The St. John Coltrane African Orthodox Church Ensemble was originally organized in 1965 as a cultural group to educate the local community about jazz. The focus of the message was to inspire people to see themselves in the lives of a royal host abiding in a higher society.
The royal family of jazz artists includes dukes, counts, kings, presidents, ladies, divine ones, a queen, and a monk. They travelled the globe in fine attire, bringing light, joy, happiness, and healing. Their music was a royal decree breaking down the walls of ignorance, hatred, and injustice.
Today, after more than 50 years, the church continues the push towards liberation and enlightenment through music and the teachings of the Christ, who came to bring liberation through love and light, continuing in the example set by Duke Ellington, who first brought this music into the sacred realm of the church. Each Sunday, select compositions of John Coltrane have been arranged to embrace the liturgical worship of the African Orthodox Church.
This church is an ancient and historical one that garners its episcopate from Antioch, Syria, where Christians were first recognized. The historical root of the church is founded in the Marcus Garvey movement of the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). The patriarch and founder of the great AOC was Archbishop George Alexander McGuire, who, striking a blow for ecclesiastical freedom, broke away from the Episcopal church to form the Independent Episcopal Church, which would soon become the AOC.
We are grateful for the vision of our founders, Mother Marina and Archbishop Franzo King, to create a circle of dear listeners in 1965, the start of a movement of A Love Supreme, a church on the vanguard in the world of Christendom.