580 23rd Street
Ogden Christian Church
Exterior of Ogden Christian Church in Ogden, Utah, January 2022. (Deniane Kartchner photo)
The building which became the meeting place of Ogden Christian Church (2022) was constructed as a mission church of the German Evangelical Synod of North America in 1912 and served this community until the 1920's.
In January 2022 this church building turned 110 years old. Built in 1912 by the German Evangelical Synod of North America, St. Paul's Evangelical Church of Ogden served the community until the early 1920s. The congregation later incorporated as Ogden Japanese Union Christian Church, then Ogden Christian Church. The building is built of light brick with red trimmings. The original footprint was 48x55 feet, with a tower 10x10x38 feet. The stained-glass windows are original to the building, each one the gift of someone connected to the church and each illustrating some passage of scripture.
The treatment of Germans during WWI and the arrest of Rev. Leesman (later acquitted) while carrying a letter from a parishioner to a German prisoner at Fort Douglas contributed to the pastor leaving Ogden and the disintegration of the St. Paul congregation. The building had been vacant for several years before it was purchased by the Japanese fellowship in 1927.
In 1927, the building was purchased by the local Japanese Christian fellowship, becoming home to the newly formed Japanese Union Church.
Japanese American immigration to Ogden led to the formation of the Japanese Union Church and purchase of the building. The congregation itself was formed in the early 1900's with members of the Japanese Christian Fellowship group. They first met in several places including 1) Basement of the First Presbyterian Church 2) Kariya store (24th and Grant) 3) Second-story room across from the Post Office 4) Old First Baptist Church Building on Grant Avenue near 24th Street.
The congregation later incorporated as Ogden Japanese Christian Church (1965-2015).
The name was changed to the Ogden Japanese Christian Church in order to better reflect the evangelical identity of the organization, according to the church's history.
The congregation fought considerable pressure during the civil rights movement to dissolve the church and integrate members into neighborhood congregations yet continued to exist as a Japanese congregation for almost 20 more years.
The congregation incorporated as Ogden Christian Church in 2015. The Iglesia Cristiana Evangelica Bethel Church (incorporated in 2011) also meets in the building in 2022.
Ogden Japanese Christian Church
In the years following the 1980s, both the church and neighborhood underwent many changes. A focus on refurbishment/remodeling was to serve an increasingly older congregation. "As we had fewer members who spoke Japanese, services were changed entirely to English, and our church population changed along with it. In 2015, our congregation voted to change our name to The Ogden Christian Church, to better reflect our congregation’s increasing diversity." (ogdenchristianchurch.com)
As of 2022, several members of the congregation were in their 90's. Covid-19 concerns affected the church and like most other churches, in-person services were cancelled for a period of time.
The Iglesia Cristiana Evangelica Bethel Church (incorporated in 2011) also meets in the building.
"We are a small community church, located in beautiful downtown Ogden, Utah. We are more than a church, we are a family . . . and we invite you to join us!"