Hakka Lutherans

The Hakka are a distinct ethnic sub-group of Chinese people and Hakka is also a distinct language.  The Hakkas originated from Northern China and in a series of migrations, they moved and settled in their present areas in Southern China, and from there, substantial numbers migrated to various countries throughout the world. With nomadic origins, the Hakkas are not named after a geographical region, but modern day Hakkas are generally identified with people who either speak the Hakka language or share Hakka ancestry.  While the Vancouver Hakka community was estimated as less than 100 in 1970 (Wilmott, BC Studies, 1970), there was significant immigration growth in the 1980s and 1990s.

In 1982 a group of Hakka Lutherans had a vision of starting a Hakka church in Vancouver and thus created the Basel Hakka Lutheran Church (BHLC). According to the BHLC web site, the first meeting was held at the basement of Brother Stephen Chong‘s residence and the BHLC subsequently used the First Lutheran Church for Sunday services. After three years, in 1985, the BHLC was able to acquire their own building and moved into 823 Jackson Avenue (pictured shortly after purchase in 1985).  The congregation grew very quickly during the immigration rush from 1985-1995.  Initial services were conducted only in the Hakka language, but seeing the increasing number of young people, who primarily speak only English, the church started the English service in 1992.

The BHLC made a number of changes to the property at 823 Jackson Avenue during the time they owned it. Shortly after purchasing the building, the BHLC installed two white crosses, one on the south side of the building and one on the east side, and replaced the altar windows.  In 1987 the south half of the property was asphalted for use as a parking lot. Sometime between 1988 and 1994 the upstairs windows were replaced and in 1995 the roof was replaced with a red metal roof (from the  previous black shingles).

In 2000, due to the growth of its activities, BHLC decided to expand its church building and formed a building expansion committee. In 2007 sufficient money was raised to purchase the building at 2575 Nanaimo Street in Vancouver. On October 26, 2008, 823 Jackson Avenue was officially decommissioned by the BHLC in a ceremony that included members of the Hogan’s Alley Memorial Project, and the property was sold as a private residence.