AME Restart in 1969

The Province, 20 September 1969

For a brief period in the fall of 1969, in an attempt to restart the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) congregation at 823 Jackson Avenue, J. McRee (“Mac”) Elrod got some previous members of the congregation to agree to attend once a week services.

The caption on the photo above reads: “Decision was made to hold once a week services for a newly-formed African Methodist Episcopal church here.” [The Province, Sept. 20, 1969]. The newspaper likely refers to the church as being “newly-formed” because the building had not been used to hold AME church services since the last full-time pastor (Rev. J. Ivan Moore) left in the summer of 1956. An article in 1957 states that when Rev. Moore left, “there was no successor to his pulpit”, and “when services ceased, the congregation scattered” and “at the moment there is no minister in prospect.” [Vancouver Sun, July 27, 1957]

Rev. Malinda Thorne, a minister at the AME Zion church, attempted to restart services in late 1957, as reported in The Province from December 14, 1957, but there does not appear to have been regular church services and Rev. Thorne used the building at times as a soup kitchen and homeless shelter.

In the end, the attempt to restart the AME church at 823 Jackson Avenue in 1969 was not successful. Mac Elrod and Annie Walker, a non-denominational pastor, shared the building for a period, each conducting their own services. Eventually the decision was made by the presiding elder in Seattle to sell the building to Annie Walker. Mac Elrod reflected on his attempt to restart the congregation in an interview in 2002, stating that there were only 20 “old-timers” left from the previous congregation when he moved to Vancouver in 1969 and they: “were willing to come for an afternoon service, but not a morning because they had scattered, their children were involved in their own communities and things.” [Rudder, 2004]

Although the AME church in Vancouver did not continue, from 1969 through 1985 Annie Walker (later Annie Girard) was active in the community and she retained the name “Fountain Chapel” to refer to the building. She conducted regular services, presided over weddings, used the building to help young people and later she also ran a gardening and landscaping business out of the building with her husband Pierre Girard.

Pictured in the photo above are from left to right: John Wagner, Mac Elrod, Eden Shand and Richard Nann in the altar at 823 Jackson Avenue.