Our Story
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City Church exists to follow Christ to renew the city.

The Story of City Church

City Church (San Francisco) began as an idea back in 1991, and became a reality in February of 1997. Inspired by the work he had seen at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, Senior Pastor Fred Harrell moved with his wife Terely to San Francisco to start a church that would be in the city and for the city.

We exist to be a church for the city and for its renewal, partnering with God in the work that is already being done here. Read below for more information on our ministries, how to get connected.

City Church wholeheartedly embraces the historic Christian faith expressed in all the ecumenical creeds of the universal church (e.g., the Apostles and Nicene Creeds). It is also committed to the theological heritage of the Protestant Reformation as a member church of the Reformed Church in America, a denomination with roots back to the 1600's in America, and grounded in the historic reformation theology of the Belgic Confession, The Canons of Dordt, and the Heidelberg Catechism. The RCA's calling is be "the very presence of Jesus Christ in the world, a thousand churches in a million ways doing one thing-following Christ in mission, in a lost and broken world so loved by God."




Our Welcome

As a community of Jesus followers, we welcome all persons, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age, physical or mental capacity, education, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and socioeconomic or marital status.


Our Commitments

Our church respects the mystery of our existence. We believe that God's story is about God coming into that mystery as one of us to make all things new. Our goal isn't certainty, but renewal. An ongoing and authentic relationship with Jesus is the source of this renewal, giving us the gift of becoming new ourselves as well as participating in God’s re-creation of the world. As we learn about the character of the God who sent his son to die for us, our lives are reshaped from the inside out.

Liturgy (from the Greek leiturgia, "a public service") refers to the form in which things are done in a worship service. City Church is still fairly new, but it is not new in its beliefs and practices. We understand that people are always being shaped, and part of our response to that knowledge is to examine what we are being shaped by. Worship is formative, and our liturgy is shaped by the wisdom of the church throughout the centuries, rooted in Scripture and focused on Jesus.

City Church is a place for all people, regardless of where you might find yourself on your faith journey. If you are spiritually skeptical, curious about Christianity, or a committed follower of Jesus Christ, we make room for you wherever you are in your process. We aim to be a place that respects what it’s like not to believe so that no one has to feel alone and so that anyone who walks through our doors might encounter the work of the living God.

City Church has never been a church only for ourselves, just as San Francisco is not a place for us to simply enjoy or consume. The city is our home and we seek its peace and flourishing. Serving the city involves not only a change in our hearts, it requires a redirection of our hands and feet as we turn from being inward-focused to outward-looking. We see our service as sharing the renewal we are experiencing in Christ with our neighbors.


Our Affiliated Ministries

City Hope Community Center

The City Hope Community Center is located in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood and grew out of the relationships we have built in that area. The center houses our City Hope staff offices and includes plenty of space that can be easily converted for different kinds of programs and activities. This location allows us to continue our work to reduce recidivism and to aid those in the addiction recovery process.

Church Planting/Partnering

City Church is active in new church development globally, nationally, and locally. Within the Bay Area, City Church of San Francisco has begun new churches in San Rafael, Berkeley and Silicon Valley. City Church has never been a church only for itself. We have been responsible for planting and coaching 23 congregations across America.

Newbigin House of Studies

The Newbigin House of Studies is named after Lesslie Newbigin, a British theologian and missiologist whose view of The Gospel in a Pluralist Society has profoundly shaped the way many Christians see the work of the gospel. In an increasingly secular culture, the Newbigin House's mission is to provide theological, cultural, and spiritual formation for those interesting in a wise and engaging missional impact.

There are three programs at Newbigin House: the Newbigin Fellowship for lay persons, the Newbigin Year for ministry leaders, and a number of continuing education opportunities for pastors.

The Newbigin Fellowship is a nine-month program of personal and spiritual development. The seminary program, the Newbigin Year, is a part-time, cohort-based, distance-learning program for students discerning a call to ministry. Seminary partners for this program include Fuller Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and Western Theological Seminary. Continuing education offerings for pastors include a winter pastors colloquy in San Francisco and a summer conference at Cambridge University.

Our goal with the Newbigin House of Studies is to remain true to the life that Jesus gave to the word “mission.” We are committed to helping you live out your theology in the cafe or the pub, in your apartment or at work, so that as Newbigin said, "the life of Jesus is being reproduced in the life of the homes and offices and factories" of the city.

Counseling Center

Christian Counseling is a rare thing in this city. Because of that, we want to help shape, develop, and train more Christian counselors who have the DNA of how we approach counseling. And with all of that, we want to have an influence in the therapeutic community in San Francisco. A Christian perspective leads to all these discussions around our dignity, humanity, what is harmful, worldviews, how they get shaped. Part of our hope long-term is to have more of a voice in that community, which leads us to emphasize our professional nature.

We believe it is a beautiful thing for a church to be involved in offering counseling, because people need multiple layers of care. A counselor fills a different role than a pastor or a friend. In the context of a church, it's not just counseling as an isolated endeavor, but counseling connected with a community to join.

City Church Counseling Center