A Brief History of the Confucius Church
“Dedicated to applying Confucian ethics in promoting the welfare of the Chinese community and increasing the awareness and appreciation of the Chinese culture.”
The Confucius Church building was built in 1924 and located at 212 E. Lafayette Street in Stockton. It served as the headquarters for the Chinese Benevolent Association also commonly called Chung Wah in Cantonese. Historically, this umbrella organization represented all the family clans, regional dialects and tong associations. Its mission included promoting goodwill, serve as a unified voice of the community, operate the Chinese Language School and maintain the Chinese Cemetery. In 1948 the leaders decided to add an auditorium (Confucius Hall) to the rear of the building. A big opening celebration was held when it was completed on August 27, 1949; thus gaining access to a much larger gathering hall for social activities, weekend Chinese movies, drum corps practice, tai chi, kung fu and Chinese folk dance lessons. The Chinese Language School on the second floor has been in continuous operation for well over 85 years.
The Confucius Hall was the focal point for the Chinese community, the most active years occurred between the 1930s and 1960s. It was at Chung Wah that Dr. George H. Colliver, began the Chinese Christian Mission which later moved to a one-story brick building adjacent to the main hall and renamed the Chinese Christian Center (CCC). The CCC club programs played a dominant role for many of the Chinese youths in that era. The harmony of Chung Wah and CCC was remarkable. It was at Chung Wah’s Confucius Hall and the basement (Rec Hall) that many Chinese senior citizens of today will recall happy memories of dances and social gatherings. One of the most anticipated events was the annual Fun Fest Bazaar where short theatrical acts were performed on stage by CCC youths and ultimately a king and queen were chosen by popular vote and crowned. It was also the site for many young Chinese couples’ wedding reception parties, Chinese business organization celebrations, and funeral memorial for some of Stockton’s prominent Chinese business leaders.
The Chinese community leaders of Chung Wah played a major role in the rallying for the Chinese War Relief efforts during World War II. Welcoming receptions were held for dignitaries for China, which included Dr. Sun Yat Sen, and a number of generals from China’s military armies. Pictured above is General Toy (center) who came to Stockton on October 17, 1934 to solicit money on behalf of China’s war efforts.