Who Doesn't Go and Visit Old Cult Location for Vacation?
This last week, Brian and I were in Southern California. It wasn't exactly a vacation trip, but we did manage to get some pleasure in during our time down there while stopping in Brentwood and Los Angeles for work purposes.
Here Stands the People's Temple
The People's Temple was one of many congregations that Jim Jones preached to, before moving the flock to Guyana and having nearly everyone drink the KoolAid.
**** Interesting fact: KoolAid wasn't actually the beverage that was served to kill all the cult members of Jim Jones' cult. Rather, it was reported as being off-brand grape drink. Breathe easy, you CAN drink the KoolAid!
Located at 1336 South Alvarado Street, right on the corner of Alvarado and Hoover, the People's Temple still technically stands. Granted, it is now a 7th Day Adventist church and only open on certain days. We went there on a Sunday and it was closed, sadly. However, we still managed to get some really cool pictures.
This side shot, shows the length of the church. It's a pretty big space for what it is and if you consider just how large the congregation was, it doesn't really do it justice. The People's Temple was a congregation that grew from relatively humble beginnings. In the 50s Jim Jones, the minister for the church, was looking for a way to generate income and to meet certain social goals. Interestingly enough, he was a man of convictions and had faith in the betterment of mankind, or of communism. It certainly wasn't the Bible. If anything, it is said that he disguised his own political agenda within sermons taken from the Bible. He was ahead of his time, welcoming blacks into his congregation. Some would say that he would seek them out. His first church was in Indianapolis, in an area that was mixed with both black and white people. He labeled his church a gospel church, originally named Deliverance and then switching it to the People's Temple... a name that stuck.
By the 70s, The People's Temple boasted more than 20,000 people as part of the congregation, which was partly an exaggeration. That being said, the movement certainly was popular. Their Los Angeles Temple hosted about 500 a day in attendence, which was only a fraction of the 3,000 that were seen in San Francisco. The mother church was located in just above San Fransisco in Redlands, California. This location hosted a more regular and devout group of followers. Every other week, Jones would make the rounds down to Southern California to perform in front of an audience.
Writing about this group would require a book. I have long been facsinated by the topic, since I saw a movie on Jonestown in the 80s when I was a child. I remember thinking that it was all about religion, but this group was anything but. I hope to make it to see the other landmarks of where the temple stood in the next year. When I do, you can bet there will be pictures.
For now, I will wrap up with a bit more about the local Los Angeles following.
A palm tree stands at the corner of Alvarado, where the People's Temple is located. Across the street, there are apartments that are still standing and life goes on.
Then, across the way, with a convenient location and georgeous view, the home where Jim Jones stayed while he was in town, also still stands. The cross street is busier than ever and it is easy to see why Jones would have picked this location nearly 50 years ago. It is centralized in Los Angeles with easy enough access. Not only could he get attendence from those in the LA area, but it was a straight shot for followers coming in from the surrounding areas where there was a higher black population. It was his goal to see communism succeed in America and he wanted to be sure that his home and the church was accessible to all races and religions.
Think what you want about Jim Jones and his people, the more I dig, the more I realize that there was a lot more than a kooky cult drinking the grape drink.
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