Bishop Donald E. Green, Pastor Emeritus, San Francisco Christian Center. Image courtesy of TCDC.

Bishop Donald Green was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, before moving to San Francisco at the age of four. During his adolescence, Green often saw his classes and the social pressures around him as increasing burdens. It was not until 1959 that Donald Green found his love for God and began his early stages of preaching the ways of Evangelical Christianity. According to the San Francisco Christian Center (SFCC), Green began preaching on the streets of the Western Addition and would often venture all the way to Market Street. He became known as a “street preacher.” Although he had found a certain passion in the ways of urban street preaching, Green quickly became a teacher for other members of church, and according to Project Impact he was a “pastor’s pastor . . . understanding the requisites and challenges of ministry.” Here, he would become quite empathetic toward the struggle of teaching religion during a period of massive social change.

In 1964, Green was ordained as the Assistant Pastor of San Francisco Revival Center, after having been a Sunday School teacher and youth leader there. He was then granted an honorary Doctorate of Theology degree from the Southern California School of Ministry for his devotion, wisdom, and most importantly, hard work. His passion for Christian teachings and his affinity for aiding “lost souls” carried him through his profession with the fervor of a man on a mission.

Donald Green was exalted as a pastor of the San Francisco Christian Center in 1966 due to his achievement in and devotion to his faith. By April 1999, he had been consecrated to the title of Bishop. Largely under his direction, the San Francisco Christian Center has become one of the largest and most prominent Pentecostal churches in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2001, Bishop Donald Green and the Board of Directors of Tabernacle Community Development Corporation (TCDC) started a housing project which aimed “to stimulate growth in the community by developing and participating in the development of residential, commercial and industrial projects that contribute to the economic stimulation and vitality within underserved communities” (McCray). Donald Green is now the retired president of the organization. He had a variety of accomplishments during his career, including helping to establish the Young African American Achievers Program and receiving a $1.2 million grant from former California Governor Gray Davis. The money went towards forming JUMP Academy in collaboration with the San Francisco School Board, and allowed them to host their first fundraiser gala, raising over $100,000 for their social service programs.

Green’s attentiveness and care for others did not wane and he helped other pastors in sustaining their own churches, all in the pursuit of spreading the Christian faith. His love for humanity was exemplified when he ran the Christian Couples Conference of 1971, during which he demonstrated his belief that many marriages should be saved or reconciled in the name of God. Many other ministries were created in order to help people from all walks of life, such as establishing new ministry leadership roles, creating prison ministries, and senior ministries.

In an SF Examiner article written by Laura Paul-Borja on May 23, 1986, Green commented that “46 percent of inmates in federal and state prisons are black men, and that 90 percent of homicides of black men are committed by blacks.” This staggering statistic of the late 80s shows Green’s understanding of his environment, and his role as a mediator and mentor in socially troubling times.

As the former president of the TCDC, Bishop Donald Green sought to help those struggling through societal discrimination, and in doing so he demonstrated his tireless faith towards helping anyone, regardless of color, shape, or class. He still preaches at the San Francisco Christian Center and consistently delivers powerful sermons regarding trust in God during challenging times. In one of his sermons delivered in 2015, Green impressed upon his audience the importance of realizing that hardships purpose themselves as inevitable storms that we must weather; no one can leave a storm unscathed, but our faith in God can suffice like the calm in the eye of the storm. Green related his own experiences with job loss, faithlessness, and daily adversities with his audience and eloquently used these experiences to offer a powerful sermon about facing pain. Sermons such as these show Bishop Green’s immense wisdom regarding the power that faith can have in times of fear and oppression. He continually fights for the less fortunate who have lost so much in a city that has been pushing them out. Bishop Green’s faith is a constant force that can be felt by anyone who hears his compelling sermons on the power of spirituality.

Chase Nakayama, Evita Martinez, and Marcelo Swofford

Works Cited

“Bishop Donald E. Green.” Project Impact. 2015.

Green, Bishop Donald. “Message Archive.” NBCC. New Beginnings Community Church. 9 Aug 2015.

Lewis, Gregory. “Minister Urges Mourners: Be your Brother’s Keeper.” SF Chronicle. 12 May.

McCray, James, Jr. “Tabernacle Statement.” Tabernacle Community Development Corp. 2001.

Paul-Borja, Laura. SF Examiner. 23 May 1986.

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