Pastor Floyd Trammell of the First Friendship Institutional Baptist Church was kind enough to take some time in his busy schedule to speak with us recently.
Born and raised in San Francisco, the Pastor is affable, energetic and gracious, a proud graduate of Morehouse College and a well-dressed man. Anyone with a pair of ears who has walked by his church at 501 Steiner Street on a Sunday knows how passionate he is about his beliefs.
Reverend Trammell was proud to show Haighteration various aspects of the church, from the classrooms for Bible Study, to the baptism pool, to the kitchen, to the drum kit for the band.
We sat down with the Pastor and asked him a few questions.
How many years has the church been in existence?
The church itself has been here 66 years, and I have been pastor since January 2002.
Does your congregation primarily come from the neighborhood?
I’d say 2% comes from the neighborhood. We have commuters from all over the Bay Area, as far as Antioch. It creates a lot of diversity in our community. We also have a lot of tourists that stop in on Sundays, even from as far as Russia and Hungary.
How has the neighborhood changed during your tenure?
On the positive note it is a pleasure to see new restaurants and shops opening up in the Lower Haight. I like seeing a place like Maven stabilize the corner of Steiner and Haight.
On the negative side the community doesn’t seem to have a gathering place anymore. We used to partner with the Lower Haight Neighborhood Association and have meetings here at the church, but no longer. I’d like to open up the parking lot for a farmer’s market or a street festival, and that may already be happening, but it is hard to know as everyone seems to be on an island these days be it the merchants, neighbors or the church. I’d like to know a better way to communicate with the neighborhood or create that gathering place for face to face communication.
Do you think psychology has taken away from faith in today’s world?
That’s a good question… maybe a loaded question. Unfortunately I don’t think faith is as strong as it used to be. We have 400 seats in our building with probably only 50 being filled each Sunday. I think there is a historical element that people have a tentative view on organized religion. Problems with Catholic priests and the like surely don’t help. A lot of people have had a negative initial orientation with the spiritual community which has led them to become Athiests or Agnostics. But sometimes too much thought or intellect can make one not open to the spiritual experience. San Francisco as a city also has a negative view on religion. The Jonestown Massacre poisoned a lot of people on religion.
Anything you want our readers to know?
I don’t care what color, background or sexual orientation you are. If faith has let you down in the past there is a spiritual power that loves you and a place in the neighborhood that is open, non judgmental and welcoming to all. The cultural confines of worship can be broken.
Spirituality is helping something beyond one’s self. People are searching for spirituality. Mind, Body and Soul make up the human experience, and when one is malnourished one is not complete. Look at yoga studios for example. People are looking for spirituality but are paying for it. We offer it for free.
We want to be protective of our space and help the common man without bothering residents. If anything, we would like their input. We want to know which businesses need support. We want to get people together for a positive standpoint, be it volunteering or offering resources every fourth Saturday to help feed the homeless.
Thanks to Reverend Trammell for spending some time with us. To find out more about the First Friendship Institutional Baptist Church, stop by 501 Steiner Street, or visit www.ffibc.com.