About us

It was between the years 1887-1898 a few individuals decided to begin a mission Church for Zion. They first rented a storehouse for three dollars a month to hold worship services, prayer meetings and Sunday School. These founding members named this Church First A.M.E. Zion Mission in Oakland. As with any new Church they were faced with some challenges and were forced to move many times, but it did not shake their resolve to have this Church.

Early in the life of this small Mission Church Bishop Alexander Walters came and was the Sunday morning preacher which encouraged this Mission Church. Bishop Walters promised this Church $500 for a Church building if they were able to raise $3,000. This excited this Church and they began to raise the funds necessary to buy their first Church building.

Founding members W.C. Morrison, George Watkins, Mrs. Tobe Williams, and Mrs. Elizabeth Kyles were on the committee to locate the first house of Worship. A building was available on Campbell Street in Oakland. This building had been closed for many years and there was a lot of work to be done, nevertheless they pressed on with the purchase. Fund raisers were had to raise the money necessary for the purchasing of the building. With all their hard work they were still short on funds and Mr. Ezekiel Cooper of First Church San Francisco loaned them the rest of the funds. After renovations this Mission Church was ready to enter its sanctuary.

Local preachers were assigned to come and preach at this Mission Church. In 1900 Bishop Walters appointed Rev. C.B.T. Moore as their first Pastor. Due to poor health Rev. Moore was only the Pastor for a short time. In 1902 Rev. S.W. Hawkins was appointed Pastor and remained until June 1904. Rev. W.W. Matthews became the next Pastor of this Mission Church, and at this same time Bishop J.S. Caldwell was assigned to this area.

It was under the leadership of Rev. Matthews that an effort was put forth to repay the loan to Brother & Sister Cooper. Teams were put together and they went to work with the sole purpose to raise money to repay the loan. The funds were successfully raised and Brother & Sister Cooper were repaid and the only thing he asked was the new Church would carry his name. Thus, Cooper became the name of this new Church.

In 1929 the Campbell Street Church was sold, and the membership purchased another vacant Church on Union Street under the leadership of Rev. W.J.J. Byers. After Rev. Byers, Rev. J. Edward McCorkel was assigned to Pastor Cooper A.M.E Zion Church. After securing a large loan, extensive repairs were made, as this location was three times larger than Campbell Street.

In 1940 the area was condemned to make room for housing projects, and the Federal Housing Authority brought the Church and parsonage for $17,000. With these funds in hand the members of Cooper A.M.E. Zion purchased the building at 1420 Myrtle Street, and paid for it in full. With the funds that were left over the congregation purchased 1925, 1927, and 1929 Filbert Street and assumed a mortgage for the balance and they remain rental properties until this day.

In April 1940 the Sanctuary was badly damaged by an incendiary device resulting in a fire only two months after their move. After hard work the Sanctuary was restored to its original beauty.

After Rev. McCorkel, Rev. William B. Smith was assigned and was followed by Rev. Rufus Cooper who served for a short period of time. He was then followed by Rev. George Lynwood Fauntleroy who was appointed by Bishop W.C. Brown.

America became immersed in a World War II it was during this time period many people moved to the bay area especially in Oakland to work in the plants which were here. As a result the membership of Cooper A.M.E. Zion Church grew to over 500 and many servicemen made Cooper A.M.E. Zion Church their Church home, as they still do today.

Rev. R.G. Fauntleroy was a young energetic Pastor, and through his leadership and the hard working members of Cooper grew to prominence in Oakland. Cooper A.M.E. Zion Church was the first host of the West Coast Board of Bishops’ Meeting and Ministers and Laymen Association annual meeting in January 1947. It was under Rev. Fauntleroy’s leadership many great things happened at Cooper A.M.E. Zion Church, thus under his tenure “Greater” was added to the name of the Church.

Rev. R.A.G. Foster followed Rev. Fauntleroy and under his 13 years of leadership Greater Cooper A.M.E. Zion Church continued to grow and do great things in the community. Rev. Buie followed Rev. Foster, and under his leadership a complete renovation of the Church edifice was done. Following Rev. Buie were Rev. J. Mayo Roberts, and he was followed by Rev. Dr. William H. Coleman.

Rev. Ronald Rogers was assigned as the next Pastor of Greater Cooper A.M.E. Zion Church and under his tenure an after school tutorial program was implemented. The parking lot adjacent to the Church was done, and the lot at 1931 Filbert Street was purchased. Not only did Rev. Rogers serve Greater Cooper A.M.E. Zion Church he was also the Presiding Elder of the Central Valley District.

Rev. Dr. Osofo McDonald became the next Pastor of Greater Cooper A.M.E. Zion Church and once again renovated the Sanctuary to enhance its beauty. Rev. Keith I. Harris became the next Pastor of Greater Cooper A.M.E. Zion Church under his tenure the Friday Feeding program was started, and the continued renovations of the property at Filbert Street. Rev. Harris also led the way to purchase the Parsonage located on Orinda Drive in Oakland Hills. The late Brother Harry I. Butler willed his home at 7830 Arthur Street.

Rev. Harris was followed by Rev. John A. Harrison, Jr., who served Greater Cooper A.M.E. Zion Church well during his tenure. Rev. Harrison was then followed by Rev. Wendell Tucker who was followed by Rev. Cordell A. Jenkins as they continued to renovate and upkeep Greater Cooper A.M.E. Zion Church

In September 2006 Rev. Stephen W. Pogue was appointed to Pastor Greater Cooper A.M.E. Zion Church. It is with God’s grace and mercy that He shed on those that have come before him, that God will continue to use the hard working, dedicated members to His Glory, as Greater Cooper A.M.E. Zion celebrates its 110th Anniversary.