Sale of the Powell Street Church

With no say, the Japanese United congregation loses its home

In early 1953, Welfare Industries made an offer of $16,000 on the Powell Street property, which had been valued at $25,000. Dr. Percy Bunt, in a letter to Dr. George Dorey of Home Missions in Toronto, advised:

“I think that the offer should be accepted without delay, for several reasons, one of which is that it will clear the air as far as its use by the Japanese groups are concerned. They can make other arrangements for their school, etc., as at May 1st. Their presence in the building this winter has not been an unmixed blessing.”[34]

On April 24, 1953, the Board of Home Missions agreed to sell the Powell Street property to Welfare Industries for $16,000 and had the title transferred.

Excerpt of letter from the national United Church confirming the sale of the Powell Street Church property, Apr. 24, 1953

It was understood that the proceeds were used to build a social centre at First United, where the Japanese congregation could also meet. The congregation was able to use the centre, but their worship had to be held at 2 pm on Sundays. Within a few years, the new social centre and old church were demolished to make way for a new First United Church facility.

Meanwhile, in 1955, Welfare Industries sold the Powell Street property for $25,000 to the Vancouver Buddhist Temple. The sale took place without the consent of Vancouver Presbytery or the Board of Home Missions.

Excerpt of letter from national Home Missions Committee to Vancouver Presbytery, June 27, 1955. The letter expresses anger over the re-sale of the property.
[34] Percy Bunt letter to George Dorey, March 9, 1953, PMRC Archives, BC Conference Property Development Committee fonds, box 1361, file 18.