St. Barnabas Episcopal Church
505 West Market Street, Newark, NJ

John Coltrane The Case for Sainthood

JOHN COLTRANE (1926-1967) African-American saxophone player, composer, eminent jazz innovator. Coltrane's faith in God was a powerful healing force in his overcoming addiction to heroin. He testifies to God's omnipotence, our need for God, dependence on God and God's power to remake us on his seminal album Love Supreme, and dedicates his music, saying. "Let us sing all songs to God." (July 17)

Saint John Coltrane African Orthodox Church is a musical-religious shrine of another bent. Unlike the Elvis-worshippers, this church is not a joke. They are charter members of the African Orthodox Church, and the deceased jazz saxophonist is their patron saint. The San Francisco organization dedicates itself to the worship of God as inspired by the 1964 spiritual awakening of the talented Mr. Coltrane. On the site, you can buy postcard reproductions of ornate John Coltrane icons displayed in the church. Also unlike the Elvis folks, no one at the church claims that John Coltrane is actually Jesus. Hey, at least he's got the right initials.

IT IS A SCENE OUT OF ANY NUMBER OF JAZZ JOINTS THROUGHOUT THIS CITY BUT THIS PARTICULAR BOITE HAPPENS TO BE ST JOHN'S AFRICAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OR AS IT IS KNOWN TO A GROWING CIRCLE OF PARISHIONERS AND FANS THE CHURCH OF ST JOHN COLTRANE... FOLKS HERE DON'T JUST REVERE THE PIONEERING SAXOPHONIST WHOM ONE CRITIC DUBBED THE JAZZ MESSIAH THEY HAVE DECLARED MR COLTRANE A SAINT WE CALL HIM THE DIVINE SOUND BAPTIST' SAYS BISHOP FRANZO KING A FORMER HAIRDRESSER WHO FOUNDED THE CHURCH... THAT ISN'T AS UNORTHODOX AS IT SOUNDS SAYS HARVEY COX A HARVARD UNIVERSITY THEOLOGIAN BOTH THE ORTHODOX AND ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCHES CANONIZE CONTEMPORARY SAINTS AND MR COLTRANE CLEARLY INCORPORATED SPIRITUAL VISION INTO HIS LATER WORK IN SOME WAYS JOHN COLTRANE HAS AS GOOD A CLAIM TO SAINTHOOD AS MANY OTHERS MR COX SAYS ADDING I SHOULD NOTE THAT I ALSO PLAY SAX... AND WHAT WOULD ST JOHN HAVE THOUGHT OF ALL THIS PASTOR JOHN GENSEL OF ST PETER'S EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH IN MANHATTAN WHO DELIVERED A EULOGY AT MR COLTRANE'S FUNERAL SAYS I THINK HE'D HAVE LOVED IT.

Coltrane had had a profound encounter with God that was catalytic to his becoming drug free and had an acute effect upon the rest of his life.  http://jazztheologian.typepad.com/findingthegroove/2006/01/coltran_a_final.html#comment-64179498


Some Links

Reflections of a Jazz Theologian

Spiritual Vibes - Church of John Coltrane

Church of Saint John Coltrane Facing Eviction

The Saxophonist Who Would Be a Saint

The Dancing Saints

Thesis:John Coltrane,Avant Garde Jazz, and the evolution of "My, Favorite things".

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