Our Meeting’s Early History

From the Berkeley Quarterly Meeting of Friends 50th Anniversary Observance, August 2-3, 1952:

In November of 1894, Berkeley Monthly Meeting was set up at the home of Joseph and Louisa Johnson on Channing Way. The first meeting place was Ashby Hall, at the corner of Ashby and Shattuck Avenues, and was our church home for more than a year. In 1897 the Meeting moved to a hall in the Bailey Block on Shattuck Avenue, near Dwight Way, where we sojourned for about two years and had many a time of blessed fellowship, both spiritual and social.

The following year in 1898, a group of men planned an expedition to Alaska in search of gold. Dr. William V. Coffin was asked to go along as the ship’s doctor. Professor Grinnell, the naturalist, also accompanied them to study the wildlife of Alaska. They brought back many stuffed birds and animals, now in the museums of Whittier College and the University of California.

It was at this time that the Lord laid upon the hearts of Addison and Rebecca Naylor a desire for a house of worship for Friends in Berkeley. They learned that the First Presbyterian Church building was available. It was purchased, moved to a lot on Haste Street and was soon made ready for worship services. Throughout these years Rebecca Naylor had served faithfully and well as pastor. She felt now that the time had come for a change and in 1901 Herbert Cash accepted a call to Berkeley Meeting.

Beginning on April 18, 1906, the disastrous fire and earthquake in San Francisco turned our Meetinghouse into a place for the refugees as they poured into Berkeley from the burning city across the Bay. This lasted for many weeks, during which time the hand of God seemed to be for good upon Berkeley Meeting and used it for giving comfort to those in need and also for bringing many souls into the Kingdom of God.

The Good Book truly says “Here we have no continuing city.” So, again our Church was to move on, this time to its present location at the corner of Channing Way and Fulton Street. The building was completely remodeled, as was also the parsonage.

Rebecca Naylor became Pastor Emeritus. Her days were filled to overflowing with labors of love one who, like her Master, “went about doing good” until she was called home in 1929. The fragrance of Mother Naylor’s life will ever live in Berkeley Monthly Meeting.

Of Addison Naylor, the Official Memorial of California Yearly Meeting said in part: “Addison Naylor was one fashioned very much after the Man of Nazareth; a friend of the friendless; quick to command; slow to criticize; a Friend whose memory enriches every other life.”

Berkeley and Oakland Meetings have always worked together in close Christian harmony from the very beginning, when Levi Gregory became Oakland’s first minister. Now we are one. Berkeley Monthly Meeting was richly blessed two years ago, in 1950, when our Meetings merged. May Berkeley Monthly Meeting ever be faithful, not only in following the light, but also in carrying the Light of the world, even our Lord Jesus Christ, to those still in darkness.

Following are the pastors who have served Berkeley Monthly Meeting:

Rebecca Naylor 1894-1901

Herbert Cash 1901-19041

Joseph Peele 1904-1906

Lindley Wells 1906-1909

Mead Kelsey 1909-1912

Abijah Weaver 1912-1918

John Huff 1918-1922

Charles Mott 1922-1926

L. Clarkson Hinshaw 1926-1933

Merrill Coffin 1933-1938

Gorman Doubleday 1938-1947

Howard W. Cope 1947-1953

John R. Spitler 1953-1959

Allen Bowman 1959-1966

Ron Woodward 1966-1974

Eric Mueller 1975-1980

Janet M. Gathright 1980-1982

Douglas P. Gwyn 1982-1986

Arturo Carranza 1986-1989

Douglas P. Gwyn 1991-1994

Ed White 1994-1995

Robin Johnston 1997-2001

Max C. Hansen 2003-2007

Brian C. Young 2008-2017

1 “A BRIEF SKETCH OF OUR LATER HISTORY” in the Friends Memorial Church Directory And Yearbook (1938) has the following: “After Mrs. Naylor had retired, John Holly served as Pastor for two years, Herbert Cash for three, Joseph Peele for three, and Lindley Wells for three years.”