It’s St. John Coltrane’s Church

Photograph of St. John Coltrane Church by Susie Biehler

By James DeKoven

Without hestitation, the Rev. Wanika King-Stephens can name her favorite John Coltrane song: “What’s New?” Then, true to form for any music obsessive, she provides additional knowledge: The song was originally on the album Ballads, released by the Impulse! label.

Jazz records and churches are not usually an easy fit. But this church, at 1286 Fillmore Street, is no ordinary house of worship. It’s the Saint John Will-I-Am Coltrane African Orthodox Church, or as it’s known to people around the world, the Church of John Coltrane.

Every Sunday from noon to 3 p.m., Rev. King-Stephens sits in with other members of the house band — the “Ministers of Sound” — and they perform the music of John Coltrane as a vehicle to praise God. They call it “sound praise.”
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