Monday, March 20, 2006

St James Raises a Church

The Methodist Episcopal congregation, formed from a merger of the Centennial and Central churches, planned a wonderful new building at 22nd Street and Union. Although the congregation studied the idea of a new location, the members finally decided there was no better place than the one they had.

The church was designed by A. Dudley using an old English half-timbered style with a Gothic tower. The vaulted ceiling was highlighted with gold and the pews were arranged in concentric circles around a corner pulpit.

The Times noted:

“The congregation of St. James gives promise of becoming one of the strongest in the outlying parts of the city. Its pastor [the Rev. Robert S. Fisher] is a young man who has made his way rapidly toward the front and only last fall declined to accede to the wishes of the bishop that he accept a leading church in San Francisco.”

St. James was dedicated on Feb. 11, 1917, under the Rev. Bede A. Johnson, with a final design by architect Arthur G. Lindley.

While some historic Los Angeles buildings have been destroyed by earthquakes and others by developers, St. James fell to an unhappier fate.

By the 1970s, the church was the home of Metropolitan Community Church, which ministered to homosexuals. On Jan. 27, 1973, the church was gutted by a fire in an apparent hate crime.

1973: The Rev. Troy Perry and Jerry Small outside the burned remains of St. James Methodist Episcopal Church, burned in an apparent hate crime targeting gays.

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