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Building a Community

Historical Documentation Project Flyer in English Historical Documentation Project Flyer in Chinese

From its earliest days, the Presbyterian Church in Chinatown has been a social hub vested with the hopes, disappointments, and visions of a community. It has been a place where individuals connect with one another, and within it people have found reminders of their culture, help in times of need, and friendship to multiply the joys in their lives. More than simply an institution, the church has been a repository of a community's memories and has sought to be true to its theological affirmation that a church is not the building it occupies but the people it embraces and the relationships they form.

Cast of Esther, the Beatiful Queen, from 1924

In the 1920s the choir of the Chinese Presbyterian Church staged several elaborate community performances of operettas, accompanied by professionally printed programs. The cast of Esther, the Beautiful Queen, performed on May 9–10, 1924, is seen here in a photograph taken in the church's sanctuary. Walter B. Bartlett, the director of the performance is seen in a tailcoat in the center of the second row.

Tea Time for Mandarin congregation

Each of the three language congregations — Mandarin, English, and Cantonese — offer a tea-time fellowship after Sunday service. Here, members of the Mandarin congregation enjoy one another's company during Tea Time. (Photo: 2001.)

Mandarin ministry karaoke night

The Pastoral Center of the Presbyterian Church in Chinatown's Mandarin ministry offers a gathering place and programming for the community every Thursday. Here, Yu-hong Lui is seen preparing to sing karaoke. (Photo: 2001.)

Young people in 1920s-1930s

Young women and men from the Chinese Presbyterian Church, circa 1920s–1930s, gathered for a conference to address the socioeconomic needs of young people in the Chinatown community.

Cantonese congregation birthday party in 1960

A regular practice of the Cantonese congregation is to have monthly celebrations of birthdays at the tea-time fellowships following the first worship service of each month. Here, Elder Sammy Louie surveys the birthday cakes at the celebration in September 1960 that will include acknowledgment of his own birthday.

Cantonese congregation picnic, 1958

The Friends of Jesus fellowship of the Cantonese congregation hold an outdoor lunch circa 1958.

Ling Yau Fellowship group shot in 1960

The Ling Yau fellowship of the Cantonese congregation, under the leadership of the Rev. David Peng (bottom row, far right) in September 1960.

Boys and girls at Wetmore Street location

From 1939 to 1949, Donaldina Cameron House — the Presbyterian Church in Chinatown's partner-in-mission, with which the church's history is so deeply intertwined — carried out a significant part of its work at 144 Wetmore Street. The boys and girls in this photograph, many of whom likely went on to become members of the church, are seen celebrating Christmas at the 144 Wetmore Street location.

Mei Yee teaching Sunday school

Mei Yee teaching children in Sunday School. (Photo: 2001.)

The Rev. David Peng playing violin

The Rev. David Peng plays the violin at a retreat of the Ling Yau fellowship of the Cantonese congregation circa 1965.

Hairstyling session at 1991 Family Retreat

Retreats offer members of the church community opportunities to learn and to get to know one another outside usual, more familiar contexts. At the English ministry's 1991 Family Retreat, one of the social activities was the "hair-styling" session pictured here. The stylists in the back row were given opportunities to explain their inspirations and their creations.

Sunday school girls eating watermelon

A girls' Sunday School class, circa 1920s–1930s, enjoying watermelon slices during an outing led by Flora Hubbard (back row, center), then director of young people's ministries.

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