Since 1968, St. John Coltrane African Orthodox Church has been working to "promote global unity" and "peace on earth," according to their website. For the last decade, they have been doing so from the West Bay Conference Center at 1286 Fillmore Street, right in the heart of what was once SF's thriving jazz district. It's a fitting spot, as the church uses jazz great John Coltrane's work as a basis for worship. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the music could disappear from the building, as the revered institution is facing eminent eviction.
A service at St. John Coltrane African Orthodox Church was posted on YouTube.
According to the newspaper report, church officials received a three-day vacate notice from the landlords, who have not accepted rent checks ($1,600/month) for two years. Archbishop Franzo W. King says he's waiting for the sheriff to serve formal eviction papers any day now.
But that's not to say they are leaving without a sound. An online petition to keep the church at the Fillmore location has gathered 1,311 signatures.
The document claims the managers of the West Bay Conference Center are seeking to "double the rent." It also lays out a case for the historical and social significance of the church, saying: "The 'Coltrane Church' has been in the Fillmore since 1971 and is the oldest and only church born out of the music of John Coltrane. The present political climate of profit over people continues to devastate the African American population of the Fillmore, leaving the [church] to stand alone as the sole historic proprietors of the music and culture of jazz as a means to enlighten."
Lawyers representing the management of the center have not commented to the media.
The Chronicle reports a short list of jazz institutions that have vanished from the neighborhood that was once called the Historic Fillmore Jazz Preservation District: Rasselas Jazz Club and Restaurant and Yoshi's San Francisco.
King told reporters: "We've got people coming from all over the world every week. It's like a pilgrimage place. 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."
· St. John Coltrane Church Fights Eviction [SFGate]
· Hands Off The "Coltrane Church" [Change.org]