12th and Myrtle 9

Bethlehem Lutheran Church is an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) church at 959 - 12th Street in West Oakland.

Journalist and Oakland Tribune owner Robert Maynard was a member.


The church appears to have begun as a Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) church called the Bethlehem Colored Mission. The earliest reference I've found is July 28, 1934, with the church meeting at 16th and Magnolia, and Rev. Otto H. Theiss, pastor. 1 Theiss also taught at California Concordia College.

In 1948, the church was referred to as Bethlehem Lutheran (Colored)2 and was under Rev. Charles Cline, who remained pastor until at least 1957. 4 The March 27, 1954 listing says "Bethlehem Lutheran, now meeting at 12th and Myrtle Streets". 3 This is the current location, which was Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church at the time.

The directory listing in 1974 gives Rev. W. L. Herzfeld as the pastor.5 and it was still LCMS until at least 1978.8

The current pastor listed is Rev. Linda Boston. 6 The West Oakland 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament was the brainchild of Rev. Boston. 7

1951 Sanborn excerpt

Links and References

  1. Lutheran Churches Missouri Synod Oakland Tribune July 28, 1934
  2. Lutheran Churches Missouri Synod Oakland Tribune March 27, 1948
  3. Lutheran Churches Missouri Synod Oakland Tribune March 27, 1954
  4. Lutherans to Hold Synod Parley Today Oakland Tribune January 25, 1959
  5. Lutheran Churches Oakland Tribune May 25, 1974
  6. Bethlehem Lutheran Church on ELCA.org
  7. West Oakland Three-on-Three Basketball Tournament August 16th Oakland Post August 13, 2014
  8. William L. Herzfeld Biographical Dictionary of Black Lutheran Clergyman 1978
  9. Zion Lutheran Church Oakland History Room