Reverend Frederick Douglass Haynes, Sr., served the Third Baptist Church from 1932–1971. Image courtesy of Ms. Clanton/African American Historical and Cultural Society.

Reverend Frederick Douglass Haynes was born in 1899 in Talcott, West Virginia. At four years old he was orphaned and then raised by his sister in Pennsylvania where he began working at age 10 at a bakery, which allowed him to support himself through high school. In the early 1920s Haynes moved to Los Angeles to attend the Biola Institute and Baptist Bible College. He became licensed as a preacher by the time he was 17 and organized the first junior church in California while serving as an assistant pastor. After he was ordained in 1928, Haynes gained the pulpit of the Second Baptist Church in Fresno, California, and then four years later moved to San Francisco to serve as the pastor of the Third Baptist Church, a position Haynes would keep till his death in 1971.

When he first arrived at the church it has a congregation of 150 and an annual budget of $1,500, but by the end of Haynes’ work the congregation had grown to 3,000 members with a budget of $150,000. Founded in August 1852, the Third Baptist Church was the first African American Baptist congregation established west of the Rocky Mountains and it was both Haynes’ leadership as well as the demographic changes set off by World War II that initiated such a dramatic growth for the church (Social Networks and Archival Context).

Pastor of the largest African American congregation in Northern California, Haynes served as the president of the California State Baptist Convention from 1960–69. Rev. Haynes has also received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by Bishop College in Dallas.

Beyond church affairs, Haynes was also a strong proponent of the civil rights movement and social justice. His grandson, Rev. Dr. Frederick Douglass Haynes, III, said, “As a matter of fact, he named himself after the silver-tongued leader of the abolitionists, Frederick Douglass” (San Francisco Bay View). Haynes was an important public figure in the community, serving as one of the neighborhood’s principal liaisons with San Francisco’s white power structure and by sitting on multi-racial committees and panels. In 1943 he marched with striking longshoremen and was a key factor in Pacific Telephone’s decision to end racially biased hiring practices.

Rev. Frederick Douglass Haynes served as the Pastor of the Third Baptist Church, the largest African American congregatation in Nothern California, from 1932–1971.

Haynes was also an active member of the Black Ministerial Alliance, a civil rights organization dedicated to gaining equal access for African Americans to jobs, housing and health care (Tim Kelley Consulting).

Paul Robeson and W.E.B. Du Bois were among some of the notable figures who sought Haynes’ counsel and support. In 1945 he became the first African American to run for Supervisor in San Francisco; he ran again in 1947 and 1951, but was unsuccessful each time. However, in 1956 Haynes achieved political success when Mayor Christopher appointed him to the San Francisco Public Library Commission.

Haynes married Charlie Mae Lomax, in 1945. Together they raised their three children, Harvey, Douglas and Sharon, along with Frederick Douglas Haynes, Jr., Haynes’ son from his first marriage. After his death in 1971 Frederick Douglass Haynes, Jr., succeeded him as pastor of the Third Baptist Church (Social Networks and Archival Context).

After Haynes’ death in 1971 following a long illness, Congressman Phillip Burton issued the following statement in Washington, D.C.: “[Haynes] championed the oppressed and pioneered the fight for social justice in our community. He was known and respected not only by the citizens of San Francisco, but by the governors of our state and the presidents of our nation. Dr. Haynes was a man of Christian gentleness and personal integrity whose memory I will long treasure and whose goods works will be a lasting benefit to our community.”

It is clear to all who visit the Third Baptist Church today that Rev. Haynes’ legacy is still very much alive.

Hannah Shepherd

Works Cited

“Haynes, Frederick Douglas, 1899-1971” SNAC Cooperative. Social Network and Archival Context. 2019.

“History of the Third Baptist Church.” 2019.

“Rev. Dr. Frederick Douglas Haynes, III: No. 1 for me is economic equality.” SF Bay View. Feb 2013.

Sixty Two Heroes and Pioneers of the Western Addition. SF Cultural and Historical Society. 2000.

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