Our Roots: 1943
Greater Prince Chapel A.M.E. Church was organized in 1943 by the Rev. L.H. Owens. Rev. Owens was the Minister of Bethel Memorial AME Church, San Diego. Because many people worked and lived in La Jolla, Rev. Owens saw the need to establish a church in the La Jolla area. With the help of three other Ministers, Prince Chapel Mission was organized under the control of Bethel Memorial AME and Rev. Owens.
The Southern California Annual Conference sent the first pastor to Prince Chapel in September, 1944. The minister reorganized the church and the membership began to grow. A Sunday School was started with three students. The Steward, Stewardess, Trustees and Usher Boards were organized as was the Choir, ACE League, Missionary and Pastor’s Aid Society. The membership was split into the Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver Clubs. These Clubs later became classes and Class Leaders were appointed.
Church services were held in a small, two room house that served as a Parsonage and Sanctuary. However, the congregation wanted a proper Sanctuary and put forth a great effort to raise the funds for a new house of worship. Ground breaking services for the new church were held May 25, 1947. While building activities were underway, all church services continued at the La Jolla Recreation Center. The new building was completed and dedication February, 1948.
The Prince Chapel membership roll continued to grow and many programs were developed. There were two mortgage burning services held; the first – March 18, 1956 which retired all the debt from building and organizing the church. The second – retired the $140,000 mortgage debt to build SOFA. In 1985, the church was remodeled to increase the seating capacity in the Sanctuary and received a considerable renovation in 2008.
Prince Chapel had many remarkable members over the years. One such person was Mr. Joe R. Jordan. J.R., as he was known, was a member of the first Steward Board and served Prince Chapel in various capacities until his death. J.R. always had a smile for the young people, a handshake for the men and a kiss for the ladies. He seemed tireless in his fund raising efforts. Carrie Coleman Mildred Grigsby, Ella Hickman, Nannie Jordan, Elnora Matthews, Pauline Phillips, Mattie Powell, Fairy M. Webb, Viola Wills (and brothers) Valcoe Allen, Lawrence Butner, Harold Kirby, LeRoy Wiggers, Sr. and others cooked food for various ventures throughout the years. Prince Chapel was well known for its fine food and much of the funds raised came as a result of these cooks. General support people included: Valcoe Allen, Ora Lee Chambers, Alberta Green, Elizabeth McPherson and Madie Taylor.
Mr. Frank Tate, Mrs. Ora Sears and Mrs. Jannie Pooler get the credit for keeping the church beautifully decorated throughout the years. Mrs. Lorenza Pace is commended for being the historiographer and providing pictures, facts, history and answering questions regarding our rich heritage.
Prince Chapel has always had a strong commitment to its youth. Many programs were developed to encourage the young people to build their self-esteem and excel in school, with particular emphasis placed on young males. A scholarship fund was started and the first U.V. Green scholarships were awarded June, 1949. Over the years many scholarships have been awarded to graduating high school seniors with assistance from Marion B. Holmes and Mary Sue Hamilton.
In 1968, Strongly Oriented For Action (SOFA) was organized with the slogan, “BEGIN WHERE YOU ARE WITH WHAT YOU HAVE.” Prince Chapel made a major contribution to the community when the SOFA Community Center was opened. Fund raising for SOFA was a joint venture by the members of Prince Chapel and Citizens of La Jolla. SOFA implemented the following programs: Summer Youth Program, Tutoring Service, SOFA Library, Nursery School, Annual Fund Raising Walks, Bilingual Classes, Low income Housing , and Del Progresso Club for Mexican Mothers. Also, SOFA negotiated a fifty year lease for a city lot at $1.00 per year and built an eight unit townhouse. In 1984, SOFA provided housing for Homeless People. SOFA had an on-going program that distributed food and clothing to families in the community. Although Prince Chapel terminated it's SOFA program in 2004, it still retains the school building.
Pastors who have served Prince Chapel are:
1943-1944 Rev. L.H. Owens,
Minister of Bethel Memorial AME, San Diego,
oganized Prince Chapel Mission
Rev. E.M. McPherson Supported the organization effort
Rev. James Lyons Supporting Minister
Rev. J. W. Henderson Supporting Minister
1944-4948 Rev. U.V. Green First Pastor
appointed by the Annual Conference
1948-1950 Rev. John R. Jordan;
1950-1953 Rev. James F. Morton;
1953-1954 Rev. Verle Reeves
1954-1956 Rev. Nathaniel W. Harper
1956-1958 Rev. H.L. Harden
1958-1959 Rev. O.I.G. Williams
1959-1960 Rev. J. Farrel
1960-1962 Rev. F.D. Haynes
1962-1964 Rev. Broaden
1964-1967 Rev. G. W. Brown
1967-1974 Rev. Lonnie C. Wormley
Started actions to build SOFA
1974-1976 Rev. Willie Harris
1976-1984 Rev. Charles Brooks
First Executive Director of SOFA
1984-1985 Rev. Lee King
1985-1988 Rev. Edgar Jackson
1988-1992 Rev. Dr. Kelvin T. Calloway
1992-1994 Rev. Dr. Jordan Davis
1994-1998 Rev. Joseph C. Nixon
1998-2000 Rev. Mark Tyler
2000-2006 Rev. Annie C. Watson
2006-2009 Rev. Janet L. Swift
2009-2010 Rev. Willie Adams
2010-- Rev. Chuck Norris