Sunday’s services might be the final ones for San Francisco’s one-of-a-kind Church of John Coltrane after the musical ministry has been served an order to vacate their rented meeting space within three days, according to SFGate.
The church, which focuses on the music and spiritual leanings of jazz legend John Coltrane, has been a beloved community institution since the 1960s, taking part in food drives and other public outreach. The church has operated out of its current Fillmore Street address for the past ten years, after growing out of founder Franzo W. King’s apartment. But this Sunday’s meditation on A Love Supreme, one of the church’s long standing programs, might be their final service in their current space.
King said that the landlord has refused to accept the church’s rent payments for at least two years, before serving them with the order to vacate. The church has started a petition in an attempt to stay in their current space, though King acknowledged the long odds.
“We’ve got people coming from all over the world every week. It’s like a pilgrimage place,” King, 71, tells SFGate. “In that sense, it is a great tragedy if we are not able to survive in the climate that many are being faced with at this time.”
The church was started back in 1968, as a jazz listening club called the Yardbird Temple (actually named after Charlie Parker). As it evolved, the focus of the congregation began to center more on Coltrane’s works and his own religious beliefs, and the church later became affiliated with Coltrane’s widow Alice Coltrane and the African Orthodox Church. Now officially known as the Saint John Coltrane Church, the institution continues to preach “global unity, peace on earth, and knowledge of the one true living God,” through Coltrane’s words and music, which they consider literal gospel.
The Church of Saint Coltrane has existed in a number of locations over the years, so eviction may not mean its final demise, even if it seems their landlord doesn’t have a love, supreme or otherwise, for the church.
“We might be looked at as one of the last cultural voices that has a certain social consciousness that leads toward the favor of the oppressed,” King tells SFGate, of the community he has led for nearly five decades.