Third Baptist Church - Gospel Light Society

Third Baptist Church

amos-brown.jpg-Sunday Worship Services at 10:00 a.m.
-Christian Education Classes - Sunday 9:00 a.m.
-Holy Communion (every 1st Sunday), 10:00 a.m.
-Baptism (2nd Sunday), 10:00 a.m.
-New Members Orientation - (every 2nd, 3rd & 4th Sunday) 9:30 a.m.
-Midweek Prayer & Bible Study - Wednesday 6:30 p.m.
-Senior Center - Wednesday 10:00 a.m.
-Feed the Hungry Program on Thursday, 12:30 p.m.


Third Baptist Church was founded in San Francisco in the milieu of the Gold Rush days and its attendant instability. In an attempt to impact the cultural and spiritual life in the growing city of San Francisco, in August 1852, The First Colored Baptist Church of San Francisco was established. The church was founded in the home of William and Eliza Davis, on Kearny Street. With the Davis's, there were seven other Black persons-and a band of devout Christian founders: Abraham Brown, Thomas Bundy, Thomas Davenport, Willie Denton, Harry Fields, George Lewis, and Fielding Spots.

In 1854, the First Colored Baptist Church of San Francisco bought the old First Baptist Church and moved it to a location on Dupont Street between Greenwich and Filbert Streets. In 1866, a down payment of $4500 was made toward purchasing the old Howard Presbyterian Church property. Two years later, this property was exchanged for a lot on the corner of Bush and Powell Streets on which was erected a building, dedicated on March 14, 1869, at an appraised value of $40,000. Thirty years later, in 1899, the final note was paid by the membership of 160.

For seven years, the church, under the leadership of Rev. J. H. Kelly, enjoyed the rare experience of community pride and worship. In 1906, the church was destroyed by the fire caused by the earthquake. Within two years, the members had begun to purchase a new church on Hyde and Clay Streets. With a down payment of $25,000 from the sale of the Bush and Powell Street property, they erected a new $49,000 church edifice.

Through this period of growth and development, Third Baptist became the sole medium of expression of leadership through which the Negro could receive appropriate affirmation and recognition.  Although Third Baptist Church had been the functional name since 1855, the name was changed in 1908 to reflect its emergence as the third communion of Baptists founded in the city and its desire to be an inclusive church without racial designations. Also, the church was the first Black Baptist congregation established west of the Rocky Mountains.

Between 1852-1856, there was no pastor.  Supply ministers, mostly white, conducted services in the homes of members. This arrangement changed in 1856 with the arrival of the first African-American Pastor, Rev. Charles Satchell of Cincinnati: a graduate of Oberlin College and a leader of the Abolitionist Movement (A total of 17 African-Americans have pastored Third Baptist). Although Rev. Satchell pastored the church for only several years, he brought to San Francisco a history of social-political activism and the church began a period of decided growth. To enhance its visibility and viability as a church, Satchell conducted a public baptism at the foot of Stockton Street in the Bay for a few new members. He was able to strike a balance between social activism and personal piety.

Following Rev. Satchell's pastorate, there was a period of frequent changes in leadership and also years when there was no pastor. Based upon sporadically kept records, there was a succession of ministers serving the Third Baptist congregation for the first eighty. Nonetheless, amidst the frequent changes of leadership, Third Baptist maintained the singular Black Baptist presence in San Francisco until the early 1940's.

On August 29, 1932, Reverend Frederick Douglas Haynes, Sr. began his tenure as Pastor with 150 parishioners. During his pastorate of nearly 40 years, he renovated the church, redesigned the organizational structure, developed a sound financial program, and increased the membership of the church to approximately 3,000. As the church expanded in membership, it also grew in service to the community, state, nation and the world. On October 21, 1952, Rev. Haynes led the congregation from the Hyde and Clay Street site to the new edifice at 1399 McAllister Street. In 1956 the Youth Building was erected. Later, the parking lot at 1400 McAllister was purchased and Frederick Douglas Haynes Gardens was opened. Dr. Haynes in 1947 was also the first African American to run for the Board of Supervisors. He would have been successful had it not been for racism and the lethargy of his community.

Pastor Haynes Sr. passed away in February 1971, and his son, Rev. F.D. Haynes, Jr., succeeded him as pastor on June 25, 1972. Rev. Haynes, Jr.'s ministry was established on three goals: 1) a learning church, 2) a stewardship church and 3) an evangelical church. Before his untimely death on September 3, 1975 he had established a prison ministry.

Beginning a new era of sterling leadership, Reverend Amos C. Brown, a dynamic leader, began his pastorate on September 19, 1976. His commitment to the spiritual, educational, and political dimensions of the Gospel was immediately reflected in civil rights activism and the development of a fully accredited summer school in 1978. The annual church income increased from $250,000 in 1976 to over a million dollars currently and an African Refugee Resource Center was established with the resettlement of over 2,500 refugees. A major redevelopment and expansion program resulted in the multi-million dollar West Bay Conference Center and the Charles A. Tindley Academy of Music was founded. Under Rev. Brown's leadership the first woman was licensed and ordained to preach and female deacons were ordained to the deacons ministry, church membership increased, and the first site of Third Baptist was declared a historical landmark at Grant and Greenwich Streets with landmark number 1010 by the California Historical Society, all racial images were removed from the sanctuary and through collaboration with Temple Emanu-El Congregation a pulpit exchange was instituted and Back On Track was created to improve the academic performance of many youngsters. Pastor Brown was appointed to the Community College governing Board by Mayor Dianne Feinstein in 1982 and elected in 1984. He was also appointed to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors by Mayor Willie L. Brown in 1996 and elected in 1998. Third Baptist has shared the leadership abilities of Pastor Brown with the world as he has chaired the Civil Commission of the National Baptist Convention and united all black denominational bodies in opposition to the appointment of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court, during the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing of 1991.

As we enter the new millennium, we celebrate our strong legacy, realizing that it is with the vision of our Pastor, the strength and dedication of our congregation that we will bear much fruit and give to all humankind the leverage to succeed and experience the good life in this New Communication Age.

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Click here to view Rev. Amos C. Brown's bio

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