In October of 1942, a well-used Ford coupe came rattling down East 20th Street bringing Dan Genung, fresh out of divinity school in Chicago, and his wife, Frances to Los Angeles. Little did they dream that the tiny seed of faith they had come to plant in this community would someday flower into the All Peoples Community Center that serves South Central Los Angeles today.
Their primary goal was to establish a church, which came four years later when the original “House of Prayer for All Peoples” was chartered in May of 1946. Until 1964, the church and center worked as a single entity with monetary support from the church’s headquarters in Indianapolis, as one of the seven mission centers in the United States sponsored by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).The separation of the church and center allowed both groups to pursue their separate but united goals.
Started prior to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s-60’s, All Peoples Community Center was a revolutionary concept as described in the organization’s 2008 Strategic Plan: “All Peoples is a non-profit, non-sectarian community center located in the very spot where it was originally founded in 1942 – in South Los Angeles. All Peoples has made incredible strides since it was first envisioned… as a place in the inner-city where people from all ethnicities, races, and religions could unite under one roof to share a vision for a stronger, more self-reliant community and to help turn the dreams of struggling local youth and adults into reality. At a time when de facto and de jure segregation were still an everyday reality in Los Angeles, the establishment of All Peoples, a multi-ethnic and multi-racial community center, was not just path-breaking, it was revolutionary.”
During the next 70+ years, the center has gone through World War II, major earthquakes, and several directors. And still the center, one of the first inner-city community centers in Los Angeles, continues to provide programs and social services to people of all ages and race in its community.
Today, All Peoples provides a myriad of social and educational services to more than 6,600 people per year in its 20,000-square-foot center located in a residential area of South LA’s Vernon-Central neighborhood, immediately south of downtown Los Angeles. Services are designed to achieve the following goals: to help children succeed at each stage of development; to strengthen and support individuals and families and build community; to prevent violence and crime in the community and the home; to address the root causes of gang involvement; to provide job training and create job opportunities; and to help seniors stay active and engaged.