Culver City, California
In July of 1888, D. Munroe and J. K. McEwen came to Los Angeles to preach the gospel in a rented hall as well as in the open air. The population of Los Angeles at that time was about 50,000, and interest in the gospel was stirred by faithful preaching. In 1893, Mr. and Mrs. Foster, who were saved in Ireland, were exercised about moving to Los Angeles, where they started a shoe business and opened their home for the Lord’s people. Brethren Andrew Frazier and William McClure came to stay with the Fosters, whom they knew from Ireland, and this started the Lord’s work in the preaching of the gospel in that area.
A little company of 16 was gathering at 806 Temple Street. There was very little gift among them, but the saints rejoiced greatly to see two of the Lord’s servants in their midst. The saints prayed that a work of grace might be seen in Los Angeles.
It had been very difficult to get strangers interested in the gospel, but the Christians encouraged Mr. McClure to stay and try. A hall was rented on Jefferson Street and meetings began. Soon there were tokens of blessing, and a number of souls were brought to Christ. Mr. Frazier, truly a man of prayer, watered the seed sown by daily supplication and prayer. Christians from denominations were attracted to the ministry of the Word of God, and as a result, some had their eyes opened to the truth of gathering to His Name alone. Others, who had been backsliders, were restored to the Lord.
With this encouragement and blessing, the saints were exercised about establishing a local testimony to the Name of the Lord Jesus. After waiting upon God for guidance, an assembly was planted in the fall of 1893, which grew in numbers to 250 in fellowship by the early 1940s. The Jefferson Street assembly experienced much growth through the faithful preaching of the gospel in the hall and in the tent in downtown Los Angeles. Meetings often lasted as long as two months in the heat of summer. They were conducted by various servants of the Lord, including William McClure, Andrew Frasier, John Moneypenny, Tom Dempsey, Andrew Ruddock, Steven Mick, and Hector Alves.
In 1924, an outreach work began in East Los Angeles by Andrew Ruddock and Adam Thropay, Sr., who was saved in tent meetings two years earlier. The work grew, and the Lord saved a number of souls. In 1950, a Spanish-speaking assembly was planted in East Los Angeles. Through the continued efforts of Mr. Thropay’s son, Adam Jr., this assembly continued to grow. In 1927, the Jefferson Street assembly commended John and Netty Ruddock to the Lord’s work in Honduras and Guatemala, where they served the Lord for 52 years. Ida and Margaret Last (sisters) were commended to the West Indies, and Mr. & Mrs. Harold Richards were commended to Alaska in 1937.
During these years, large conferences were held in January, with many of the Lord’s servants attending from the US and Canada. A large Sunday school was built up during this time and many children were brought in from the neighborhood to hear the gospel of the grace of God.
The Jefferson Street Gospel Hall was near downtown Los Angeles and, in the 1950s, the inner-city area began to deteriorate. The decision was made to sell the property and relocate to Culver City, where land was purchased on Venice Boulevard. The brethren built a new, large hall in 1959, which serves as the meeting place for the assembly to this date.
In the mid 60s, the assembly had about 80 believers in fellowship, many of whom were elderly. Sidney Maxwell preached the gospel several times with some blessing after the new hall was completed. Additional gospel series were held during the decade, including tent meetings with surrounding assemblies. In 1969, Harold Paisley and Willie Warke had a tent series with seven souls professing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Many of the Lord’s servants came for ministry meetings during the winter months. Subjects included the “Tabernacle in the Wilderness” with Hector Alves and a second series with John Gray. Harold Paisley had a series on the “Seven Feasts of Jehovah” and another on future events.
In the 70s and 80s, an effort was made to build up the Sunday school with door-to-door invitations, and a good number of children started to come to Sunday school. Over the next 30 years, three buses were purchased in order to transport children to the hall. Tom Baker had children’s meetings many times over the years with very good attendance by the neighborhood children and some parents. The Lord visited in grace, and some professed faith in Christ.
During the 80s, the assemblies at Culver City, Long Beach, Monrovia, and East Los Angeles joined together to have summer gospel meetings in a rented hall in Downy and at the Culver City Gospel Hall, where the Lord blessed and saved. Some continue in assembly fellowship to this day. Harold Paisley, John Slabaugh, Tom Baker, and Minor Hawk labored in these united meetings.
Since the move to the new hall, the annual conference has been held at Easter time. There have also been mini-conferences on topical subjects. In recent years, the assembly had gospel series with Gene Higgins, with the Lord blessing in salvation.
Children’s meetings have been held at the Mar Vista Gardens housing project. Meetings are held year round on Monday nights and the assembly hosts a week of vacation Bible school each summer. Monthly Sunday afternoon gospel outreach is held at a nearby home for seniors.
The assembly has seen reduced numbers over the years, as many of the saints have gone home to be with the Lord and some large families have moved out of state. We thank the Lord that He has preserved us through both good and hard times, and we look to him for future blessing. To God be all the glory.