Founded a century and a half ago, the Presbyterian Church in Chinatown is the oldest Asian American Christian congregation in North America. Designated a “foreign mission” by the Presbyterian denomination, the church opened its doors on November 6, 1853 with four members under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. William Speer. It was not until 1925 that jurisdiction of the church was transferred from the Board of Foreign Missions to the Board of National Missions. After changing its name from the Presbyterian Chinese Mission Church, the congregation continued to be known as the Chinese Presbyterian Church until 1958, when the current name emphasizing the church’s recognition of its social context and its commitment to the San Francisco Chinatown community was adopted by its members.
From 1853 to 2003: One Hundred Fifty Years of Witness and Community is an exhibit of old and new photographs that depict life at the Presbyterian Church in Chinatown (San Francisco, CA) over the past fifteen decades. It celebrates the role played by this institution in gathering together a community, giving its life shared meaning, and enabling it to be of service to the world. One component of the larger Historical Documentation (HDoc) Project at the Presbyterian Church in Chinatown, the exhibit serves as the public education element of HDoc and comprises some seventy images chosen from among over two thousand in the archives assembled by the project.
The exhibit was on display at the church and at the Bade museum at the Pacific School of Religion in 2004.