The former sunny yellow facade of Jerusalem Church Of God In Christ at 1660 McAllister St. has undergone a transformation. In the past year, the building has been painted a rich brown, and the sign has been removed. People still come and go, but for any curious onlooker it’s unclear what the building is being used for.
In fact, the church is still in operation there, but in an unorthodox arrangement, it’s picked up another congregation to share its space. Now, Redemption Church and Jerusalem Church of God in Christ share the same building, but hold separate services for their respective—and very different—communities.
Jerusalem Church of God in Christ is a historic Pentecostal African American church, headed by Pastor Scott Galbraith. The neighborhood church used to include hundreds of congregants, and in the 1970s it grew out of its former space at Oasis Cafe. In the mid-’80s, Jerusalem Church of God in Christ purchased a two-story parking garage at 1660 McAllister, and turned the bottom floor into its church.
But the neighborhood was changing, fast. “There’s been a total gentrification, this area used to be all African American,” said Pastor Scott. The church’s congregation dwindled, and the space was only being used a couple times a week. Pastor Scott was called in from Detroit by his father, Bishop Albert Galbraith, to bring life back into the space. But times were hard, and the Pastor spent much of his time running a restaurant in Burlingame.
In 2012, everything changed.
Pastor Justin Anderson of Redemption Church was looking for a congregational home. While driving down McAllister Street one day, he came across Jerusalem Church of God in Christ, and had the divine inspiration that this is where his church should be. He knocked on the door and banged on the windows, but with only one service held a week in the space, no one was there. Eventually, with the help of Facebook, he tracked down Pastor Scott and paid him a visit in Burlingame.