Wesley United Methodist Church celebrates 125 years serving the community of Los Angeles and offering spiritual guidance to its residents, the residents of California and many others throughout our nation.
On Sunday, June 2, Wesley UMC will celebrate its founding with presentations of special honors and recognitions sent from President Obama and presented by special invited California state and local elected officials during the 11am worship service and anniversary luncheon following service beginning at 1:30 p.m., in the Wesley Rakestraw Community Center.
As the oldest African American United Methodist Church in California and West of the Mississippi, Wesley UMC is known as “The Mother Church of African American United Methodism on the West Coast”. Formed by a determined group of Black migrants from the South, mainly Texas, in 1888, this new church of predominantly African American members was named after the Wesley Chapel in Austin, TX.
Wesley United Methodist Church, formerly called Wesley Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church, was first pastored by Fredrich H. Tobbs. Without a church edifice, Wesley was known as “the church on wheels.” However, in 1952, under the Pastoral leadership of Dr. Elijah W. Rakestraw, Wesley UMC moved to its permanent and still current church location at 52nd and South Main Streets.
Wesley UMC has served as a beacon of light in the City of Los Angeles and around the globe for 125 years. Early members of Wesley UMC are even credited with founding other historic UMC parishes in Los Angeles: St. Mark, Bowen, Hamilton, St. John and Holman United Methodist Churches.
“Remaining relevant and active as a voice of the religious community for 125 years is a blessing from GOD. It is GOD’s plan for the church that, as Pastor, and all of the great Wesley UMC Pastors before me, I continue to carry out,” said Wesley UMC Pastor, Leonardo V. Wilborn.
Wesley’s Rakestraw Community Center and the church were an important part of the community at large beginning in 1888 and still are today. The Wesley Rakestraw Community Center’s impact in the life of the black community and the church was witnessed and documented during the civil rights era of the 1950s and remains an integral part of the community today.
The public is invited to attend the celebratory worship services at 11 a.m., at Wesley UMC on June 2, at 112 West 52nd Street in Los Angeles.
All are welcome to remain and meet the Pastor and UMC officials during the 125th Anniversary luncheon. Special acknowledgments from local pastors, clergy and Wesley members will be presented following the service.