Named in honor of the late Rt. Rev. H.B. Parks, Parks Chapel was organized as a mission in September 1919, by Rev. J.M. Brown, then minister at First African Methodist Episcopal Church. The charter was granted in May 1920. Parks Chapel occupied properties at 9th and Chester Streets, in what is known as West Oakland, starting in June 1920. At that time, Parks Chapel was the only AME Church in the Bay Area situated on a corner. Parks Chapel has been distinguished by great success and sustained growth because its program is built with God-fearing church loving people, thoroughly indoctrinated with the principles of African Methodism. Although Parks Chapel suffered much under its burden of debt as a result of the depression prior to 1936, she recovered fully after that time to take her place among the leading churches on the Pacific Coast. While under the pastorate of Rev. A.W. Johnson, Parks Chapel had active participation in the Central Y.M.C.A. Rev. Johnson served as a member of the Y's Spiritual Emphasis Committee, and was on the Board of Managers of the North Oakland Branch Y.M.C.A. Rev. Johnson, while serving on the Board of Directors of the Oakland Council of Social Agencies, Community Chest, The Children's Agency, Chairman of the Inter-racial Committee, Casework Committee, and a member of the Administrative Board of the Northern California-Nevada Council of Churches, was extremely instrumental in interrelating all of the above activities with the church. During World War II, Rev. Johnson headed the Citizen's Committee for the launching of the S.S. Roberts Abbott at the famous Kaiser Shipyard in 1943, and the S.S. Meigs at Yard #2, when the Champion Welder was honored. Rev. Johnson acted in an advisory capacity to housing agencies and to incoming laborers. With the stepping up of war, industry and the increased population of war workers, the congregation increased. Parks Chapel and her Pastor stood in the vanguard of the challenging program of the war years. The Bishop's program was to keep the church alive, improve and purchase property, help newcomers to become adjusted, fight for housing for our People, work night and day with the nation and local war programs, and PREACH, PRAY AND WATCH for the coming of peace. The First Church that was located on Ninth and Chester streets, had an upper and lower sanctuary with a total seating capacity of 750. It was complete with a lounge, study, dining hall and kitchen. The parsonage, which was purchased in June 1945, for $6, 000, and was paid in full by May 1947, was located seven blocks to the east of the church. The total value of all church owned property was $50, 000. Civic, as well as religious organizations throughout Northern California consulted with Parks Chapel AME Church, Oakland, and her Pastor in all matters pertaining to public welfare. A new two-story building with a thirty-five foot frontage on Chester Street was to be added to the structure. The addition was very much needed. The Sunday School of nearly 100 pupils had outgrown their quarters. The released time Bible School of 200 students, which met in two sections every Thursday, was growing in attendance. Room was needed for these two important groups. A nursery for a day service, and a special service nursery for care of children during religious services was to be included. Space for a choir dressing room and Young People's activities, plus a clinic and library was to complete the first floor arrangement.