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Church Plant Thrives Within San Francisco's Marina Community

For many churches, San Francisco was a graveyard, but Canvas SF church has found the community to be a garden of opportunity.

San Francisco might be known in some circles as a hostile environment for people of certain political or religious affiliations. But Assemblies of God church planters Travis and Jena Clark have experienced quite the opposite.

Canvas SF church opened in October 2013 with 23 people in the Presidio Theatre in the city’s Marina district, walking distance from the Golden Gate Bridge. The church has grown to more than 350 people today.

After months of building relationships in the community and closely studying its cultural pulse, the Clarks (with a dedicated team of volunteers) formed a plan for reaching the community that emphasized love, service, and cultivating the “community and family” atmosphere that locals enjoy.

“Often what we call a ‘graveyard,’ God calls a ‘garden,’” Travis Clark says. “I was told San Francisco was a graveyard for previous churches. But it’s actually a garden bursting with life and wonder and a future. God does not give up on anyone, and neither should we.”

In every service a significant number of seekers, skeptics, and even atheists come to observe, experience and question. Canvas SF welcomes every critique and piece of feedback from visitors.

“What God has formed here is a growing family of believers and non-believers who are discovering what it means to be fully alive in Jesus,” Clark says. “’Unity even if there isn’t uniformity’ has been the most common comment from people in our community; they say that Canvas SF is diverse, and yet people seem to genuinely love one another.”

In illustration, the church’s strongest financial partner for two years after its launch was an individual who was an atheist. “In the past he didn’t believe in God,” Clark says. “But he found something to be very real and powerful about what was happening at Canvas SF, and he wanted to invest personally. He is now a believer. God is good!”

Canvas SF needed to be a “mobile church” in order to find such a prime location in its community. Before every service, church staff and volunteers set up portable sound equipment and musical instruments. After service, everything is packed up until next time. AGTrust matching funds were a major factor in helping the Clarks purchase the equipment needed to launch and sustain Canvas SF.


The Assemblies of God Trust (AGTrust) is charged with special initiatives from the Office of the General Superintendent to advance a healthy, growing Assemblies of God Fellowship and to empower future generations. Those initiatives are: to plant churches; strengthen existing churches; and scholarship future leaders.