A well-loved black church in the Fillmore District of San Francisco is only days away from eviction after negotiations have broken down regarding back rent, according to Reuters. The St. John Coltrane African Orthodox Church is due to be kicked out of its home by next week, which would mark the departure of a longstanding cultural institution from the area.
The St. John Coltrane Church was founded by Archbishop Franzo King and Reverend Marina King in 1971 in the Fillmore District, an area known for its jazz roots and nicknamed "the Harlem of the West." The church has been well loved throughout the community for its use of instruments and music as part of its worship, as well as its involvement in social justice campaigns, including former alignments with the Black Panthers, according to the San Francisco Gate.
"As a community here, 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, 71, told the San Francisco Gate.
The church's landlord, the West Bay Center, has served the church with an eviction notice because of a failure to pay the monthly $1,600 rent, which King admits is not always on time, according to the San Francisco Examiner.
"You can't run a facility on promises, on prayers, and on saying that you are a historical institution," Center board member and San Francisco NAACP official Amos Brown said regarding the lack of rent. King claims that the church does have the money to pay the rent but that the center will not accept it. Gentrification and rising rent prices have taken a toll on the black community, with San Francisco's proportion of black residents dropping by half since the 1970s.
"This is a global spiritual community. It belongs to the world," King said, according to NPR. "But San Francisco is the custodians of this. And officials in this city, from the supervisors to the mayor, should feel the responsibility to protect the house of a love supreme."
A meeting will be held on Monday to raise support against the eviction, the details of which were posted on the church's Facebook page.