Place

Filipino Christian Church

Exterior wall of church with a centered large stained glass window and a square bell tower
Filipino Christian Church

Photograph by Robby Aranguren, courtesy of California State Historic Preservation Office

Quick Facts
The Filipino Christian Church in Los Angeles was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2019. Constructed in 1909 for the Union Avenue M.E. Church, the building was acquired by the Filipino Christian Church in 1950 and has been in continuous use by the Filipino community since that time. 

The history of the Filipino Christian Church and its predecessor organization, the Filipino Christian Fellowship, dates back to the first wave of Filipino immigration to Los Angeles, and its story largely parallels that of Filipino Americans in the greater Los Angeles region more broadly. Founded in 1928, the Filipino Christian Fellowship was formed by a group of young Filipino men enrolled at California Christian College. The Filipino Christian Fellowship was the first organization in Los Angeles established to serve the spiritual needs of the city’s earliest Filipino immigrants, who found themselves socially isolated by discriminatory practices that restricted where they could live, work, and worship. In 1933, the Fellowship was re-organized as a formal church. Over two decades, the Filipino Christian Church was forced to move from place to place, from Little Manila to Bunker Hill to Temple-Figueroa, often due to City redevelopment projects that demolished various neighborhoods in and around downtown Los Angeles. Finally, in 1950, the Filipino Christian Church acquired the former Union Avenue M.E. Church in the Temple-Beverly corridor as their permanent home. The Filipino Christian Church’s move to the Temple-Beverly corridor ultimately led to other Filipino organizations and institutions relocating to the area, which became known as Historic Filipinotown.

As more Filipino immigrants began arriving in Los Angeles after the World War II, the Filipino Christian Church became a receiving ground of sorts, a place of welcome where new arrivals could congregate and socialize, regardless of faith, bonded by their common ancestry. For those with no place to stay, the parsonage might become a temporary home for a few days until more permanent housing arrangements could be made. During this time, it was an aging church building, so maintenance and repair became an ongoing challenge. Dedicated members of the congregation devoted countless volunteer hours to the building’s upkeep. The men and women of the Filipino Christian Church voluntarily and unselfishly made sure that these needs were taken care of on a weekly basis. They understood the importance of keeping their place of worship and fellowship in good condition and ready before any special occasion and before the next Sunday came. 

Since its inception, the Filipino Christian Church has played a vital role in the civic and cultural advancement of the Filipino American community, drawing its membership from various Christian denominations throughout the Greater Los Angeles region. In its early years, the Filipino Christian Church served as a central meeting place for Filipinos seeking to socialize with their fellow countrymen and promoting ethnic pride among new immigrants and American-born Filipinos. Some of the most active Church members also founded or served as officers in other Filipino-serving community groups, from social service organizations to groups dedicated to promoting cultural and ethnic pride. The acquisition of the church building on Union Avenue allowed the Filipino Christian Church to take on an even larger role in the community. With its basement-level social hall and various ancillary spaces, the Filipino Christian Church became a community center, donating space to various local groups and hosting countless events. The Filipino Christian Church was the birthplace of some of the most important organizations serving the Filipino American community. Members of the Filipino Christian Church served as early presidents of the Filipino Community of Los Angeles (later the Filipino American Community of Los Angeles, or FACLA), one of the earliest Filipino American organizations in the country. The formation of FACLA marks the beginning of a long-standing and continuing trend of Filipino Christian Fellowship and Church members serving as prominent community leaders, pioneering and actively participating in numerous Filipino organizations. Filipino Christian Church members founded the local chapter of the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS), which held its meetings at the church. The Filipino Cultural School, a volunteer dance and cultural troupe, used the Church’s social hall as its rehearsal space during its early years.
The Filipino Christian Church became one of the most prominent social, religious and cultural centers for the local Filipino community, serving as an important catalyst for the development and expansion of the surrounding Filipinotown ethnic community during the second half of the twentieth century.

Last updated: May 12, 2021