Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples
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The Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples is an intercultural, interracial, interfaith and interdenominational organization dedicated to "personal empowerment and social transformation through an ever deepening relationship with the Spirit of God in All Life."
In 1944, Howard Thurman left his tenured position at Howard University to help the Fellowship of Reconciliation establish the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples in San Francisco. It was the first racially integrated, intercultural church in the United States. He served as co-pastor with a white minister, Dr. Alfred Fisk. Many of their congregation were African Americans who had migrated to San Francisco from Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas for jobs in the defense industry. The church helped create a new community for many in San Francisco.
The Church today
The current presiding minister is the Rev. Dorsey Blake. The co-minister is Kathryn Benton. In the recent past, there were other popular associate ministers. The congregation presently consists of a small number of active supporters, many of whom are longtime members. The off-white stucco façade is embellished by three street-level arched inset doors, and crowned with a leaning belltower. Below the sanctuary at street level is Thurman Hall, named after Dr. Thurman, where meetings, plays, lectures, and music are performed.
Neighbors are familiar with the church's use as a polling place,and the leaning bell tower. Neighbors have held meetings at the church, as have other groups. In the 1980s, Fellowship Theater Guild revitalized the church's longtime involvement with the arts. Productions have included "I’m Not Rappaport," "LUV", "Member of the Wedding," and "An Evening with Martin and Langston" with Danny Glover appearing as Langston Hughes and Felix Justice as Martin Luther King, Jr. In 2005 Justice returned in "Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train[permanent dead link]," and in 2006 local jazz singer Kim Nalley starred as the legendary Billie Holiday in the West Coast premiere of "Lady Day in Love[permanent dead link]." In the summer of 2007, the Church began hosting the Howard Thurman Forum Series of free lectures in its building.
Each October at the Church's annual Convocation (open to the public), the Howard Thurman Award honors an exceptional contributor to community and social justice. Past recipients include Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California's 9th District; Rev. Nelson Johnson and Joyce Johnson of Greensboro, NC; and in 2008, Chaplain James Yee, the former US Army Chaplain who served as the Muslim Chaplain for the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
- With Head and Heart: The Autobiography of Howard Thurman, Howard Thurman, New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1979.
- Footprints of A Dream: The Story of The Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples, NY: Harper & Brothers. 1959
- The First Footprints: The Dawn of the Idea of The Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples. Letters between Alfred Fisk & Howard Thurman 1943 - 1944. San Francisco: Lawton and Alfred Kennedy, 1975
- Mysticism and Social Change: The Social Witness of Howard Thurman, Pollard AB. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 1992.
- Howard Thurman: The Mystic as Prophet.Smith LE., Richmond, IN: Friends United Press, 1991.