We call it “Dorris’ List” after the community dynamo who researched the places of worship in Bayview Hunters Point back in 2011. It needs some updating (please email us with suggestions), but this neighborhood faith listing is still the best we know of.
Dorris’ List was part of the Bayview by Foot walking tours project funded by SF Department of Public Health.
Pearl Gate Baptist on the corner of Revere and Latona is the oldest church in the neighborhood.
Dorris Vincent is 80+ years old going on 25. Her energy for working in the Bayview Hunters Point community is remarkable, and her wisdom is a quick reminder of the rich experience she brings to all she does.
In one day, Mrs. Vincent might be seen at Providence Baptist Church where she worships, a meeting of a community watchdog organization that she sits on, and at an event a community cultural center where she has been a stalwart leader. Whew!
Mrs. Vincent worked as an accomplished seamstress and her husband pursued a career as a professional printer as the Vincent family put down roots at Hunters Point. In October of 1969, Mrs. Vincent moved, along with her children, into the Victorian house on Palou Avenue in the heart of Bayview where she still lives.
Mrs. Vincent is a member of Providence Baptist on McKinnon which, together with Providence Foundation, is the largest church in the heart of Bayview.
“We all own the house on Palou,” she says referencing her children. “When I bought it, they came to me with their own savings, a tiny amount of money but enough to make the house a family purchase.”
Mrs. Vincent took a commitment to developing the faith tour portion of “Bayview by Foot” Walking Tours beyond all expectation. Not only did she design a lovely walk in the heart of Bayview, but she created the community’s best comprehensive listing of churches in the process.
The congregation at All Hallows Catholic Church on Newhall at Palou includes a large number of Samoan worshipers, and holds Spanish language services.
Where does this spirit of service come from? As they say, The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.
“I learned it from my parents and grandparents,” Mrs. Vincent says. “Growing up in Georgia, it wasn’t uncommon for me to wake up in the morning and find a few strangers at the breakfast table.”
She explains how, at that time, there was no lodging for African American travelers like there was for white travelers. Townspeople knew which families could help, and pointed anyone passing through to houses like Mrs. Vincent’s childhood home.
Nation of Islam maintains a mosque and a community center on 3rd Street and Revere.
“My father never charged anyone. People usually came on foot, or sometimes by mule and wagon. After spending the night, they would leave with breakfast under their belts and a packed lunch in hand.”
Some of the “fruit” of Mrs. Vincent’s family tree may have rolled as far as California, but not far in spirit. Faith and community are still budding on that tree. Dorris Vincent is still helping set Bayview Hunters Point’s standard for community involvement. And the Vincent children are carrying on the tradition.
Jeffrey Betcher, QGI/Footprints