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The Savior Down the Street 

Inside San Francisco’s small spiritual communities.

Wednesday, Nov 25 2015
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Photos by Natasha Dangond, Gabrielle Lurie, and Michael Hendrickson

San Francisco's worldwide reputation as a secular, godless city of sin — is our PR that bad? — is undeserved.

For good or ill, religion helped build our sandy peninsula into a city. (It is not for nothing that our oldest surviving structure, Mission Dolores, is a church, or that our namesake is a Catholic saint.) Today, there are hundreds of churches, temples, synagogues, mosques, and other gatherings of faith and spirituality everywhere you look — in living rooms, converted homes, and former convenience stores, as well as in grandiose buildings.

It was these small spiritual communities, the ones we see on our way to buy groceries or on trips to the corner store, that caught our attention. We see these places every day, but who worships here, what are they looking for, and what do they find?

We were invited inside five such places in the city. While by no means a representative cross-section of the faith traditions and spiritual communities here — a tally that includes at least one Druidic circle — what we witnessed was that San Francisco is still a place for seekers, whether the end goal is a successful startup or a measure of salvation.

THE TRADITION, Mission Minyan

THE VISION, Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

THE REVIVAL, Rock of Ages Baptist Church

THE CHANTING, Hokke-shu Buddhist Church

THE MYSTERY, Immaculate Conception Chapel


About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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