Rev. Roland Gordon
The Rev. Roland Gordon (Rev. G.) was born the fifth of nine children to the late Willie and Charlie Gordon. He was reared in Gary, Indiana, where his leadership abilities began to blossom, as Captain and star player on the Gary Roosevelt High School Basketball team. He continued this development as the star player and captain of the Baldwin-Wallace College (Berea Ohio) team, receiving his BA degree in 1967. He relocated to Los Angeles, California in 1972, where his creative abilities and deep concern for humanity became evident, as he published a book of poetry, "A Message To The World", co-wrote and produced a musical, "Revelations from the Hip Bible", and wrote the musical, "The Winds Of Change". In the summer of 1975, he headed two projects, which culminated in a Cultural Arts Festival attended by thousands of people each Sunday in a local park. The festival leaders presented original portraits and busts to many outstanding African-Americans, including the late comedian, Redd Foxx, Jim Kelly, Mohammed Ali, Senator Nate Holden, and the late Mayor Tom Bradley.
In 1978, he enrolled in the San Francisco Theological Seminary, while also accepting the challenge of Pastoring Ingleside Presbyterian Church, which had dwindled to only four active members and could not afford a full time ordained pastor. Drawing on his athletic background, he immediately organized basketball programs for young boys in the community. The Ingleside Church Basketball League, which stressed respect for authority, self discipline, sportsmanship, team play, and the importance of education, soon became "the place" for the development of many boys, some who became outstanding student athletes. The Ingleside Community Center was separately incorporated to expand on the concept of service to the community youths and is in its 18th year of providing invaluable service to the OMI (Oceanview, Merced Heights, and Ingleside) Community.
Love is the answer at the phelan loopUpon completion of a Master of Divinity Degree, Rev. G. was ordained as full time Pastor of Ingleside Presbyterian Church on July 31, 1983. Ingleside Presbyterian church, under his administration has been at the forefront of community organizing and the primary meeting facility for major community events. The church has exposed the community to such outstanding talent as world renowned actor, the late William Marshal, vocalists Henrietta Davis, David Tigner, Helen Dilworth, Susheel Bibbs, Isaiah Jones, Millie Sorrells, Verlin Sandles, Hope Briggs, the late great pianist, Oscar Preston and many others. Rev. Gordon also organized a cooperative of non-profit organizations, which presented the movie "Othello", and its star, Ted Lange at the Kabuki Theater as a benefit. He also was Executive Producer of the one man two act play, "Enter Frederick Douglas," starting William Marshal at the Calvin Simmons Theater. Rev G. surprised the Bay Area theater goers with a stunning portrayal of the lead character, Simon, in the outstanding stage production, "The Seven Exaltations of Simon," (the Cyrenian who carried the cross for Jesus) and also as narrator for the outstanding musical, "The Modern Mass," which featured a 50 voice choir and 8 piece orchestra, written and directed by noted musician, Dr. Willis Kirk.
Rev. G. is proud of his record of dedicated service to the board of the former San Francisco Council of Churches, where he served as Chair of the Children's Services Committee and later as a two term President of the Board of Directors. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Bay Area Black United Fund, Founder/President of the Board of the Ingleside Community Center and Founder/President of the Board of the Thad Brown Boys Academy. Rev. Gordon received the 2003 Distinguished Alumni Award from the San Francisco Theological Seminary, the 2004 Alumni Merit Award from his alma mater Baldwin-Wallace College (Berea, Ohio), was a 1995 recipient of the prestigious Koshland Award presented by the Koshland Committee of San Francisco Foundation for Outstanding Community Service and has received numerous other awards. He is especially thankful for the Ingleside Presbyterian Church being selected as one of the 300 Excellent Protestant Ministries by a Lilly Endowment funded national study of Church Excellence.
Rev G. likes to establish tradition. The Ingleside Church Black Tie Affair (formal dinner/dance) celebrated its fourteenth annual occurrence on October 18, 2005. On Mother's Day (May 14, 2006), the 12th Annual Musical Tribute to Mama took place at the church. The twelve honorees make a total of 155 deserving mothers celebrated over the years at this outstanding event. Christamas Day marked the Fith Annual Community Christmas Carol Sing-a-long at the Lefty Gordon World Peace Memorial Garden. [this park was created as a project by Fev. G, at the Phelan Loop and featers a lawn, 16 palm trees, and large letters embedded on the hillside with the message "Love Is The Answer"]. New Years Day, 2004, marked the beginning of the Annual Community Prayer at the Lefty Gordon Peace Garden. Another project led by Rev. G. was the remodeling of a dilapidated Phelan Loop bus waiting station, which had been scheduled to be demolished. The building was leased to the Ingleside Community Center for a business training experience for the youths participating in the center's programs.
Rev. G. is thankful for the central role the Holy Spirit led him to play in the development of the Rev. Dr. Eugene Farlough, Jr. California Chair of African-American Christianity at the San Francisco Theological Seminary. As President of the Northern California Chapter of the Black Presbyterian Caucus he conceived and coordinated the initial fund raising effort, a musical celebration at Calvary Presbyterian Church (which raised over $30,000 in donations and pledges) that got the project started. He is also proud of the fact that his suggestion to past Seminary President, the late Dr. Randy Taylor, that the seminary "Home Grown" its own loyal African American Professor led to the seminary doing just that and now the Rev. Dr. James Noel is the first scholar to fill the "Farlough Chair".
Rev. G and the Great CloudRev. G. believes his greatest work (still in process) is a Black History collage and mural ("The Great Clould of Witnesses") which he has been developing for over 27 years. It covers all four walls of the Rev. Roland Gordon Fellowship Hall (gymnasium) and spills over to other areas of the church building as well. It is believed to be the most extensive collage of its type anywhere. Speaking of this "Labor of Love", he says, "the collage is my favorite project. Former Mayor Willie Brown considers it my legacy to San Francisco. My prayer is that people of all races (especially African American youths) will be blessed by learning the truth about the rich contributions the sons and daughters of African decent have made to civilization and most especially to our country".