00 additional was expended for grading the streets, excavating and finishing a basement, lighting with gas, upholstering the pews, and constructing outside stairways to the auditorium on the Dupont Street front.

 

The church organ, which did service until 1890, was a gift from four New England firms engaged in the profitable California trade, one of which was represented in San Francisco by Edward P. Flint, who had become a member of the church in 1851.

 

Page 11

 

The first years in the new building were, however, disheartening. The constituency did not gain in proportion to the magnitude of the new plant, and the very high interest charges on the indebtedness incurred in its construction seemed beyond the ability of the church to carry. Under these circumstances, Mr. Hunt closed his pastorate the first Sunday of January 1855.

 

During the year that followed the pulpit was supplied by Rev. Isaac H. Brayton, who had arrived in California in 1850, had gone in October of that year to the New School Presbyterian Church in San Jose, and most recently had been principal of a school in Oakland.

 

 

Broad Foundations at Dupont and California

 

With the first Sunday of January 1856 Rev. Edward S. Lacy began his dynamic and successful ministry of ten years from which the ravages of tuberculosis finally forced his retirement.

 

A native of Saratoga County, New York, Mr. Lacy had come to California in quest of his health in 1854, shortly after his graduation from Union Theological Seminary, New York City. After engaging for a time in missionary work at Crescent City, he had returned to San Francisco. Like Mr. Hunt and Mr. Brayton a New School Presbyterian, he had been brought to the attention of the church while supplying Howard Presbyterian Church in the Summer of 1855, through a Sunday morning exchange with Mr. Brayton.

 

Mr. Lacy was a large man, full six feet tall, with a long, full, black beard, and a deep sonorous voice; a devout man, full of zeal and earnestness and possessed of a winning personality. Then about 30 years of age, he was engaged at first as stated supply, but became settled pastor on June 4th, 1856.

 

In his first Winter his health did not permit of his preaching evenings, but with the coming Summer he was much improved and the church was again opened Sunday nights. Notwithstanding the long absences from his work necessitated by impaired health, the church under his inspiring leadership forged ahead.

 

Rev. William C. Pond, who knew him personally, tells in his volume of personal reminiscences, entitled “Gospel Pioneering,” that Mr. Lacy's preaching was conversational in style rather than eloquent, yet was suggestive and inspiring; and declares that under his ministry the church rose up out of embarrassment such as might easily have been fatal, to a place of eminence among the few strongholds of righteousness in the city.

 

In 1858 a tidal wave of reform and religious conversion swept over the State through the efforts of Rev. A. B. Earle an evangelist, and the church received 64 accessions.

 

In 1859 Mr. Lacy's health required a prolonged absence, and the pulpit was supplied by Rev. John C. Holbrook, previously of Dubuque, Iowa, and for a time western correspondent for a Congregationalist weekly then published in New York City. He arrived by steamer March 17th, 1859.

 

The census of 1860 disclosed that the City's population had grown to 56,862 from 459 in 1847. The main business street was Montgomery, with the center of activity between California and Clay. Few people lived further west than Powell. The main routes of travel were north and south, along Montgomery and Kearny, Third and Fourth, from Telegraph Hill and Washington Square, then as now at Powell and Union, to the vicinity of South Park and of the present Bay Bridge approaches. On July 4th, 1860 a steam train was placed in operation from Third and Market out Market to Mission Dolores, running half-hourly during business hours. In December 1862 rival horse-car lines began running, one on Montgomery and Third with a branch on Howard, the other on Kearny and Fourth with a branch on Folsom, supplanting bus lines which previously had operated.

 

Page 12

 

At the beginning of the sixties the principal Protestant churches were in the central area. The First Presbyterian and the First Unitarian were on Stockton near Clay; the First Baptist around the corner on Washington. The First Methodist, then the Powell Street Methodist, and Grace Episcopal were on Powell near Washington. Trinity Episcopal was on Pine above Montgomery, Calvary Presbyterian on Bush below Montgomery. The First Congregational was at Dupont and California.

 

The Roman Catholics had St. Francis on Vallejo near Dupont, where it had been since early in 1849 and still is; St. Mary's, then Archbishop Allemany's Cathedral, at California and Dupont, where it still is; and St. Patrick's at its present site on Mission between Third and Fourth.

 

The Synagogue Emanu-El was on Stockton between Broadway and Vallejo; the Synagogue Sherith Israel on Broadway between Powell and Mason.

 

Of the Protestant churches of 1860 only two had as many as 300 members – First Congregational and Calvary Presbyterian.

 

The Civil War found this church strongly united for the Union cause. It is said that it was the first church in the city to unfurl the flag over its building, and the first to sing Julia Ward Howe's “Battle Hymn of the Republic” to the tune of “John Brown's Body.”

 

In February 1864, Mr. Lacy's ministry was cut short by a severe hemorrhage and at his request he was granted a leave of absence. In July, not having improved sufficiently to resume his work, he presented his resignation and sailed for Europe. It was not accepted, however. The following year he renewed it, and when hope of his recovery was abandoned, it was accepted with great reluctance on October 3rd, 1865.

 

After two years in Europe Mr. Lacy returned to the United States somewhat improved, settled on a farm near Martinsburg, Virginia, and while there acted as County Superintendent of Schools. In 1872, having, as he thought, sufficiently recovered his health to resume the religious work he loved so well, he acceded to the suggestion of friends to come to California and act as pastor of Mills Seminary Church. About two years later his health again failed, and after a lingering illness, he died peacefully near St. Helena, Napa County, on August 23rd, 1875.

 

From the Spring of 1864 to the Spring of 1865, the period of Rev. Kinsley Twining's residence in the city, the pulpit was for the most part supplied by him, he having come West with his wife from his pastorate at Hinsdale, Massachusetts, in the vain hope of possible benefit for her failing health.

 

Then, Rev. William C. Pond, who had secured a leave of absence from his church in Downieville for the purpose, supplied for two months, pending the arrival of Rev. F. B. Wheeler of Poughkeepsie, New York, who had been engaged as stated supply, and who remained until the eve of the coming of the new pastor in March 1866.

 

On December 27th, 1865, the church called as Mr. Lacy's successor Rev. Andrew L. Stone, then engaged in a successful pastorate at Park Street Church, Boston. He accepted, and conducted his first services on March 11, 1866.

 

Page 13

 

Dr. Stone was a native of Oxford, Connecticut. Born November 25th, 1815, he had graduated from Yale College with the Class of 1837 and afterwards from Union Theological Seminary.

 

He brought to the pulpit spirituality, dignity, learning, and a Victorian polish. The religious revival that swept over the city the year he came contributed to the auspicious start of his ministry, and ninety-four persons joined the church his first Summer. As time went on, besides securing many accessions to membership, he interested in the work and support of the church a considerable number of prominent and successful men who, though not professing Christians, believed that strong churches were an asset to a community.

 

One of his early interests was the founding of a theological seminary in the Bay area; and when Pacific Theological Seminary was incorporated under Congregational auspices, the subscriptions for the first professorship were obtained chiefly through his efforts. As a result, Rev. Joseph A. Benton was elected Professor of Sacred Literature and began instructing the first class of three or four members in March 1869 on the fourth floor of a small building on Montgomery Street.

 

 

The Chinese

 

It is said that a few Chinese arrived in California as early as 1848. But at all events, by 1852 they had begun to arrive in considerable numbers, and it is estimated that in that year there were 18,000 in the State. By 1860 the number had almost doubled, and according to the Census, there were 2,626 in the city.

 

Nearly all of them were young men in the prime of life, from the most depressed classes in China, accustomed to hard work under severe conditions. When employed in numbers, they usually worked under bosses of their own race who hired, paid and controlled them, and contracted with white enterprisers for their labor. Few indeed, except the bosses, could speak any English at all; they brought with them from the Orient their native customs and low standards of living; in the Chinatowns in San Francisco and elsewhere they lived in great congestion and squalor.

 

At first there was more work in California than laborers, and they were welcomed as miners, servants, laundrymen, farm hands, and railroad builders. But when the Golden Spike, signalizing the completion of the trans-continental railroad, was driven at Promontory, Utah, on May 10th, 1869, the big force of Chinese that had worked in the construction of the western section of the railroad was left largely without employment, and flocked to San Francisco in such numbers that many feared they eventually would displace the white settlers and take over the State.

 

They worked under conditions scornd (sic) by white men; were content with wages on which white men could not live; and often sent much even of these meager earnings back to China.

 

In the years since they had begun to arrive in large numbers, the working people of American and European ancestry had also increased, and when the work of the Chinese on the railroad was finished, their presence resulted in serious economic and social difficulties. Thus it is not surprising that hostility sprang up against them throughout the West.

 

In the late sixties, the Methodists approached this difficult situation by placing Rev. Otis Gibson, a returned missionary from China, in charge of a Methodist Chinese Mission. He proposed to the Protestant churches that they establish Chinese Sunday Schools and evening schools at which the Chinese could learn English as well as the rudiments of Christianity.

 

Page 14

 

This received a favorable response in a number of churches, including the First Congregational, and the Chinese Sunday School in this church had so great an attendance that it had to be held in the main auditorium, and became one of the spectacles to be shown to visitors to the city. Even after the removal of the church to Post and Mason it continued to function, and continued on a gradually reducing scale into the nineties.

 

 

Removal to Post and Mason

 

Shortly after the beginning of Dr. Stone's pastorate, the rapidly growing Chinese population along Dupont Street, and the busy centers of underworld activity in adjacent streets, made it apparent that the future welfare of the church would be promoted by removal to a more suitable environment, and in March 1870 the report of a committee, recommending the purchase of the present site at Post and Mason for $35,000.00 was adopted.

 

For the building on this site quite elaborate plans were adopted. Work was begun in November 1870; the cornerstone was laid on June 8th, 1871; and by the Spring of 1872 the building was nearing completion.

 

Beginning in the Fall of 1870, the Sunday evening services were held for six months in Mechanics Pavilion, then on Union Square, and after Dr. Stone's Summer vacation of 1871 in the Hawaiian Islands, were resumed in Occidental Skating Rink at Post and Stockton. Six weeks later the Rink was damaged by fire. Then for a few Sundays the evening services were held jointly with Calvary Presbyterian Church in its edifice at Geary and Powell; then for a few weeks in the newly completed Horticultural Hall on Stockton Street; then were resumed in the Rink.

 

Then first Sunday of May 1872 was marked by the beginning of Samuel D. Mayer's engagement as organist and musical director, which was destined to last for 42 years until his retirement in 1914. For more than 25 years Mr. Mayer also sang the tenor part in the quartette choir. His distinction it was to play at the inaugural of the great organ in 1890, and of its worthy successor in 1907.

 

The farewell services in the Dupont Street church on Sunday, May 12th, 1872, were most impressive. In the morning, the church's former pastor, Mr. Lacy, preached the sermon. In the evening Dr. Stone preached on the appropriate theme, “The Transient and the Permanent in Christian Work,” from the text of First Peter 1; 24 and 25, “The grass withereth and the flower fadeth away, but the word of the Lord endureth forever.”

 

Of the new church, the newspaper “The Bulletin” had this to say: “The new church is universally conceded to be the finest in design and the most complete and beautiful in its interior ornamentation and appointments of any in this city; and in these respects rivals the best in America. The style is Gothic – the walls are of red brick, with ornaments in artificial stone – the structure is surmounted by a spire which rises – 225 feet from the sidewalk – the pew capacity is 1,600 – the distance from the floor to the ceiling is 64 feet, and the dimensions are about 68' x 74'. Spacious galleries skirt the two sides of the building, and are so constructed that no column or pillars obstruct the view of people seated beneath them – the ceiling is elaborately ornamented in frescoes and panel work – the windows are of stained glass – the pulpit is on a raised platform and is of solid black walnut, beautifully carved – Near the pulpit are three solid black walnut chairs, cushioned and backed with crimson plush – By the Communion Table in front are two more exactly corresponding – the orchestra is situated back of the pulpit, and about six feet above it – The front of the little gallery is paneled with black walnut carving – the back and ends of the pews are of black walnut, and all are upholstered in crimson damask.

 

 

 

Page 15

 

Church carpet figured in black and crimson covers the entire floor. The pastor's study is back of the pulpit, and under the orchestra, in the basement are the vestry and committee rooms, infant Sunday School class rooms and ladies parlor, all connected by folding doors in such a way that at pleasure they may be converted into one assembly room.”

 

Of the dedicatory services, on Sunday afternoon, May 19th, “The Bulletin” recorded:

 

“A long time before the hour of commencement, the church was filled, and chairs had to be placed in the aisles – Large numbers of people were obliged to turn back from the doors – The Pastor, Dr. Stone, preached the sermon – the dedicatory prayer was offered by Rev. E. S. Lacy, former pastor.”

 

The new building cost $93,100.00, the furnishings $11,200.00, the fence and street work $4,100.00; architects' fees were $4,500.00, and when the Dupont Street premises were finally sold to the Academy of Sciences some years later for $20,500.00 there remained a large and oppressive debt of $75,000.00.

 

An important achievement of the Fall of 1877 was the raising of this debt, under the leadership of Edward Kimball, a well-known church-debt raiser of that time.

 

As early as 1876 Dr. Stone's health began to show serious impairment. One Sunday, while preaching, he temporarily lost the power of speech, though regaining it quickly enough to carry on and complete his discourse. This difficulty, however, recurred, and in April 1877 he found it needful to take six months' leave of absence. Returning somewhat improved, he was able to carry on to an extent, with the aid of an assistant, until early in 1880, when complete cessation from his duties became imperative.

 

His health not improving, the church reluctantly accepted his resignation on November 27th, 1880, and elected him pastor emeritus. At the end of 1881, just prior to his successor's arrival, he was able to preach on several Sunday mornings. Thereafter he continued to reside in the city in semi-retirement until his death, after a long, slow decline, on January 16th, 1892.

 

When Dr. Stone became unable to go on, the pulpit was supplied for a time by Rev. C. L. Goodell of St. Louis, Missouri, followed for five months by Rev. John Reid of Victoria, British Columbia.

 

In the Fall of 1880, the celebrated evangelists, Moody and Sankey, visited San Francisco, and remained for the Winter. The first six weeks they carried on before crowded houses in this church, and then moved to an even larger auditorium. Churches of many denominations united to support their campaign, and the religious life of the community was greatly stimulated. There were many accessions to the membership of this church.

 

The year after the opening of the Gothic church, the direction of the city's growth changed from north and south of the central districts to westerly by the invention of the cable street railroad. The Clay Street Hill Cable Railroad, the success on August 1st, 1873; and by 1880 cable lines on California, Sutter and first in the world, began operating on Clay from Kearny to Leavenworth with great Geary Streets were running as far west as Presidio Avenue, over hills with which horse flesh could not cope.

 

As a result of this westerly trend, the Protestant churches that had clustered in the Union Square district after their withdrawal from their earlier locations further downtown, one by one moved west, until at the end of the century, with the removal of Calvary Presbyterian Church from Powell and Geary, the present site of Hotel St. Francis, this church alone remained in the Union Square district.

 

 

Page 16

 

Two Decades of Pre-eminence

 

How great the accomplishment of erecting and paying for so splendid and commodious church edifice as the Gothic church becomes clear when we note the surroundings and indulge in some comparisons. At that time the city’s population was less than two hundred thousand, and per capita wealth was far less than in our times. At present prices a comparable building would cost at least half a million dollars. In more than half a century following, this church's present edifice was the only other comparable size and cost erected in this city for a Protestant church.

 

The Gothic church, moreover, but reflected a quality in the church's membership and constituency that measured up to the edifice it occupied.

 

On January 19th, 1881, this church called Rev. Charles Dana Barrows, a native of Fryeburg, Maine, a graduate of Dartmouth College and Andover Seminary, then about 36 years of age and minister of First Church, Lowell, Massachusetts. He accepted after some hesitation, but did not arrive to preach his first sermon as pastor until January 8th, 1882.

 

Dr. Barrows took great interest in the cultural, recreational and social life of the city; led a musical organization; promoted the newly-developing free-kindergarten movement; conducted and edited a magazine; drove fine carriage horses; participated in Masonic activities; and formed social ties with leaders in the city's business and social life.

 

Under his leadership the church maintained its outstanding place in city Protestantism. Its work proceeded harmoniously and well. Its clientele came in increasingly from the civic and social leaders with whom Dr. Barrows formed his closest ties. As a result of one of these friendships came the gift by Mrs. Harriet C. Alexander, in memory of her parents, Charles and Mary C. Crocker, the Central Pacific railroad magnates, of a great organ, superior to any other west of the Atlantic seaboard.

 

On April 27th, 1890, Dr. Barrows took a special offering to install the new organ, redecorate, re-carpet and re-upholster the main auditorium, and pay off the floating debt; and after Sunday, June 1st, the church was closed to permit the work to be done.

 

Meanwhile, following Sunday, May 11th, Dr. Barrows left for the East on vacation. Apparently not well at that time, almost immediately afterwards his condition took a turn for the worse, the result of a disease of the brain. And shortly after reaching New England, he sent to Isaac H. Morse, a deacon and trusted friend, a resignation, dated Boston, May 27th, in which he assigned as his reason for resigning his wife's ill-health and her desire to remain in New England.

 

Mr. Morse presented the resignation to a church meeting on June 13th, and it was unanimously accepted. A church council, called to consider this dissolution of pastoral relations, met on June 23rd and September 29th, and after studying the situation, gave approval and issued letters of recommendation to Dr. Barrows.

 

But after a lingering illness, he died in a hospital for mental cases at Worcester, Massachusetts, on September 14th, 1892.

 

On August 3rd, 1890, the Sunday services, temporarily discontinued when the church was closed, were resumed in Temple Emanu-El, then at 450 Sutter Street, with Rev. R. R. Meredith of Tompkins Avenue Church, Brooklyn, New York, then at the height of his popularity and success as summer supply. On his last Sunday, August 31st, the church edifice was re-opened, completely refurbished, and the new organ placed in use, the congregations overflowing the building.

 

 

Page 17

 

On September 10th, the church extended a call to Dr. Meredith, but he declined, as did Rev. Samuel H. Virgin of New York City, to whom a call was extended on October 14th, 1891.

 

During this period, Rev. C. S. M. Freeland of Detroit, Michigan, acted as stated supply from February 1st to August 23rd, 1891, and Rev. E. B. Webb of Boston from January 17th to March 6th, 1892.

 

On August 30th and September 6th, 1891, and again in June 1892, the pulpit was supplied by Rev. Charles Oliver Brown, then engaged in a successful pastorate at First Church, Tacoma, Washington. At the end of June 1892 the church called him. He accepted and preached his first sermons as pastor on August 14th.

 

Born at Battle Creek, Michigan, on January 22nd, 1848, Dr. Brown had gone to the Civil War as a boy bugler notwithstanding his extreme youth, and later had completed his education. The greatest orator the church had had, he preached to the largest congregations in its history. The brilliant interdenominational evangelistic campaign conducted in the city in the Summer of 1892 by Rev. B. Fay Mills added to the initial success of Dr. Brown's ministry, and church membership climbed into the nine hundreds.

 

Up to the closing days of 1895, to all outward appearances Dr. Brown's ministry had run along on a sound spiritual basis, notwithstanding at times he lacked poise in dealing with current church problems and personalities, and did not have the Victorian polish which many in the constituency prized so highly.

 

Moral and Spiritual Collapse

 

But at this juncture his relations with a woman parishioner were called in question by a hostile witness in a police court case in which he appeared as prosecuting witness, and became a front-page newspaper sensation. He denied everything, and resented all inquiry. Sharp and acrimonious differences of opinion rocked the church. At the end of April 1896, the tension became so great he resigned. The faction of church officers who supported him having come into control as others stepped to one side, led by Isaac H. Morse, closed the church, transferred his ministrations to a hall, and planned the sale of the church, expecting, when the trouble blew over, to build elsewhere. Their plans running into difficulties, he went East on vacation, and while there accepted a call to Chicago.

 

For the greater part of the time from January to April 1896, Dr. Brown stayed out of the pulpit, and at his invitation Prof. Lloyd, as he was universally called, officiated and preached. Ryhs Rhys Lloyd was born in Wales, March 14th, 1855, and from the time he was big enough to go down in a mine until his twenty-third birthday he spent his life as a coal miner. What education he had he picked up between shifts, or while on strike; but after his twenty-third birthday he went through Marietta College and Chicago Theological Seminary, became a successful pastor in the Chicago area, and in the nineties Professor of New Testament Greek and Exegesis at Pacific Theological Seminary. An exegetical preacher, he could, in his inimitable manner, give living reality to Biblical personages, scenes and doctrines, and, during his residence in the Bay area often occupied leading pulpits and fascinated congregations with his vivid presentations of religious truth.

 

Years of Recovery at the Turn of the Century

 

Soon after Dr. Brown went to Chicago, the church officers laid aside their differences sufficiently to invite Rev. George C. Adams, then engaged in a successful pastorate of fifteen years at Compton Hill Church, St. Louis, Missouri, to come West and survey the situation with a view to a call. He agreed, the Church was opened for three Sundays to receive him; he accepted a call; and after returning to St. Louis to close up his affairs in that city, reopened the church and began his pastorate on November 5, 1896.

 

Page 18

 

Dr. Adams was a native of Castine, Maine, a graduate of Amherst College, a solid man of medium height, then about 45 years of age.

 

The unfavorable publicity, the partial scattering of the constituency during the time the church was closed and the future uncertain, the tense feelings between many who held on, created most difficult problems, the effects of which continued long after the reopening. As a result, in the four years from 1896 to 1899 the church lost 513 members as against 157 accessions. Beyond that, the spectacle of Christians warring among themselves lowered the church's prestige in the community, and alienated substantial citizens who looked upon a church as a center of well-ordered living and good personal relations.

 

The brief, unheralded visit of Dr. Brown to the city, the year after Dr. Adams came, to step to the platform of an Association meeting then in progress to admit his fault, silenced his last-ditch defenders, but did not undo the damage the members themselves had done to the standing of the church in the community.

 

Dr. Adams combined tact with an understanding of human nature, concentrated himself with singleness of purpose on the work of the church, gathered around him official boards free from the animosities of the past, and administered affairs with sound and experienced judgment. His large family also contributed much to the church's welfare and progress. As a result, the church showed continuous gains in interest and prestige, and especially after the turn of the century regained much lost ground.

 

In those days many fine old residences, including the palaces of the railroad builders and of the bonanza kings from the Comstock lode in Nevada, still stood on Nob Hill, in their stately settings, interspersed with the other splendid mansions on its slopes, were newer flats and family hotels. An every-increasing number of boarding and rooming houses were coming into being, especially in the vicinity of the church, often in large residences of the earlier period. The population around the church was increasing, but belonged more to the white-collar and working class and less to the higher income groups than in earlier times.

 

On the issue, raised in the closing days of Dr. Brown's pastorate, whether the church should continue in its downtown location or, like its former neighbors, move to a newer residential district, Dr. Adams was of the opinion that there was a place downtown for such a church as this. The increasing momentum of the church as the years of his ministry rolled on demonstrated the soundness of his opinion. The changing environment and the changed type of minister and ministry, however, was reflected in a new constituency belonging more to the white-collar and working class and less to the higher income groups.

 

In the Summer of 1901, Dr. Adams exchanged pulpits with Rev. William M. Kinkaid of Central Union Church, Honolulu, and the latter preached here from July 21st to September 1st.

 

Much was done in the upkeep and improvement of the splendid building. In 1904 the roof and spire were covered with slate shingles, and stained glass windows placed in the clerestory which before had been closed in. The mellow light which entered brightened and beautified the main auditorium by day.

 

On Dr. Adam's tenth Easter, April 15th, 1906, he had before him the largest congregations in any Protestant church in the city, and could reasonably envision years ahead of substantial progress. The city was growing faster numerically then ever before, and his was the most constructive accomplishment of that period in the Protestant field.

 

****

 

Page 19

 

The Five Years after the Earthquake

 

Three days later, at 5:18 in the gray of the early morning, the city was shaken by a great earthquake that did immense damage, followed by vast fires which burned fiercely and uncontrolled for more than two days and two nights, burning, north of Market, as far west as Van Ness, and around Hayes Street as far west as Laguna, and, south of Market, as far east as Division, as far south as 20th Street, and as far west as Dolores.

 

It is estimated that by the time the fires were out, more than one hundred thousand of the city's population had left never to return, and that other huge segments had left temporarily or were living in improvised shelters. Among those who left thus hastily were about half of the church's constituency, and many of those who remained lost their possessions or business or employment.

 

The church building withstood the earthquake fairly well, although the brick work of the walls and spire was cracked in places near the top. But during the first night the fires began to close in, and early the next morning the building was burned down.

 

The church accepted, for the time being, the invitation of Plymouth Church to worship with it. Its spacious wooden building on Post between Buchanan and Webster was outside the fire zone, and practically undamaged by the earthquake. Dr. Adams, and Rev. I. C. Meserve, the pastor of Plymouth Church, arranged to preach alternately.

 

On the morning of May 13th, the preacher was Rev. Washington Gladden, distinguished Congregationalist minister of Columbus, Ohio, who had come West to survey the situation with a view to initiating a nation-wide program to aid the distressed churches.

 

Swept along by the immediate reaction of the community to the disaster that a bigger and better city should be built without delay on the old site, the church, on May 6th, only the third Sunday after the disaster, at the close of the morning service, adopted a resolution to rebuild on the old site.

 

This decision made, Dr. Adams hastened for its fulfillment, apparently fearing that if prompt action in that direction was not taken, the remnants of his congregation might be absorbed by Plymouth Church.

 

It happened that Dr. Adams’ most trusted church official, Barton S. Hays, was a builder, and with him Dr. Adams collaborated. To them it seemed that a tent or a flimsy structure, such as some downtown interests projected for the immediate future, would be too short lived, too lacking in comfort and stability, too unattractive; on the other hand, that the restoration of the old church would create too heavy a financial burden and constitute too great a step into an unknown future. So without architectural or engineering advice, they advocated and secured the adoption by the church of the middle course of flooring over the basement of the old building, finishing above a one-story auditorium with a comparatively low roof, and scaling down the walls that were still standing to the height this operation required. When completed, the cost of this work with furnishings and a ten-thousand-dollar organ, was about $76,000.00, fully paid for with $29,000.00 insurance, $27,000.00 in outside gifts, and $20,000.00 in subscriptions by constituents.

 

Page 20

 

The first services in the reconstructed building were held on Sunday, February 10th, 1907. The territory around the church for a half mile in very (sic) direction was still a waste, only partially cleaned up and only slowly rebuilding. Dust, dirt and rubbish were everywhere. After the first enthusiasm, many members were indisposed to go so far to church amid such surroundings. There were few visitors or transients. Attendance was small. Members and adherents, however, maintained their interest and financial support. But despite Dr. Adams' untiring efforts, recovery was disappointingly slow. There could be little doubt but that the church had moved back downtown too soon.

 

In 1908, feeling the need of a rest, Dr. Adams took a trip around the world, leaving in May and returning to the pulpit, much refreshed, on August 23rd. Two years later, in August 1910, he suffered an apoplectic stroke, and passed away September 2nd.

 

The principal pulpit supply in the months following was Rev. Madison C. Peters of New York, from October 16th, 1910, to January 1st, 1911.

 

By this time it had become apparent that most of the homes in the burnt district near the church were not being rebuilt; that the former residents were for the most part removing to residential districts three to five miles away; and that the church neighborhood itself was slowly rebuilding with high-grade apartments, hotels and clubs. It was also becoming apparent that the church building itself lacked the architectural grace and the interior appointments suited to such a neighborhood.

 

With these circumstances in mind, and in view of the current meager (sic) attendance, the committee which the church appointed to recommend a new pastor, were of the opinion that both present exigencies and future prospects made needful a pastor with unusual platform ability, and soon Isaac H. Morse of that committee, a retired businessman who had amassed a considerable competence, the church's so-called Senior Deacon, went East in search of such a man.

 

Dr. Aked's Times

 

On reaching New York City, he had the good fortune to learn that Rev. Charles F. Aked of Fifth Avenue Baptist Church, an English pulpiteer of international reputation, a progressive in thought, a crusader against war and social evils, was in the mood to make a change. Born August 27th, 1864, in Nottingham, a city about a hundred miles north of London, his first pastorate of four years was near his native city. Then, from 1890 to 1907, he had ministered to the large congregation of Pembroke Chapel, Liverpool, and from thence had come to New York City.

 

On Mr. Morse's assurance that he would devote his energies to financing and constructing an adequate plant, should Dr. Aked decide to accept a call, Dr. Aked consented to visit the city; preached February 12th, 19th and 26th, 1911, five years and a day after the last Easter in the Gothic church, with congregations that overflowed the building.

 

Large congregations that manifested great interest in Dr. Aked's personality and program, continued to attend; and, encouraged by the generous response of the community to his ministry, one of Dr. Aked's first concerns was to make of Congregationalism more of a going enterprise in the city.

 

Page 21

 

As a first step in this direction, he sought to have the then vacant pastorate of Mission Park Church filled by a man he thought able to meet the challenge of that difficult situation.

 

Such a man he thought Rev. George Laughton, then of Owosso, Michigan, an Englishman of marked pulpit ability, a successful leader and administrator, whom he had known in the old country. So, for the period of his first Summer vacation, from July 30th to August 27, 1911, Dr. Aked invited Mr. Laughton to supply at First Church, the first of many occasions extending over two decades when Mr. Laughton occupied First Church pulpit with acceptability. As a result of this visit, Mission Park Church called Mr. Laughton, and a group of First Church men underwrote for him a salary above that which Mission Park Church had been paying.

 

Then, early in 1912, when Plymouth Church asked the advice of a church council as to its best future course, Dr. Aked and Mr. Morse collaborated to purpose to Plymouth Church that it merge with First Church, sell its property, and put the proceeds into the fund they had in mind for a new building, a program finally consummated with services of union on June 2nd.

 

About the same time, Dr. Aked persuaded the Congregationalist leaders of the Bay region to try out in Green Street Church, the pulpit of which had just become vacant, a program for reaching the large Italian-speaking population then residing in the neighborhood of that church, and to call to the pastorate, supported in part by a special fund raised for that purpose, Rev. Robert Walker, whom he had known in New York City as the successful leader of such an enterprise.

 

These ventures, however, proved disappointing. The Plymouth Church merger brought into this church's active fellowship far less of Plymouth's total constituency than its advocates had hoped. At Mission Park Church, differences concerning Mr. Laughton's approach toward his duties and the problems of the church developed between him and Charles H. Ham, an old-time church official, and his extensive following; and Mr. Laughton accepted a call to Hilo, Hawaii, as his second year of service drew to a close. At Green Street Church, after three years' trial, the response of the Italian-spaking (sic) community to Mr. Walker's ministry appeared insufficient to justify its continuance, and Mr. Walker accepted a call to Bethany Church, this city.

 

On Sunday, November 17th, 1912, Dr. Aked presented this church's building project to large and enthusiastic congregations, and secured about $76,000.00 in pledges. A few months later $24,100.00 net cash was derived from the sale of the Plymouth property to the Reformed Church for its Japanese work. Soon after, the heirs of Edward Coleman who had died since the subscriptions were taken, doubled his gift of $25,000.00, and his surviving brother, John C. Coleman, doubled his of $5,000.00, and subsequently the building fund was completed.

 

The last services in the old building were held Sunday, August 17th, 1913. Thereafter, by invitation of Temple Emanu-El, the Sunday and the Wednesday evening services were held in thir (sic) synagogue at 450 Sutter Street, and by invitation of Central Methodist Church, the ladies' activities were carried on in their edifice at O'Farrell and Leavenworth.

 

Dr. Aked, true Nonconformist that he was, was of opinion that a city's unchurched multitudes were more ready to go to, and more at ease in, a non-Gothic and non-ecclesiastical edifice, and also that a building of such a type harmonizes better with downtown surroundings. He thought, moreover, that a downtown church in a big city should be large enough that the loose plate collections would sustain the preaching, leaving the other revenues for other purposes; yet not so large that it could not be filled with reasonable certainty, nor that much of the congregation was over-far from the pulpit. These considerations determined the size and style of the church edifice that church still occupies at the end of its first century, an edifice it has now occupied longer than it did the Gothic church. For sound engineering, good workmanship, and artistic qualities, and for its completion within the allotted appropriation, credit is due to the architect, James W. Reid, of the firm of Reid Brothers, men eminent in their profession.

 

Page 22

 

The new building was opened on Sunday, February 28th, 1915, with services at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Its final cost, with extras and furnishings, amounted to $169,665.00 After all contributions were totaled up, there remained a debt of only $6,167.00

 

The year 1915 was one of very great brilliance in the history of the church notwithstanding the dark cloud of the First World War. The Panama-Pacific Exposition had opened February 20th, to run until December 4th, and throughout the year eager congregations filled the building to overflowing, and the church's various activities enlisted large and increasing support.

 

A number of factors, apart from the throngs of visitors in the city attending the Exposition, contributed to this result.

 

Not the least of these was Dr. Aked's personality. Not quite 47 when he first came to the city, his spiritual approach to this duties satisfied the religious needs of his constituency; his personal appearance and demeanor were faultless; his voice agreeable, well-modulated and sufficient in volume.

 

In a period when in the realm of political action progressive thought, as personified in the political leaders of the day, was upsetting the old order, Dr. Aked's political and social philosophy found ready response in many thinking people who had accepted an advanced program. In a community where as many as a hundred thousand persons of Protestant ancestry had lost contact with Protestantism, Dr. Aked's broad knowledge of English letters and poetry, his outspoken acceptance of current scientific conclusions, and his controversial approach to these questions, interested many who had drifted outside the orbit of organized Christianity. His well-prepared sermons challenged attention because of the carefully considered innovations from religious and secular orthodoxy they contained.

 

Internal Conflict and Weakness

 

On Saturday, November 27th, 1915, just a week before the closing of the Exposition, Dr. Aked received from Henry Ford, the automobile magnate, a telegraphic invitation to join him, and the large company he had invited, on a goodwill peace mission to Europe, on a steamship he had chartered, in an attempt to mediate between the nations than engaged in the First World War.

 

The purpose of this mission appealed strongly to Dr. Aked, more especially since he had been a strong opponent of war all his life, and from his pulpit in Liverpool, England, had denounced the British War against the Boers in South Africa at great personal risk. So on Sunday morning he presented the matter to the church's official boards, took a leave of absence, explained his decision to the morning and evening congregations, and left for Europe on Monday.

 

On January 14th, 1916, he wrote to Isaac H. Morse, the church's Senior Deacon, from The Hague, expressing deep regret at his protracted absence, the end of which was not in sight, and offering his resignation, or in lieu, if consonant with the church's desires and interests, asking an indefinite leave of absence without pay. Mr. Morse disclosed to the church only the resignation, which was on a separate piece of paper, and it was accepted by majority vote, though with some reluctance.

 

Page 23

 

A few months later, Dr. Aked's full message becoming known, it was sought at two different church meetings to recall him to the pastorate, but those favoring this course, while mustering a majority vote, could not muster the necessary two-thirds vote, and the attempts failed.

 

Much criticism arose of Mr. Morse's action and the tacit approval of that action by the church's official boards, and membership and congregations became greatly depleted.

 

In December 1916 a movement to organize a so-called interdenominational church was launched, and no less than 237 members recruited, about a third from the membership of this church, with the avowed purpose of bringing Dr. Aked back to this city. He refused, however, on the ground that he could not come without injury to this church.

 

In February 1917, he accepted an engagement with the church at Riverside, California, for the period of the War; from 1919 to 1924 acted as a pastor of the First Church, Kansas City, Missouri; and afterwards made his home in Los Angeles. In later years he preached each Sunday morning at the Ambassador Hotel auditorium to large and attentive congregations, as minister of All Souls Church. His death occurred on August 12th, 1941.

 

Notable among pulpit supplies after Dr. Aked left on the Ford expedition were: President Edward Dwight Eaton of Beloit College in December 1915; Rev. Henry Stiles Bradley of Worcester, Massachusetts, July 16th to August 6th, 1916; Rev. George Laughton, then of Hilo, Hawaii, August 13th to September 3rd, 1916; Rev. R. R. Meredith, formerly of Brooklyn, New York, then retired at Pasadena, October 8th to November 25th, 1916; Rev. William T. McElveen of Evanston, Illinois, February 11th to 25th, 1917; and Rev. Byron H. Stauffer of Bond Street Church, Toronto, Canada, in July 1917.

 

Dr. Bradley and Dr. McElveen refused calls which were extended. But Mr. Stauffer accepted a call extended August 15th, 1917, and preached his first sermons as pastor October 7th, 1917.

 

Mr. Stauffer had begun his career as an attorney at law, and later had entered the ministry, and became known as one of the foremost preachers in Canada. At Bond Street Church he had done a very successful work. But in San Francisco he found before him a very much more difficult task than he had anticipated. Sermon topics that in Toronto would bring capacity congregations did not enlist attention. Neither the church membership nor the congregation rallied to his leadership, notwithstanding the unfailing friendliness of his approach as well to those who had held out for Dr. Aked's return and had opposed his coming, as to those who favored his coming. So when, in the Fall of 1918, an invitation came to him to the pastorate of Central Church, Winnipeg, Canada, he presented his resignation, and it was accepted to take effect at his convenience. He preached his last sermons on Sunday, December 15th, and began his work at Winnipeg a week later.

 

After a short ministry in Winnipeg, he returned to Toronto, and there carried on with his old-time power for a year or two until his sudden death.

 

Page 24

 

In the Fall of 1918, the work of the church was interrupted by the flu epidemic then sweeping the county. The first case was reported to the local Board of Health on October 1st; the number reported daily increased by leaps and bounds until on October 25th it reached a high of 2,006; the number then fell off rapidly until by mid-November it was negligible. As a result, the Board of Health in mid-October issued a directive against public assemblies for the time being, and, beginning Sunday, October 19th, this church was closed for four Sundays and all its activities discontinued.

 

During Mr. Stauffer's 1918 vacation, the pulpit was occupied on July 21st and 28th by Rev. Herbert Booth Smith of Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Los Angeles, and then for the month of August by Rev. J. B. Silcox, a venerable man of distinction. And when Mr. Stauffer's resignation took effect, Dr. Silcox again occupied the pulpit until May 18th, 1919.

 

Dr. Silcox, who in years long past had twice been pastor of Central Church, Winnipeg, to which Mr. Stauffer had gone, recommended as the man best suited for the pastorate of this church, one of his successors at Central Church, Rev. James Logan Gordon, then of First Church, Washington, D.C., and secured from Dr. Gordon a promise to give a call, if extended, his careful and open-minded consideration.

 

Spiritual Awakening under Dynamic Leadership

 

On May 7th, 1919, the church called Dr. Gordon. He came West, surveyed the field, preached on Sundays June 8th and 15th, conferred with church officers, returned home, accepted, and began his ministry on October 5th.

 

Born on March 28th, 1858, he was at that time in his sixty-second year, the oldest of the ministers the church had called, but still possessed of the buoyance, enthusiasm and enterprise of youth, and in full possession of health and strength. He had started life as a clerk in John Wanamaker's store in Philadelphia, his native city; later had entered Y.M.C.A. work and became a general secretary; and afterwards had held three pastorates in Canada and been much in demand on the Chautauqua platform. Dr. Gordon thus brought to his new task a varied and well-founded experience, and a background of successful achievement, but was, however, wholly unknown in San Francisco.

 

Pending his arrival, Rev. Lewis T. Reed of New York preached from July 13th to August 17th, and Rev. George Laughton on August 24th and 31st.

 

The difficult problems, that had confronted Dr. Stauffer had intensified as time had passed, and to these Dr. Gordon made an experimental approach.

 

One of the first things he did was to substitute for a set address at the church's Wednesday evening meetings a Question Drawer. This he handled in a very adept manner, dealing briefly and thoughtfully at each meeting with about ten questions he himself selected, touching widely different phases of current life, and often of a controversial nature, thus drawing the attention of listener of varied interests. As a result these meetings began to grow, and before his first Winter was over, overflowed the downstairs lecture hall and had to be moved to the church's main auditorium.

 

Meanwhile attendance at Sunday services had shown little increase. So on March 14th, 1920, he substituted a Sunday night Question Drawer for a sermon, and soon the Sunday night attendance began to tax the capacity of the building.

 

As he became better known, all branches of the church's activity took on renewed life, and many new recruits joined in the church work and support.

 

Page 25

 

Distinguished visitors frequently occupied seats on the platform at Sunday services.

 

On May 11th, 1924, Gipsy Smith, celebrated evangelist, was guest preacher at both services; on May 24th, 1925, Ballington Booth, founder and president of the Volunteers of America, at the morning service; on September 20th, 1925, Dr. Aked who also lectured on the three week-nights following.

 

On April 10th, 1921, Rev. James Whitcomb Brougher of Temple Baptist Church, Los Angeles, preached by exchange with Dr. Gordon.

 

A number of special week-night courses in applied psychology were given by specialists in that field. A first-class motion picture machine was installed in the main auditorium, and a Thursday evening program of music and motion pictures inaugurated under the chairmanship of Ernest H. Dettner, Sr.

 

From the Summer of 1918 on, while residing in the city as Associate and afterwards Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, Curtis D. Wilbur conducted a forum before the Sunday morning service; and when, near the end of March 1924, he went on to Washington as Secretary of the Navy, Mrs. Minerva N. Swain took over in his behalf as director of the forum and fulfilled the difficult task of securing speakers into the middle thirties, when her health failed.

 

The organ was gradually improved by the addition of great diapason and pedal stops, an echo organ, chimes, harp, and a new and enlarged console, the harp and console a gift of Isaac H. Morse. In 1922, Uda Waldrop, then municipal organist, gave a series of noon-day organ recitals.

 

An incident of a different sort took place on Sunday evening, November 26th, 1922. Ever since the opening of the building, the small room off the west gallery, more recently used for marriage ceremonies, had been used to count the various collections, which were then taken to a safe deposit vault that was open at all hours. After service on the evening mentioned, as Charles M. Bufford of the counting committee was beginning to count the collection in that room, two armed thugs entered, took from him at the point of a gun the estimated $250.00 in the collection, tied him up quite thoroughly, and successfully made their escape.

 

From December 3, 1922, to July 1st, 1923, Dr. and Mrs. Gordon were absent, the guests of L. H. Sly, a trustee of the church, on a trip around the world. During June, July and August 1924, Dr. Gordon was away on a Chautauqua lecture tour. Following Easter, April 4th, 1926, to July 4th, he spent three months in needed rest and recreation.

 

Sometimes, during Dr. Gordon's absences, the pulpit was occupied by distinguished preachers from afar, as Rev. R. J. Campbell of City Temple, London, from June 5th to August 7th, 1921; Rev. Frederick F. Shannon of Central Church, Chicago, June 8th to July 27th, 1924; and Rev. J. Ernest James of Melbourne, Australia, August 17th to 24th, 1924.

 

From July 4th to August 22nd, 1920, during Dr. Gordon’s vacation, his brother S. D. Gordon, well-known in those times for his “Quiet Talks,” officiated and gave a series of such talks.

 

From April 4th to May 20th, 1923, David Starr Jordon, then Chancellor of Stanford University, was guest speaker at the Wednesday evening gatherings.

 

During the years of his presidency of Pacific School of Religion, Rev. Herman F. Swartz was a welcome guest preacher on many occasions. He first was in the pulpit for the month of April 1922, during a brief absence of Dr. Gordon, shortly after he took up the presidency, and again on December 10th. Again in 1923, while Dr. Gordon was going around the world, he occupied the pulpit through April and May. Both in 1922, when Easter fell on April 16th, and in 1923, when on April 1st, Dr. Swartz officiated on that important Sunday. And frequently in later years, as on April 11th, 1926, and again during December 1926, the church was so fortunate as to have his acceptable services in the pulpit.

 

Page 26

 

In the Fall of 1926, while the upsurge in the life of the church was in full swing, Dr. Gordon, then sixty-eight and beginning to feel his mounting years, resigned, and preached his last sermons on November 28th.

 

Moving to Los Angeles, he conducted Sunday evening preaching services from time to time in halls and theatres. His last regular ministerial work was to supply Tenth Avenue Baptist Church, Oakland, during Rev. George W. Phillips' absence in the Summer of 1929. Returning to Los Angeles, failing health brought to a halt his public services. He died at Livermore Sanitarium on October 11th, 1930. Funeral services were held in this church October 14th.

 

Early in 1927, the church invited Rev. Chauncey J. Hawkins, then at Plymouth Church, Seattle, the leading Congregationalist Church in the Pacific Northwest, to visit the city and meet the church's constituency and official boards, with a view to a call. In response, he came and preached April 24th, 1927; a call was extended and accepted, and he began his ministry August 7th.

 

In the interim, during May, June and July, the pulpit was occupied by a woman preacher, Rheba Crawford. She was the daughter of an officer in the Salvation Army, and was brought up in the Army. After the First World War, when scarcely out of her teens, she gained nation-wide publicity by reason of the great throngs her preaching drew on the streets of New York City. Silenced by the Army because she did not conform to its standards of orthodoxy, she returned to her home in this city, was befriended by Dr. Gordon, and later ordained a Congregationalist minister. In 1925, she conducted a two-weeks' preaching mission in the church, beginning with a Sunday afternoon meeting for women on June 21st, and ending by preaching both, morning and evening on July 5th. During her three months in the pulpit in 1927, she preached to increasing congregations, and on her last Sunday evening every seat in the auditorium was taken.

 

Dr. Hawkins had been brought up on a farm near Vacaville, and was the first of the church's ministers to be a native Californian. A graduate of Yale Divinity School, his first pastorates had been in New England.

 

Under his able leadership the work of the church continued on a high level. While the edifice was not thronged with great crowds as during Dr. Gordon's ministry, the morning congregation averaged over eight hundred, the evening over one thousand, and accessions to membership were more than one hundred twenty-five per year. The balanced budget contained adequate amounts for the upkeep and progressive renovations of the building. On Wednesday evenings, in the Fall and Spring seasons of each year, he introduced a fellowship dinner followed by music and lecture courses. Among his lecture themes were “The World's Great Religions”; “The World's Great Philosophers”; “The School of the Prophets”; and “English Writers of the Victorian Age.”

 

Distinguished preachers occupied the pulpit during his vacations: Rev. Frederick F. Shannon of Central Church, Chicago, July 1928; Rev. Josiah Sibley of Pasadena, June 23rd to July 14th, 1929; Rev. George Laughton, then of Toledo, Ohio, July 6th to August 3rd, 1930.

 

Page 27

 

The Impact of the Depression

 

On August 9th, 1930, Dr. Hawkins' ministry was suddenly ended by his tragic death, when his automobile rolled over a steep embankment as he was returning from a vacation in General Grant National Park.

 

Then followed a long period of indecision respecting the choice of his successor, and the church entered the great Depression without a leader.

 

The pulpit, however, was often occupied by outstanding preachers. Among them were:

 

President Herman F. Swartz of Pacific School of Religion, August 10th and the morning of October 26th in 1930; February 22nd, March 1st, April 5th, November 1st, and mornings from March 8th to 29th in 1931.

Rev. Herbert Booth Smith of Los Angeles, August 24th, the morning of August 31st, and the evening of October 26th, 1930.

Rev. Laurence L. Cross of Berkeley, the evening of August 31st, 1930; evenings from March 8th to 29th, 1931.

Rev. Jason Noble Pierce of Washington, D.C., September 14th, 21st and 28th, 1930.

Rev. Charles E. Jefferson, formerly of Broadway Tabernacle, New York City, the morning of October 5th, 1930.

Rev. Charles Haven Myers, then sojourning near Seattle, November 2nd and 9th, 1930; September 13th to October 11th, 1931.

Rev. T. E. Ruth of Sydney, Australia, November 16th and 30th, and the evening of November 23rd, 1930.

Rev. Charles F. Aked, February 1st, 1931.

Rev. Vaughan Dabney of Boston, May 31st to June 21st, 1931.

Rev. Josiah Sibley of Pasadena, June 28th, 1931.

Rev. Warren Wheeler Pickett of Forest Hills, Long Island, July 5th to 26th, 1931.

Rev. Edward Archibald Thompson of Pasadena, September 6th, 1931.

Rev. L .Wendell Fifield of Seattle, October 18th and 25th, 1931.

 

Among these distinguished ministers was also included Rev. Kerrison Juniper, who preached from August 2nd to 30th, 1931, and to whom a call was extended on November 1st. Dr. Juniper accepted and preached his first sermons as pastor December 6th. He was an Englishman with a diversified experience. His pastorates had taken him to Australia and South Africa. At the time of the call he was engaged in a pastorate of thirteen years in St. Petersburg, Florida, where winter tourists crowded his church. During the First World War, he had been for a time with the Y.M.C.A. in France.

 

In San Francisco circumstances were against him. The constituency did not rally around him, or to his program, nor did a new constituency come into being. The changes in church office personnel he made in his first month, contrary to assurances he had given those instrumental in securing him the call, created antagonisms. He was unable to arrest the deflationary factors in the church, as the nation itself was fast approaching the bottom of the most devastating depression in history. Under these disheartening conditions, and out of agreement with the church's official boards as to policies to be pursued, he presented his resignation. His last Sunday in the pulpit was March 5th, 1933, fifteen months after his first Sunday. More recently, Dr. Juniper has again occupied pastorates in Florida.

 

Page 28

 

Sunday evening, October 9th, 1932, was an interesting occasion in his ministry, the guest preacher being Rev. George A. Buttruck of Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York City, who was then on his way East after addressing the Pacific Slope Congregational Congress in San Diego. Sunday, February 20th, 1933, also was noteworthy, because of the presence in the pulpit of guest speakers from “The Oxford Groups.” The morning speakers were Mme. Emmanuel de Troy of Zurich, Switzerland, and James Watt of Edinburgh, Scotland; and in the evening, the leader of the Movement itself, Rev. Frank M. D. Buckman, was the speaker.

 

In the interim after the close of Dr. Juniper's pastorate, Rev. Harley H. Gill, Conference Superintendent, preached from March 12th to April 16th, 1933, and Rev. Dwight Bradley of Newton, Massachusetts, on the morning of April 30th.

 

Almost immediately after Dr. Juniper's departure the attention of the church was directed to Rev. Jason Nobel Pierce, who had occupied the pulpit in the late Summer of 1930. At that time Dr. Pierce was pastor of the First Congregational Church of Washington, D. C., but shortly afterwards had gone to Tennessee, and then in 1932 to the pastorate of the Christian Temple, Norfolk, Virginia.

 

Some warm personal friends with whom Dr. Pierce had kept up a correspondence since his visit to the city in 1930, called attention to his availability to Curtis D. Wilbur, who then occupied key positions on the church's official boards. Both Judge Wilbur and his wife like the suggestion, as both had warm personal regards for Dr. Pierce, dating back to their residence in Washington in the middle and late twenties, when Judge Wilbur was President Coolidge's Secretary of the Navy, and Dr. Pierce was pastor of the First Congregational Church. Quickly a call was extended to Dr. Pierce; he accepted, and preached his first sermons on June 4th, 1933.

 

Born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, August 28th, 1880, the son of a clergyman, Dr. Pierce had spent his youth for most part in New England. A graduate of Amherst College and of Yale Divinity School, his first pastorate was at Davenport Church, New Haven, from 1906 to 1908; and after intermediate pastorates elsewhere, he had gone to First Church, Washington, in 1920.

 

In the three years since Dr. Hawkins' death, this church's membership had decreased from 939 to little over 600; the pledged support of almost $20,000.00 per year had shrunk to less than $9,000.00, and church activities had fallen off in proportion. Nevertheless, Dr. Pierce's pastorate started off with considerable promise. His warm personal approach created many friendships, and the optimism that spread abroad in the first flush of the New Deal made for a better psychological atmosphere in which to do church work.

 

The evening of Sunday, August 20th, 1933, was noteworthy for the commissioning of Judge Wilbur's son, Leonard F., a recent graduate of Stanford University School of Medicine, and his wife, Jean B. Spaulding, who had been married on July 15th, as American Board missionaries to North China, a tour of duty ended by his lamented death from typhus a few years later.

 

From time to time Dr. Pierce invited people of prominence in the affairs of the community or nation to address a congregation, as, for instance, William Green, President of the American Federation of Labor, who spoke from the pulpit Sunday morning, October 7th, 1934.

 

During his absence on vacations, Dr. Pierce also at times invited preachers of note to occupy the pulpit. Thus Rev. Edward Archibald Thompson of Grand Rapids officiated from August 16th to September 6th, 1936, and again, during the joint vacation of the pastors of the uniting churches, from August 1st to September 5th, 1937, and Rev. Bob Shuler of Los Angeles on September 8th, 1946.

 

Page 29

 

On August 18th and 25th, 1933, Rev. Torrance Phelps, who had succeeded Dr. Thompson at Pasadena, occupied the pulpit as vacation supply, and it is of interest that he has spent one or two Sundays in August in many of the succeeding years in the same way to the satisfaction of the congregation.

 

The most difficult problem in the early years of Dr. Pierce's ministry was that of finance. Notwithstanding the earnest efforts of finance committees, by the Spring of 1937 an operating deficit of about $7,000.00 had accumulated since the beginning of his pastorate, and the continuing deficit was becoming a matter of concern to church officers entrusted with money matters.

 

Federation with Methodists

 

At this juncture, in early May 1937, its property slipped out from under Temple Methodist Church, then the center of San Francisco Methodism, through foreclosure of the mortgage upon it; and Dr. Pierce and Rev. Edgar Allan Lowther, the Methodist pastor, being on very cordial terms, Temple Church accepted the invitation of Dr. Pierce and Judge Wilbur to come and worship with this church, with a view to federation of the two churches. They urged that such a move would bring renewed strength and vitality to both churches, relieve both of their current financial problems, and set an example of Christian unity.

 

Joint worship began on Sunday, May 16th, 1937, and before the end of the month a plan of federation was adopted and placed in operation, whereby all members of both churches at the time of federation, and all new members afterwards received, were placed on a united-church roll, and all church activities, including some formerly carried on by each, and others newly initiated by the federated church, were carried on by the latter. The two federating churches, beyond maintaining their separate organizations in functioning condition, were inactive. The two pastors became co-pastors of the federated church; a more ambitious musical program was introduced; and expenses in other directions thought desirable were increased or newly incurred.

 

The plan was on an experimental basis, each church reserving the right to terminate it; in that event the new members of the federated group were to have the right to choose between the constituent churches.

 

In practice, the federation did not work out as well as hoped. The combined congregation was not equal to the sum of the uniting congregations; the impetus of denominational loyalty was lessened; accessions to membership were not as great as hoped; and the financing of the work proved difficult. On the other hand, the new friendships that developed proved worthwhile; the former leaders of the two churches worked together harmoniously and well; and Temple Church was afforded a much needed breathing spell from financial troubles that it had not been able to surmount.

 

As time went on, however, temperamental differences between the co-pastors developed, and each began to doubt the other's good faith and fairness, until in the early Fall of 1941 Dr. Pierce became convinced that the time had come for a dissolution of the federation, and appointed a committee to work out the details. This committee proceeded with its task not without the active disapproval of Judge Wilbur and the numerous officers of the church whom he swung to his view that federation was intrinsically desirable and should be continued. Dissolution, however, was supported both by Dr. Pierce's strong personal following and by those who believed in perpetuating a historic Congregationalist church, and was finally approved by a vote of 82 to 19.

 

Page 30

 

 

War and Post-War Years

 

On Sunday, December 21st, the two churches resumed separate worship, and from thence each went ahead in its traditional way far better than the opponents of dissolution had predicted. Of those who had joined while federation was in effect, sixty-eight elected to place their membership with First Church, a considerably larger number with Temple Church.

 

The Second World War, into which the United States had become involved on the eve of the dissolution of the federation, did not have any marked effect upon the work of First Church for almost two years. In the Fall of 1943, however, the economic effects of full employment upon the civilian population and the psychological effects of life's uncertainty upon military personnel, began to appear in gains in attendance and contributions, which reached a climax in 1945 as Victory approached, and then entered on a slow decline.

 

As early as 1943 Dr. Pierce began to show some impairment of general health. But his condition did not deteriorate rapidly, nor for some years did it interfere with his continued functioning in his accustomed manner. In the summer of 1947, however, his health took a sudden turn for the worse, and in late November, being unable to go on, he presented his resignation, to take effect December 1st. This was accepted, and Dr. Pierce elected pastor emeritus. Thereafter he failed rapidly, and died on March 16th, 1948.

 

It had happened in the early Summer of 1947 that Lesley R. Jackson, a church member very desirous of a strong Christian educational and Young People's work in the church, had offered to underwrite the salary of a director of that work for an experimental two-year period. This generous offer had been accepted, and one of Dr. Pierce's last official acts before being overtaken by the illness which eventuated in his retirement, was the appointment of Rev. James H. Woodruff to this directorship for a two-year term from September 1st,1947. Dr. Woodruff was a minister in the Disciples' Church, with a varied experience in pastoral leadership of Disciples' churches and in institutional superintendencies, whom Dr. Pierce had come to know quite well and favorably in the years they had both dwelt in this city. But, as Dr. Pierce was stricken with this illness even before Dr. Woodruff had begun his term of service, it transpired that from the very beginning Dr. Woodruff's attention was for the most part diverted from a ministry to youth to various pastoral duties, including at times the conduct of Sunday services. In these, and other later diversions of Dr. Woodruff's activities, Mr. Jackson generously acquiesced.

 

So in the months following Dr. Pierce's resignation, the pulpit was supplied in part by Dr. Woodruff.  Rev. John Wells Rahill, most recently of Port Huron, Michigan, and then residing in semi-retirement in Berkeley, also supplied to a considerable extent.

 

In April 1948 Rev. James Gordon Gilkey, Jr., came West at the invitation of the church's pastoral committee, and spent about a week in the city, preaching at both services on April 18th.

 

Mr. Gilkey was the son of the well-known Congregationalist minister of Springfield, Massachusetts, of the same name. A graduate of Harvard University and of Union Seminary, not quite thirty-one years of age, he had been a Navy Chaplain during the Second World War, and for the four years just ending pastor of Plymouth Church, the principal Congregationalist church of Utica, New York. In this pastorate he had done a constructive job and had made an impression upon the community.

 

 

Page 31

 

After surveying the local field, Mr. Gilkey took the view that here too he could make an impression upon the community and enlist church support, provided he had a large staff of his own choosing and a refurbished plant. His program accepted by affirmative vote of the church's official boards, he accepted a call, preached his first sermons on September 12th and went ahead with his program on an extensive scale.

 

The response to his program by the church and community doubtless was not as prompt or generous as its advocates had hoped, and the campaign to finance it lagged. By year's end over $20,000.00 more had been expended than was in sight, and it did not appear that the 1949 budget could be balanced. On December 28th, Mr. Gilkey flew East on two weeks' leave, and while there accepted an appointment on the Gamble Company staff then engaged in a campaign for a million dollars additional endowment for Syracuse University. Returning to San Francisco January 12th, he presented his resignation to the Board of Trustees and Deacons, effective immediately, and left to enter upon his new work.

 

Dr. Woodruff then became the church's “Acting Minister.” For when Mr. Gilkey took up his duties as pastor, he had named himself and Dr. Woodruff, on the church's various publications and announcements, its “ministers.” As afterwards transpired, the term of service for which Dr. Woodruff had been engaged, ended at the very moment the pastorate of Mr. Gilkey's successor began.

 

Owing to the lack of a settled pastor at the time of the church's centennial, July 29th, 1949, the celebration of that event was somewhat limited in scope. On Sunday morning, July 31st, Dr. Woodruff preached an appropriate sermon. At three o'clock in the afternoon of that day, the church's centennial committee presented a pageant, written and produced under the direction of one of the church's members, Mrs. Anna Blake Mezquida, depicting the events which resulted in the church's organization. This was given outdoors on a platform in the public square at Clay and Kearny, close by a replica of the school house in which the church had been organized in 1849 – structures the city had erected in connection with its celebration of the California centennial.

 

On Sunday, April 3rd, 1949, Rev. William Elbert McCormack of First Church, Springfield, Massachusetts, occupied the pulpit at both services, by invitation of the pastoral committee; and on April 22nd the church extended him a call, which he accepted a few days later.

 

A native of Missouri about 45 years of age, Dr. McCormack was educated in the Middle West; spent a while as assistant to Rev. Vere V. Loper at the First Congregational Church in Wilmette, Illinois; and went on to successful pastorates at Champaign and Aurora, Illinois, and at First Church, Springfield, Massachusetts. During his nine-year pastorate in the latter city, the church made substantial gains in membership, religious interest and financial support; cleared an old indebtedness; and paid for extensive additions to its splendid plant.

 

In preparation for his coming, the church purchased a spacious parsonage at 15 Aptos Avenue, beyond St. Francis Wood, in Balboa Terrace, which it financed from the proceeds of a three percent loan from the Board of Home Missions.

 

On September 4th, 1949, Dr. McCormack preached his first sermons as pastor to substantial congregations, and won the hearts of the people by his friendly greetings at the door as they left the services.

 

Page 32-35 Church By-laws

 

 

Page 36

 

 

ORGANIZATIONS

 

Many groups for useful educational and social fellowship under Christian auspices.

 

CAREER GIRLS

Chairman – Ena Rodrick

Co-Chairman – Arline Lewis

Secretary – Jane Walton

Treasurer – Rebecca Henderson

 

PURPOSE

Uniting young business and professional women in a useful fellowship for mutual help in social, recreational, educational and service activities. Meets every Tuesday evening.

 

 

 

CHORUS CHOIR

President – Leona Hapgood

Vice-President – Roy W. Coultas

Secretary-Treasurer – Josephine Small

Librarian – Mrs. John Hooper

 

PURPOSE

The purpose of the Chorus Choir is to lead the congregation in worship through the medium of music in the singing of hymns and the rendering of appropriate anthems and service music. Rehearsal each Thursday.

 

 

 

THE CHURCH SCHOOL

 

Superintendent – Beryl Lohse

Secretary – Dorothy Vaughan

Treasurer – Chris R. Weisz

 

Cradle Roll Department

(From birth to 3 years)

 

Page 37

 

Superintendent – Mrs. William E. McCormack

Through baptism, correspondence with parents, and birthday remembrances, the little child is related to the church.

 

Nursery Department

(Ages 2 and 3)

Superintendent – Sheila Ballou

Leaders: Noreen Phillips

Ena Rodrick

Sundays at 11:00 a.m. Supervised play with homemaking equipment, etc. Religious experience through contacts with teachers – gaining a sense of security, learning appreciations, building foundations for worship, and developing skills in association with other children.

 

Kindergarten Class

(Ages 4 and 5)

Leaders: Jean B. Wilbur

Lois Waddington

Sundays at 11:00 a.m. Program of guided experience including play with homemaking equipment, etc., stories, picture study, conversation, worship, activities.

 

Primary Class

(Grades 1 and 2)

Leader: Marie Heller

Sundays at 11:00 a.m. Session includes opening period of worship in the sanctuary, class period with activities, stories, songs, etc.

 

Upper Primary Class

(Grades 3 and 4)

Leaders: Mary Mathews

Irene Dinger

Sundays at 11:00 a.m. Program of class study, group worship, activities, educational trips, service projects, and occasional recreational events.

Junior Class

(Grades 5 and 6)

Leader: Phyllis Day

Sundays at 11:00 a.m. Class study, group worship, activities, educational trips, service projects, and social events.

 

 

Junior High Class

(Grades 7, 8 and 9)

Leader: Roy Bedell

Sundays at 11:00 a.m. Group worship and class study.

 

 

Pilgrim Fellowship

(Senior High School)

Leader: Ruth Palmer

President: Nancy Adams

Sundays at 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Program of religious, social, and service activities.

 

 

Young Adult Fellowship

(For college and young unmarried business people up to 30 years of age)

President: William McCormack

Vice-President: M. H. Friedrickson

Secretary: Ena Rodrick

Treasurer: Lois Waddington

Sundays at 8:30 p.m. The purpose is: 1) to arrange for stimulating and informative discussions on vital subjects; 2) to train young people in leadership; 3) to enlist the services and leadership of young adults in significant tasks; 4) to provide opportunity for recreational activities and friendships.

 

 

 

 

 

Adult Class

This group meets at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays for study and discussion of Christian solutions to problems of contemporary living.

 

The Curriculum of the Church School

In our Church School we use Pilgrim Series materials. Pilgrim Series is a group-graded curriculum which unifies the entire work of the church school, and unites the church and its homes in a common program. The grading is by two or three grade departments, instead of by classes which enroll pupils of but a single grade. Materials are provided for all ages, from nursery through adult years.

 

 

Page 38

 

The distinguishing features of this series are: (1) there is a common quarterly theme for all departments above the kindergarten; (2) each of the courses deals with a different phase of this theme, one which is most appropriate for the age for which it is planned; (3) interesting materials and activities for families are related to the theme of the quarter; (4) a quarterly all-church event, activity or project is suggested; it grows out of the study and work of the departments; (5) a quarterly Program Manual give full details about all aspects of the program for the three-month period; (6) this Program Manual includes complete outlines for monthly workers' conferences at which teachers learn more about the subject being taught and prepare for the work of the coming weeks; (7) thirteen worship plans, with appropriate stories to tell, are printed in this quarterly Program Manual; (8) visual materials on the subject of the quarter are available.

 

 

 

 

PIONEER COUPLES CLUB

 

Presidents- Mr. and Mrs. William H. Hudson

Vice-Presidents- Mr. and Mrs. Lyal Ingersol

Secretaries- Mr. and Mrs. Wilfred Sidebottom

Treasurers- Mr. and Mrs. Harold Tucker

 

PURPOSE

Married couples whose average age is over forty are invited to join this club for married people. Meetings are held twice each month with a social and recreational program. Meets second Friday evening.

 

 

 

FIFTY-FIFTY CLUB

President- Mr. and Mrs. Robert M. Iobst

Vice-Presidents- Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Sengenberger

Secretaries- Mr. and Mrs. L. C. Norgaard

Treasurers- Mr. and Mrs. Donald Gahagen

 

PURPOSE

This club was organized for the promotion of friendship among young married couples in the age range from twenty-five to forty. Meets every other Friday evening.

 

 

MEN'S CLUB

President- Harry C. Carpenter

Vice-President- Wilfred Sidebottom

Secretary- J. W. Payne

Treasurer- Chris R. Weisz

 

PURPOSE

Organized to provide mutual acquaintance and to promote educational, social, and spiritual growth for the men of First Congregational Church, the Men's Club invites the men of the church to meet once each month for dinner and program. Meets on first Tuesday evening.

 

 

RED CROSS CHAPTER

Chairman- Mrs. Eunice Harding

 

PURPOSE

Accepts responsibility as a part of the sewing units of the American Red Cross and invites all women of whatever church or faith to assist in the sewing. Meets every Wednesday.

 

 

WOMEN'S ASSOCIATION

 

President- Mrs. David K. Blair

Vice-Presidents- Mrs. Harry C. Carpenter, Mrs. Mary H. Pringle, Mrs. Raymond A. Fuller

Recording Secretary- Mrs. Janet W. Newbury

Corresponding Secretary- Mrs. Carlotta Robinson

Treasurer- Mrs. Amy F. Turner

Auditor- Miss Edna L. Gilbert

Registrar- Mrs. C. P. McDonald

Parliamentarian- Mrs. Wilfred Sidebottom

 

 

 

Committee Chairmen:

Hospitality and Membership- Mrs. John R. Bennett

Flowers and Remembrances- Mrs. T. M. Flinn

Finance- Mrs. W. H. Sale

House- Mrs. E. David Akers

Nominating- Mrs. Wilfred Sidebottom, Mrs. Cyrus Washburn, Mrs. Raymond A. Fuller

Publicity- Mrs. Anna G. Mezquida

Circle Chairmen:

Montgomery Circle- Mrs. Clara Montgomery-Second Tuesday

McIntosh Circle- Mrs. Rhoda McIntosh-Third Thursday

Harper Circle- Mrs. E. B. Harper-First Tuesday

Vaughan Circle- Mrs. Grace B. Vaughan-Third Tuesday

Moss Circle- Mrs. Charles W. Moss-Second Thursday

Lee Circle (evening group)- Mrs. Dorothy Lee-First Monday

Maynard Circle (evening group)- Mrs. Kate Maynard-Third Friday

 

 

PURPOSE

To promote religious and social life among the women of the church, to enlarge their understanding of the work of the church, and in all appropriate ways to support the welfare of the church and the Federation of Congregational Women of Northern California. Meets first Thursday of the month.

 

 

Pages 39-40

 

 

MULTIPLE PARISH PLAN

 

NORTH BEACH-POSTAL ZONES 4, 5, 8, 11

Deacon, Harry C. Carpenter, 901 California Street, YU 2-0240

Deaconess, Lela H. Millard, 321 Grant Avenue, SU 1-6133

Men's Club Member, John Linehan, 707 Stockton Street

Women's Association Member, Edna L. Gilbert, 650 Bush Street, GA 1-4450

Pioneer Couples Club Members, Mr. and Mrs. Harry C. Carpenter, 901 California Street, YU 2-0240

Career Girls Member, Vera J. Harris, 770 California Street, GA 1-1044

Young Adult Fellowship Member, Lillian Lynne Caldwell, 1070 Green Street, TU 5-9526

Callers: Edna L. Gilbert, Elva H. Carpenter, Mary Cookingham

 

 

MARINA – PACIFIC HEIGHTS, POSTAL ZONES 23, 15

Deacon, W. Homer Sale, 3820 Scott Street, WA 1-7243

Deacon, Charles M. Bufford, 1834 Sutter Street, FI 6-0747

Deaconess, Josephine E. Sale, 3820 Scott Street, WA 1-7243

Deaconess, Flora Lichtenfels, 139 Mallorca Way, WE 1-2543

Men's Club Member, Caleb G. Cullen, 126 Alhambra Street, FI 6-2027

Women's Association Member, Mary H. Pringle, 3043 Jackson Street, WE 1-7003

Pioneer Couples Club Members, Mr. and Mrs. Trevor Evans, 2901 Gough Street

Fifty-Fifty Club Members, Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Sengenberger, 2964 Jackson Street, WA 1-2918

Career Girls Member, Heleane Hankermeyer, 1510 Union Street

Young Adult Fellowship Member, Cora Cullen, 126 Alhambra Street, FI 6-2027

 

 

RICHMOND – POSTAL ZONES 21, 18

Deacon, John R. Bennett, D.D.S., 594 28th Avenue, BA 1-9865

Deacon, James Aitken, 707 Third Avenue, BA 1-5487

Deaconess, May Bennett, 594 28th Avenue, BA 1-9865

Men's Club Member, William E. Robertson, 454 36th Avenue, SK 1-1544

Women's Association Member, Carlotta Robinson, 535 32nd Avenue, BA 1-3490

Pioneer Couples Club Members, Dr. and Mrs. John R. Bennett, 594 28th Avenue, BA 1-9865

Career Girls Member, Bessie Sherman, 761 Second Avenue

Young Adult Fellowship Member, Norton L. Norris, 346 Lake Street

Callers: Irma Thayer, 51 Arguello Avenue, SK 1-3092

…….....Anna W. Smith, 150 23rd Avenue, SK 1-1482

 

 

TWIN PEAKS – ZONES 17, 14

Deacon, Roy W. Coultas, 3564 17th Street, UN 1-6290

Deaconess, Margaret E. Coultas, 3564 17th Street, UN 1-6290

Men's Club Member, Jesse K. Brown, 21 Alpine Terrace, MA 1-8593

Women's Association Member, Marjory H. Washburn, 235 Roosevelt Way, MA 1-2901

Pioneer Couples Club Members, Mr. and Mrs. Cyrus C. Washburn, 235 Roosevelt Way, MA 1-2901

Fifty-Fifty Club Members, Mr. and Mrs. Robert M. Iobst, 237 Roosevelt Way, MA 1-0532

Career Girls Member, Lois Waddington, 430 Hill Street, VA 4-0258

Young Adult Fellowship Member, Joan Ethridge, 740 Shrader Street, BA 1-6619

Callers: Jean Wilbur, 241 Frederick Street, LO 6-3588

…….....Marjory Washburn, 235 Roosevelt Way, MA 1-2901

 

 

MISSION – ZONES 3, 7, 10

Deacon, George W. Robinette, 884 Kansas Street, VA 4-0236

Deaconess, Anna E. Robinette, 884 Kansas Street, VA 4-0236

Men's Club Member, Samuel H. Edwards, 1288 Mission Street, HE 1-9035

Women's Association Member, Mrs. Jason Noble Pierce, 120 Duboce Avenue, MA 1-2876

Pioneer Couples Club Members, Mr. and Mrs. George W. Robinette, 884 Kansas Street, VA 4-0236

Fifty-Fifty Club Members, Mr. and Mrs. Don H. Gahagen, 144 Appleton Avenue, MI 8-3218

Career Girls Member, Dorothy Hatcher, 3433 21st Street

Young Adult Fellowship Member, Don Coultas, 3564 17th Street, UN 1-6290

Callers: Georgia Simon, 87 Dolores Street, HE 1-6549

 

NORTH – MARIN COUNTY

Deacon, E. David Akers, M. D., San Quentin, San Raphael 623

Deaconess, Mary Akers, San Quentin, San Raphael 623

INGLESIDE – BAY SHORE – ZONES 12, 24, 25, 27

Deacon, David K. Blair, 1230 Monterey Blvd., JU 7-8312

Deaconess, Marian R. Blair, 1230 Monterey Blvd., JU 7-8312

Deaconess, Margaret E. Beiler, 385 Buckingham Way, LO 4-7238

Men's Club Member, Mortimer Hughes, 75 Montana Street, JU 4-8678

Women's Association Member, Rahama Smith Harper, 160 Teddy Avenue, JU 5-0692

Pioneer Couples Club Members, Mr. and Mrs. Harold Tucker, 40 Santa Monica Way, OV 1-3123

Fifty-Fifty Club Members, Mr. and Mrs. Mortimer Hughes, 75 Montana Blvd., JU 4-8678

Young Adult Fellowship Member, Bill Lohse, 103 Munda Road, AT 2-2803

Pilgrim Fellowship Member, Martha Nell Tucker, 40 Santa Monica Way, OV 1-3123

Callers: Clara Montgomery, 1230 Monterey Blvd., JU 7-8312

…….....Angela C. Field, 160 San Felipe Avenue, DE 3-2610

…….....Rahama Smith Harper, 160 Teddy Avenue, JU 5-0692

 

 

SUNSET – FOREST HILL – ZONES 16, 22

Deacon, Charles W. Moss, 2663 30th Avenue, MO 4-8227

Deacon, William A. Kohler, 1227 17th Avenue, OV 1-3096

Deacon, M. Jay Minkler, 2195 24th Avenue, LO 4-5332

Deaconess, Adelaide Moss, 2663 30th Avenue, MO 4-8227

Deaconess, Ruby M. Hudson, 1203 22nd Avenue, SE 1-4930

Deaconess, Zelda Minkler, 2195 24th Avenue, LO 4-5332

Men's Club Member, Loring C. Norgaard, 2214 38th Avenue, MO 4-7443

Women's Association Member, Adelaide Moss, 2663 30th Avenue, MO 4-8227

Pioneer Couples Club Member, Mr. and Mrs. William H. Hudson, 1203 22nd Avenue, SE 1-4930

Fifty-Fifty Club Members, Mr. and Mrs. Loring C. Norgaard, 2214 38th Avenue, MO 4-7443

Young Adult Fellowship Member, Robert L. Clark, 401 Pacheco Street, LO 6-3935

Pilgrim Fellowship Member, Elinor Long, 401 Pacheco Street, LO 6-3935

Callers:

 

 

CIVIC CENTER – ZONE 2

Deacon, Guy T. Powell, 1295 34th Avenue, MO 4-7250

Deaconess, Jennie B. Powell, 1295 34th Avenue, MO 4-7250

Deaconess, Ada P. Flinn, 580 Geary Street, OR 3-3022

Deaconess, Bertha H. Weisz, 350 Laguna Street, KL 2-1990

Men's Club Member, Leroy H. Davis, 509 Oak Street, MA 1-3973

Women's Association Member, Amanda W. Coultas, 855 Pine Street

Pioneer Couples Club Members, Mr. and Mrs. Chris R. Weisz, 350 Laguna Street, KL 2-1990

Fifty-Fifty Club Members, Mr. and Mrs. Galen B. Miller, 154 Ellis Street, SU 1-4530

Career Girls Member, Irene G. Dinger, 625 Taylor Street

Young Adult Fellowship Member, Ward H. Bell, 350 Laguna Street

Pilgrim Fellowship Member, Carl Fogden, 432 Mason Street, EX 2-9588

Caller: Eva Griffiths, 763 Mason Street, PR 5-1162

 

 

NORTH NOB HILL – SOUTH NOB HILL – ZONE 9

Deacon, William Lobley (North), 1011 Bush Street, TU 5-2655

Deacon, Ernest H. Dettner, Sr. (North), 955 Pine Street, TU 5-3035

Deacon, James H. Hawes (North), 606 Post Street, PR 5-3940

Deaconess, Evangeline K. Lobley (North), 1011 Bush Street, TU 5-2655

Deacon, Ernest M. Gibbons (South), 615 Leavenworth, PR 5-0503

Deacon, J. W. Payne (South), 825 Sutter Street, TU 5-2464

Deaconess, Dorothy A. Lee (South), 711 Post Street, OR 3-2670

Men's Club Member, Edward Bummert, 447 Eddy Street, TU 5-0697

Women's Association Member, Grace B. Vaughn, 1080 Bush Street, TU 5-6148

Pioneer Couples Club Members, Mr. and Mrs. DeWitt H. Parsons, 845 Sutter Street, PR 5-5482

Fifty-Fifty Club Members, Mr. and Mrs. Robert A. Breed, 921 Post Street, PR 6-5943

Young Adult Fellowship Member, Ruth Palmer, 1145 Pine Street, GR 4-8303

Callers: May C. Hunt, 500 Hyde Street, TU 5-6686

……..... Grace B. Vaughn, 1080 Bush Street, TU 5-6148

…….....Rhoda M. McIntosh, 1155 Pine Street, PR 5-0647

…….....Alma H. Mercer

 

SOUTH EAST BAY

Deacon, Chester H. Woolsey, M. D., 86 Flood Circle, Atherton

Deacon, Curtis D. Wilbur, Pine Lane and Cherry Lane, Avenue, Los Altos

 

 

CHURCH MEMBERSHIP

 

 

Transcribed by: Jeanne Sturgis Taylor.


© 2011 Jeanne Sturgis Taylor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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