The Spanish American Church in Los Angeles

It's Early History - Part 1 of 3

Monday, December 4, 2006                              

East Los Angeles was the first location where Hispanic evangelism took place in the Southern California Conference. The church that emerged from that activity in the early 1900's later became known as the Spanish American Church.This church was the focal point for much of the Hispanic work in this conference and it planted many new churches over a period of years.

Evangelism for Hispanics in East Los Angeles began in 1905.  The first Hispanic group became organized in March of 1911 with 13 members.  One of the first pastors of the Spanish American Church was Frank A. Westphal in 1922.  By 1929 branch Spanish Sabbath Schools, which were an outgrowth of the Spanish American Church were meeting in Van Nuys and Glendale.  After World War II began in 1941, Elder Henry Baasch, pastored the Spanish American Church . (Here we see a picture of the church which still stands today, currently home of the LA Central Korean SDA Church).

In January of 1953, Elder Samuel Weiss, was called to serve as pastor of the 800 member Spanish American Church, where he served for the next 14 years.  During his tenure, many new Spanish churches were spawned.   During this time several pastoral interns also trained under him.  Some of these early interns were: Fred Hernandez, Fred Diaz, Lucas Diaz, Johnny and Chester Robinson and Eloy Martinez.  Under Pastor Weiss, the first Pacific Union Hispanic Youth camp meeting was conducted at Camp Cedar Falls in 1954. This Hispanic Youth camp meeting has continued to occur ever since unto this very day during the Labor Day weekend.

The Spanish American Church was blessed with effective pastors who stayed by for long terms of service, which gave continuity to the church from it's early days into the 1970's..."

If you would like to read further accounts of the birth and development of the Adventist Hispanic work in North America, read the book - THE UNTOLD STORY, 100 YEARS OF HISPANIC ADVENTISM 1899-1999 by author and writer Dr. Manuel Vasquez published by the Pacific Press Publishing Association, copyright 2000.      

The Miracle Church - Part 2 of 3

Monday, December 4, 2006         

In 1978 Elder Arnold Trujillo became the pastor of the Spanish American Church, which at the time was the largest Spanish church in the division with over 1000 members. The church's 15-year lease on Paulson Hall, where they met, was expiring and the owner, the White Memorial Medical Center in East Los Angeles, had plans to demolish the old building to make room for more parking. Time was running out and the congregation had no place to relocate.

There were no other adequate facilities to rent nearby. The church did own property next to the freeway with frontage on Bridge Street, located about two to three blocks away from their present location.  But to build another church facility would have exceeded $2 million, and there was only $20,000 in the building fund.  So that was totally out of the question. Discouragement was setting in and the members were wondering if God was sending them a message to disband the church and start small congregations. But Elder Trujillo knew that man's limitations are only God's opportunities to demonstrate His ability to provide for His children.


With God, All Things are Possible


One day the idea came to Trujillo's mind, "Why not relocate Paulson Hall?" It was still a good building. But was it possible to move a building three stories tall with 20,000 square feet of room. Trujillo contacted relocation contractors to find out if it was possible and to solicit bids.  The answer came back: We've never done it before, but we believe it can be done. If we do it, this will be a historical event for the city of Angels." With this plan, the church was infused with enthusiasm to make the relocation a reality.


What followed was a series of miracles. The pastor approached the White Memorial administration with the plan not only to remove the building and but also to ask them for the $60,000 they had planned to spend to have the building demolished.  To Elder Trujillo's delight, the hospital agreed to not only donate Paulson Hall and give him the $60,000, but they also donated a four-plex apartment that was also to have been demolished.  That apartment was moved along with Paulson Hall and the income it later provided helped offset some of the expenses of the relocation.


A Move That Made History


Paulson Hall was divided into three sections.  The first section was moved on May 20, 1981; the second section on May 28 and third on June 4. The day of the first move many East Los Angeles residents and city officials came out to see this spectacular sight of the largest building ever to be moved in the history of Los Angeles.  The event was widely covered by the local newspapers and four major television stations. City telephone lines had to be temporarily cut to make way for the crossing of the building through the intersections of Brooklyn Avenue (now known as Cesar Chavez Avenue) and State Street.

 Members of the church led the procession singing hymns including "Mas Alla del Sol". They held cords, which were attached to the building and marched alongside it, forming a parade to the new site.  Just as Joshua and the children of Israel had crossed the Jordan River carrying their tabernacle and ending 40 years of wandering, so the Spanish American Church congregation was relocating it's church building, ending years without a permanent church home.

 On the day of the inaugural service, April 10, 1982, not only did the church dignitaries come out, but also Mayor Tom Bradley of Los Angeles, Art Snyder, Los Angeles City Councilman and State Senator Art Torres. President Ronald Reagan sent his highest-ranking Hispanic administrator, Antonio Monroig, to personally represent him.

 The Southern California Conference donated $100,000 and also purchased a small temporary facility that enabled the congregation to stay together during the relocation process.  The total cost of relocating and rebuilding amounted to only one-third of the cost of building a new church and the Spanish American congregation had to borrow only $300,000.  Over 11,000 volunteer hours were given to the project over a period of 16 months.  Everyone pitched in - children, young people and adults. It was truly inspiring.


The Miracle Church

 The Spanish American Church witnessed the fact that sometimes God takes seemingly impossible situations and uses them to His honor and glory. In this case, God performed all the miracles necessary to make it possible for those members to worship Him in their own church building.  This is why the Spanish American Church from that time forward has been called "The Miracle Church".

 If you would like to read further accounts of the birth and development of the Adventist Hispanic work in North America, read the book - THE UNTOLD STORY, 100 YEARS OF HISPANIC ADVENTISM 1899-1999 by author and writer Dr. Manuel Vasquez published by the Pacific Press Publishing Association, copyright 2000.      

1960's - Part 3 of 3

Wednesday, June 13, 2007                

En los años de los 1960's, cuando la iglesia Hispanoamericana todavía estaba ubicada en la calle Boyle, la iglesia también rentaba una propiedad y salón adicional para el uso de los miembros de iglesia y sus diferentes actividades sociales.

Este edificio y salón localizado en - 126 St. Louis Street, Los Angeles, CA 90033, fue ocasión de muchos programas especialmente los sábados de tarde como la Sociedad de Jóvenes y la gran Campaña de Recolección Anual.

El edificio contaba con lo siguiente. Era de dos pisos con numerosos cuartos para reunirse. Tenia un gran salón de juntas con un plataforma (su stage) que contaba con una gran cortina púrpura. También tenia una cocina amplia y finalmente contaba con un "basement" también con muchos cuartos para mas reuniones.

Cada año durante el mes de Diciembre, salían de este salón los hermanos en caravana para recaudar fondos para la organización adventista mundialmente.  Viajando en carros a lugares cercanos como la tienda "Sears" en la calle Soto o lugares lejos como la ciudad de "Hollywood", al regresar a las 9 de la noche, ya les estaban esperando unos ricos platos de comida vegetariana con "Champurrado" preparadas por las hermanas de la cocina. Al final de la noche se anunciaba desde la gran plataforma, cuanto se había recolectado esa noche para la campaña.    

También el club de Conquistadores de nuestra iglesia tuvo oportunidad en ocasión de acampar varias veces en el gran salón de este edificio.  Aunque dormir en un piso de madera duro en un "sleeping bag" no fue gran cosa que digamos!  Abecés practicaban las marchas los Conquistadores en el gran salón con piso de madera y se imaginan que rehuidazo hacían con los zapatos uno de los clubes mas grandes de la asociación del sur de California en esa época. Aquí es done los Conquistadores aprendieron el famoso "Coo Coo Step" dirigido por uno de los jóvenes TLT's en esa ocasión, el hermano Fernando Márquez.

Cuando finalmente se mudo la iglesia de la calle Boyle y empezó a usar las instalaciones del edificio Paulson Hall en los años 1970's, dejaron de rentar el edifico en la St. Louis.

Actualmente (2007) parte de este edificio se acaba de derrumbar para la construcción de una nueva estación de policías por parte de la ciudad de Los Ángeles y los arquitectos solo dejaron en pie la parte de enfrente del edificio para intégrala al nuevo diseño de la estación.

 El Departamento de Policías Hollenbeck (Los Angeles Police Department) esta ampliando y remodelando su estación en las equinas de la Calle Primera y St. Louis. 

     En esta foto vemos como va la construcción destinada para completarse en 2008, incorpora y incluye el edificio de la St. Louis.

     Aparentemente el edifico ha sido designada como un de los varios edificios históricos de la ciudad local de Boyle Heights.  Como pueden ver, nuestra iglesia tiene una rica historia cultural - A. Segura.