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Sun, 08.01.1852

The First A.M.E. Zion Church (San Francisco) is Founded

*On this date in 1852, The First African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church of San Francisco was founded.

Started by the Reverend John Jamison Moore, he pastored the church and participated extensively in civic affairs. The First Church home was on Stockton Street (between Broadway and Pacific). The church remained at this location for six years. In 1858, the Second Church Home was located on Pacific Street. It was a brick chapel built by First Church. The congregation worshipped there for six years. On April 14, 1858, many congregants celebrated the court's decision to release Archy Lee, a fugitive slave.

The church's Pioneer Committee met with Governor Douglas of the (then) colony of Vancouver, Canada, to arrange for some of their congregation to emigrate from San Francisco. On April. 25, the Commodore, Capt. Nagle arrived with 35 blacks of different trades and calling, intending to settle there. In 1864, the congregation purchased the Rev. Thomas Starr King Church property worth $50,000.

For the next decade, the church was known as "The Starr King Methodist Church"; this tower was less than ten years old when purchased. It had a pipe organ and was one of the most beautiful in San Francisco. First Church continued to provide a focus on educational, cultural, social, and political activities, especially spiritual sustenance. The church was destroyed in the great earthquake and fire of 1906; there was nothing to be salvaged from the ashes, not even one record.

The church was without a pastor for three years as the congregation undertook the formidable task of finding a new location and a new church building. In 1909, when the Rev. W.J. Byers arrived, their friends at Bethel A.M.E. Church loaned their sanctuary for Sunday afternoon worship.

When the Rev. W. W. Matthews arrived, the membership was able to regroup and sold the lot on Stockton Street for $18,000 and bought the Geary Street property. Due to the redevelopment of the Western Addition, the church family had to relocate. A new church building was erected in 1960 at the present location, 2159 Golden Gate Avenue, and the church's doors, or virally have been opened every Sunday since covid.

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