Wilshire United Methodist Church, as we know it today, is the result of three mergers, re-structuring and addition of three ethnic ministries over the years.
The Hobart Methodist Church, founded in 1907, changed its name in 1919 to the Wilshire Methodist Episcopal Church.
Then in 1927, the Westlake Methodist Epoiscopal Church merged with the Wilshire Methodist Espicopal Church. This merger occurred because the city widened Eighth Street where the Westlake Church was located and it ended up with the street going right through the middle of the church. This merger entailed both churches selling their properties and moving together to a new and larger church building with would be acquired.This was achieved in 1931 when the Wilshire Boulevard Congregational Church decided to sell their edifice which had been erected in 1925. This property was located at Wilshire and Plymouth, the present location of our church, the Wilshire United Methodist Church. The purchase of this property came about because of the suggestion of Harry Phillips, Betty Dietrich’s father. The first worship service was held in this building on February 15, 1931, during the depression years.
The congregation struggled and developed a vigorous church which was able to burn their mortgage in 1945. Through the years there have been changes architecturally. At one time, there was a parsonage located on Lucerne Boulevard and also a parish house located on the spot where the education building and the Ritter Chapel now stand. The parish house which was located at 729 South Plymouth Boulevard was used as a Sunday School Department. The house next door to the church became the parsonage. In 1951 the parish house was torn down to make room for the construction of the Children’s Educational building and the Ritter Chapel. The Ritter Chapel was named in memory of Mr. Fred Ritter by his widow. The parking lot was extended in 1960/61 and that was made possible by tearing down the parsonage that was located on Lucerne Boulevard. Also, in the budget year of 1960/61, the parsonage at 100 South Beachwood was purchased for $52,000. It was felt that this purchase was necessary because the parsonage on Plymouth Boulevard was in bad disrepair and the house did not accommodate
the minister and his family too well.
The church Building has been designated as an historical monument by the Los Angeles City Council. It combines Italian and Gothic styles not previously represented in America. The facade was inspired by the Church of St. Francis at Brescia in northern Italy, and the tower found its genesis in the Torracio of Cremona, southeast of Milan.
The third, and final merger came in 1973 when the congregation of Trinity Methodist Church joined us. Although there have actually been no more mergers, Wilshire United Methodist Church has acquired three other ministries; the Hispanic ministry, which had its beginning in 1985 with a Sunday School class which developed into a ministry in 1988; the Korean ministry which started in 1979; and the Filipino ministry which grew out of the Founding Fellowship and started as their own ministry in 1989. It was planned that all of these ministries would worship together as one congregation. Because of language and cultural differences, the Korean and Filipino ministries have become autonomous. However, the Hispanic ministry has chosen to stay with the Founding Fellowship, although they do have a service each Sunday in Spanish.
In 1994, Wilshire United Methodist Church had three fires, one small one involving some electrical wiring, one in some shrubbery on the property, and the third one, which was the most destructive of all, gutted the fellowship Hall, part of the Sanctuary and ruined the organ. The church also needed a new roof after this fire. The smoke and water did a lot of damage as well.
It took an entire year for the repairs on the church to be completed and services to return to the Sanctuary. While the church was under repair, the ministries met each Sunday at the Scottish Rite building which was directly across from the church on Wilshire Boulevard. We all felt very blessed that we were able to hold services in a building so close by.
In July 2015, three Ministries of the Wilshire United Methodist Church were reconstituted into one Ministry and was named Multicultural English Ministry. The three Ministries were English/Hispanic Ministry, Journey of Faith Ministry and the Pilipino Ministry.
Prepared by: Betty Dietrich,
Lynn Hoffman and Frances Keith
Edited and Revised for the website.