|Ebenezer A. M. E. Zion
1716 23rd Ave
Seattle, WA. 98122
Web site: www.ebenezeramezion.org
|Pastor, The Rev. John B. Stean, III|
Gospel Choir Rehearsal 6:30 pm
Prayer Meeting 6:00 pm
Bible Study 7:00 pm
Free Lunch Program 11:00 am
Sunday School 9:30 am
Worship Service 11:00 am
1716 23rd Ave
Seattle, WA 98122
Click this link for Directions to Ebenezer
The roots of Ebenezer had its beginning in the home of Mr. E.A. and Majorie Pitter, 1532 24th Ave. The established churches of the Commuity held Sunday School in the mornings, while Zion held theirs in the afternoon. The Pitters had three daughters, Constance, Marjorie, and Maxine who were helpful and assisted their parents by going into the homes in the neighborhood, collecting the children, baking and offering homemade cookies, root beer, etc. and even later in the physical construction of the present edifice. Over many months, the group grew and eventually became so large that Chandler’s Hall was rented for worship service.
Sometime later, a Zion missionary, Mrs. Trent, acquired property and a Zion Church was established as KylesTemple, 6th and Main. But this area was soon condemned to make way for the Yesler Terrace Project.
Bishop Martin assigned Rev. Henry Leo Johnston to Seattle in 1926.Local businessmen, Archie Tudor, a realtor; Peter DuBoW,editor of the Searchlight Newspaper, and George M. Moore, onetime secretary to Booker T. Washington at the latter’s death in 1928, were friends of Rev. Johnston and made great contributions to the establishment of Zion Church in Seattle. Another friend, Lawrence Colman, donated a lot which was located in the 900 block of 23rd Ave. This lot was later exchanged for the present site, 23rd and Olive. Zion now had land but could not begin construction for a church building until a form~l corporation was formed and registered in Olympia. Rev. Johnston, Mrs. Majorie Pitter and Mrs. Sarah Dawson were the architects of this corporation. Their signatures and a Discipline of Zion can be found in the Archives of Olympia.
In the early 30’s, housing from along 22nd and 23rd and Pike and Pine Streets was condemned and a Power plant was subsequently located on this site. Rev. Johnston bought three of the condemned buildings and relocated them elsewhere. One, a duplex in the 1400block on 22nd, housed a WPA sewing room in the basement. Mrs. Edith Johnston, the minister’s wife, was the manager and instructor. Around this same period, Mother Leland came to Seattle from California to nurse her seriously ill daughter, Hattie Simmons. She and Rev. Johnston held worship services for adults in the same basement room.
Blueprints for Ebenezer were drawn and designed by Eddie Smith of Tacoma. It was his first job after liis graduation from the University of Washington. A brick exterior and a parsonage in the back of the building was part of the design, but these plans did not materialize due to the Depression. Rev. Johnston, a carriage builder from Jamaica, Harry Ellis and J. Taylor, carpenters and the Pitter family were among those who laid the foundation and raised the edifice as we see it today.
When neighborhood theaters were being disbanded in the 30’s, the Home Theater at 23rd and East Union was torn and subsequently replaced by a filling station. The theater’s seats and piano were purchased by the Zions and some of them can be found the choir loft today.
Fred Blythwood came to Seattle in 1941. It was under his leadership and through the help of the Federal Government that the basement of Ebenezer was completed. This provided black servicemen from Fort Lewis, a place to stay overnight or weekends when they came to Seattle to the USO in the YMCA next door. Some of the servicemenand their families joined the Church; several of the men became officers. A group from the church would travel to Fort Lewis to hold servicesin the afternoon on the first Sunday of each month and sunrise services on Easter.
Ebenezer was the first black church in Seattle to acquire an electric organ. Mr. Pitter donated a Contata organ in 1949 through the generosity of his friends.
The cornerstone of our church is dated 1930. The church was named EBENEZER “upon this rock, I will build my church”, Ebenezer means .•Stone of Hope” or the place where Israel was defeated by the Phillistines. 1 Samuel 12, probably where the Ark was taken. 1 Samuel 43:1
The church has always tried to live up to its name, “Stone of Hope” . During the Depression, it served as a WPA sewing room; in the 60’s, menus and meals were prepared in the kitchen for the local Head Start Program under the supervision of the late Mary Franklin and in the past and present, it continues to serve as a Food Bank outlet.
The Pitters three daughters Constance P. Thomas, Maxine P. Haynes and Marjorie P. King are still active forces within the Seattle Community and living witnesses in the founding context of Ebenezer A.M.E. Zion Church.
Rev. Henry Leo Johnston died in July 1947. Rev. Annabelle Leland passed away in February 1958, Mrs. Marjorie Pitter died on December 24, 1967 and her husband Mr. Edward Pitter died in December 1977.