New Church in Oakland, California

A look at the opening of the new SDA church at 280 Grand Avenue Oakland, California.

By WILLIS LEROY HYATT, Pastor, Oakland, California

The opening of the new Seventh-day Ad­ventist church at 280 Grand Avenue Oak­land, California, took place last autumn. We were glad to have with us for the occasion J. L. McElhany, R. A. Anderson, C. L. Bauer, W. A. Nelson, and many other ministers and workers. Also present to take part in the civic opening on Sunday were Vice-mayor C. E. Rishell; Congressman John Allen; Attorney Liston Allen; John Anthony, the architect; and Vernon Bernard, the contractor.

There was a door-opening ceremony, with the congregation gathered outside. Then as the door was unlocked with fitting exercises, the choir marched to the front, the congregation following. The main auditorium, which seats eleven hundred, was filled to capacity.

The church was built of ample size, for it is intended to be an evangelistic center for Oakland. The site chosen for its location is strategic. It is located on Grand Avenue, just oppo­site the beautiful Lake Merritt Park in the metropolitan area, where seventy-five thousand persons pass the portals of the church every twenty-four hours. The territory allocated to this church has a population of twenty-five thousand.

Because of its metropolitan location, the city engineers required the building to be of concrete and steel construction. The sanctuary is as earthquake proof as possible, with complete giant circles of steel running through the over­head arches and down under the floor, so it can rock and bear great strain.

In addition to the sanctuary, which seats eleven hundred, there is a young people's hall seating four hundred. There are ample Sabbath school rooms on the second floor. Among the many modern features of the building there are a health education department, equipped both for teaching nutrition and home nursing ; and a library and reading room. A beautiful separate entrance leads to these facilities. In the sanctuary there is an elevated baptistry, and a Robert Morgan pipe organ is being installed.

On the top of the five-story tower is a fluores­cent light spire which is controlled by a time clock. Chimes from the tower may be heard across the lake.

The outside of the church is illuminated by six spotlights. It is an elegant structure, and truly an asset to the city of Oakland. It will let its light shine for God in the center of this densely populated area.

A part of the over-all plan, which was out­lined before we even started to build, was for evangelistic meetings to be held in Oakland in connection with the opening of the church. Now we are happy that John L. Shuler is here, and workers have come in from all parts of the Pacific Union to assist him. His preliminary plans were carried out, and the opening serv­ices are being held in the Oakland municipal auditorium, then later in the church.

The old church building on 25th Street was erected just after the Pacific Press moved from Oakland to Mountain View, and was used by our members for forty years. However, for a number of years past, the need of a new church had been seen by the members, and recent pas­tors began to prepare to build. When I came to Oakland in 1942 I found a building commit­tee all set up, and was urged to press the mat­ter forward. However, during the war years this work was prevented.

Our Methodist friends graciously permitted us to share their church building, which is one of the most beautiful churches in Oakland. The minister, Dr. Frank Toothacre, was very kind in sharing his church with us. We soon learned that he had been a missionary in China, and while there he had attended the same language school which the editor of THE MINISTRY was then attending in 1918-19, and they became warm friends. attending, doubt that friendship had its later fruitage here in Oakland. The influence of one worker may affect another on the opposite side of the world. This lesson was emphasized when I called upon the Oakland city manager to explain to him our plans for a new church, and our need of a permit to build on the site which we purchased. At first it was difficult to tell whether he was favorably impressed or not. But suddenly he broke the silence and told me that his early days were spent in South Dakota, and that his closest friends during his boyhood days were Seventh-day Adventist young people. That influence of years ago also bore its fruitage here in Oakland, by causing him to grant the necessary building permit.

During the few weeks since the opening a baptismal service, two weddings, and a com­munion service have been held. God grant that this edifice will stand to honor Him in this great city, and that it may be filled with pre­cious souls who worship Him.

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By WILLIS LEROY HYATT, Pastor, Oakland, California

May 1949

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