Our History

Here we will tell the story of the beginnings of our church and how we became what we are today.

Lake Park United Methodist Church is the result of the merger of Pioneer Memorial Church and 20th Street Church in 1954 into Lake Park Church and the merger of West Tenth Church with Lake Park into Lake Park United Methodist Church in 1968.

Pioneer Memorial Methodist Church began in 1881 when a Mission of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South was established meeting in a hall on 12th and Franklin Streets.

In 1883, the members, 27 in number, organized Asbury Methodist Church, South. The congregation moved to a YMCA building in the same year. In 1815, 1904, and 1912, the congregation outgrew successive buildings. The congregation became Pioneer Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church, South with its move to 37th and Telegraph where in 1917 a large sanctuary was built. The congregation became part of the California-Nevada Annual Conference of the Methodist Church in 1939 with denominational merger.

On June 24, 1954, Pioneer Memorial merged with Lake Park Methodist Church on Santa Clara Avenue.

Meanwhile, Twentieth Street Church and West Tenth Church had had been experiencing parallel histories.

In 1879, members of the First Methodist Episcopal Church, Oakland, began meeting in a home to hear the Gospel preached in Scandinavian languages.

In 1880, a small church was erected and served by a Swedish pastor. In 1883, the Norwegian and Danish members chose to incorporate their own church with nine charter members. In 1887 and 1893, growth required movement to larger sanctuaries. The final move was to Twentieth Street where the congregation worshiped for 42 years. In 1945, construction began for a new building on Santa Clara Avenue. The first worship service took place in the Fellowship Hall on Mother’s Day of 1946. The present facility was completed in 1952.

The new structure occasioned a new name, Lake Park Methodist Church. It was built during the pastorate of the Rev. Mr. David Hassel who retired in 1957 after 37 years of service.(This text is taken from an article in the California-Nevada United Methodist Reporter dated October 2, 1987 concerning the 100th
anniversary celebration of the Oakland Japanese Methodist Episcopal Church, later known as West Tenth Methodist Church).

The Japanese church grew out of a Japanese Bible study group know as the Fukuin Kai (Gospel Society) which had its roots in San Francisco. The Oakland Japanese Methodist Episcopal Church was formally established at Fifth and Brush Streets in 1887. In 1889, the OME Church was officially admitted into the Methodist Episcopal Conference and the Rev. Sokichi Doi was appointed its first pastor.

After the San Francisco earthquake in 1906, many Japanese moved to Oakland, creating the need for a larger church. A two-story, nine room house was purchased for $9,000 at the corner of West and 10th streets. This site became the home of West Tenth Methodist Church. Expansion culminated with
construction of Meader Hall, the educational building, in 1931.

In 1942, West Tenth Methodist Church was closed due to the evacuation of Japanese-Americans from the West Coast during World War II. One Hundred and Thirty-Five families stored their household goods n Meader Hall during this time. Another church rented the corner chapel and parsonage.

In 1945, the Rev. John Yamashita supervised the use of Meader Hall as a hostel for returning evacuees. The church helped relocate more than 3,000 persons during an 18-month period.

In 1967, West Tenth Methodist Church sold its property to the Oakland Redevelopment Agency to make way for the Acorn Project. Lake Park United Methodist Church, located at 281 Santa Clara Avenue allowed West Tenth Church to use its buildings until West Tenth could either build or purchase another
church. While the search was underway for a new location, Lake Park invited West Tenth to unite with it. The two churches officially merged on May 12, 1968.