church’s Centennial Celebration program describes the beginnings
of the church as a Sunday School in 1877 on Clay, near 10th
Peter Lau, this is consistent with,
or based on, recollections from life-long
members Bertha Tong and Lum David Lee.
located several annual reports of
the Methodist Episcopal Chinese Mission which provide updates on each
mission. The report for year ending in September 1, 1881 refers to the start of a
School led by Mr. W. H. Rouse held in the First Methodist Episcopal
years earlier. It also
describes an evening school that had been in existence for three years
earlier. At the time of the
report, Mr. H.
Gathering of Early Methodist Chinese Mission Pastors
[Click to Listen to Story by
Rev. Edwar Lee]
|W. Stowe had just been
mission. By that time, the Mission
building in Oakland had been “completed and dedicated free of debt some
years ago.” [RMECM-1881].
1882, Chan Hon Fan
came to assist W. H. Stowe at the school. The
there were increasing problems with helpers (some of whom had to be
students. Unfortunately, Chan Hon
Fan would return to China the following year, leaving the Oakland
the California missions in general short of Chinese helpers [RMECM-1882]. By
of the year, the “rebellious element”
was gone, but W. H. Stowe was alone and teaching
a sparse class of 3
and 4 probationers [RMECM-1883]. The
class had dwindled to
nothing, and the
church leadership began outreach to the Japanese community by following
Oakland Mission was reorganized in 1887 [CACJ-1888].
the intervening years, but by 1890 conference reports paint a much
Oakland Church with one native unordained preacher, one
foreign teacher, 13 members, and 6 probationers, 50 “adherents,” and an
worship attendance of 20 [ARMSMEC-1890].
part of the
reorganization Miss Kelsey and Woo
charge of a still uncertain Mission and brought the mission
back to a
healthy state [ARMSMEC-1893].
That the mission was turned around with a woman in charge is a powerful
reminder of the important role of women in the Oakland church's history.
It is thus through the
grace of God that we celebrate the church's official founding in 1887.