John Coltrane

We went on a modern-day pilgrimage to the church of St John Coltrane on Fillmore Street in San Francisco one mid-August Sunday.

John Coltrane was a guru whose claim to fame in the Christian milieu was composition and performance of his liturgy for saxophone called “Love Supreme”. He composed it midway through his musical career when he discovered and then explored the spiritual qualities of his horn.

I play the tenor sax. I could have brought it along and played during worship, but that will have to wait.

Eucharist at St John Coltrane starts at noon – later than in most churches because many of the Afro-American parishioners are musicians who are up late Saturday nights, performing in venues around the Bay area.

Big signs of John Coltrane and other jazz musicians on the side of a high office building at the corner of Ebby and Fillmore in San Francisco make you think the church is a huge auditorium, but when you finally locate the front door, you discover inside a tiny narthex that seats only 30 people. There are as many caucasian visitors, who come from around the world, as there are Afro-American parishioners.

The service goes to 3:00 pm, much of it music led by the music ministry team performing a liturgy based on John Coltrane’s composition.

If you are a musician, you can bring your instrument and play along, so that’s what I’m going to do when I visit San Francisco next time.

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