Celebrating over 100 years

The following is an excerpt from a church bulletin from almost 75 years ago…


by Ira J. Allen, 1939

In May 1907 a tract of land lying between Trestle Glen and Dimond Canyon and north of East 38th Street was opened for home building. Two and one-half years later there were about 75 homes in the tract and no church or Sunday School conveniently available to the community.

In the hearts of two women it was felt that the time, place and environment were propitious for the work of the Kingdom in this neighborhood – Mrs. Anna C. Culbert and Mrs. Sarah E. Courtright canvassed the homes in the vicinity and found about 50 children who were not attending Sunday School and a sympathetic interest on the part of many parents in the establishment of a church school in this district.

On January 2, 1910 the first meeting was held in the home of Mrs. Culbert with 33 present. In a short time the school outgrew the accommodations of her home and the school was moved to the restaurant in Beulah Park Camp Ground which was located just below Hopkins Street at the foot of Randolph Avenue. (Randolph did not extend beyond Hopkins at this time.) Summer camp meetings made it imperative that other quarters be found. Accordingly two lots were secured at the SE corner of 14th Avenue and East 38th Street. A tent was furnished by one organization, a wooden floor by friends in the district and pews and chairs by churches that were interested in the project.

In 1911 the church was organized as St. James Presbyterian Church of East Oakland with 20 charter members. Spring of 1912 found the school bursting the bounds of the tent and an extension was built to accommodate the growing youngsters and Rev. Chas. L. Campbell was appointed by Presbytery as stated supply.

A permanent building was the next objective. In the Spring of 1913 Mr. Campbell was called to the first pastorate and work on the new edifice was begun. In October the first services were held in the new building. Spring 1914 found Mr. Campbell in ill health and forced to resign and Rev. Frank H. Adams was appointed stated supply and was called as pastor in February 1915. Under his pastorate the church and school grew in numbers and influence. A strong Young People’s work was developed and was left as a monument to his endeavors when he resigned in 1917.

In the Fall of 1917 Rev. H. C. Shoemaker was installed as pastor. As the Sunday School had outgrown the present building and there was a growing sentiment in favor of expansion he felt that it was his special mission to increase the extent of the physical assets as well as to deepen the spiritual life of the congregation. Accordingly plans were drawn for an addition to the building but before adequate arrangements could be made to finance the project, America entered into the Great War and the raising of capital for any other purpose was frowned upon. So when it was decided to abandon the plan Mr. Shoemaker felt that his usefulness was ended here.