Founding Pastor, Rev. Dr. H. Eugene Farlough Jr.
The Reverend Dr. H. Eugene Farlough Jr. was born in New Orleans, LA and reared in Los Angeles, CA. He was the only child of Rev. Herman Farlough and his wife Willie Belle. He grew up in the Watts section of Los Angeles where he attended Fremont High School. He attended Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo, where he received his BA degree. While at Cal-Poly he received the “Call” to seek a religious vocation. Initially he envisioned a career as a Christian Educator, but eventually he sensed that God wanted to use him in another way – as a minister of word and sacrament. Consequently, he enrolled at the San Francisco Theological Seminary (SFTS) where he was awarded his Master of Divinity degree. He later earned a Doctor of Divinity degree at SFTS.
Rev. Farlough’s ministerial work began with Faith Presbyterian Church in Oakland CA, where he served as a Student Pastor while attending Seminary. He was later installed as pastor, but left Faith in 1969 to become an Associate at The Center for Urban Black Studies, an affiliate program of the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) in Berkeley, CA. During this time he continued to wrestle with a desire to return to the pastorate. This led to conversations with several members of Faith about the possibility of establishing a Black Presbyterian Church in the College District of Richmond, CA. This is how the seeds that would grow up to be Sojourner Truth Church were planted.
As founding and organizing pastor, Rev. Farlough worked tirelessly to build the membership and serve their needs while at the same time becoming an important figure in the Richmond community and the wider Presbyterian Church in the Bay Area and beyond. By the time he accepted a “Call” away from Sojourner after 22 years of service in 1994, he had led STPC into becoming a firmly established church with a powerful ministry and more than 300 members. He had mentored and was an advocate for dozens of men and women who also sensed a “Call” to ordained ministry, had served as Moderator of the Presbytery of San Francisco and been a delegate to General Assembly. One of his greatest passions was the effort to make the curriculum and life of SFTS and the GTU inclusive of the work of African American scholars and welcoming to African American students by seeking to increase the number of Black faculty. He felt this was an important way to “…demonstrate the inclusivity of the Church and to promote the angle of vision of the Black perspective in theological education.”
In 1994 Rev. Farlough accepted a new mission – to become the Coordinator of Student and Community Life at The Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in Atlanta, GA. He served there only 22 months before his untimely passing on May 28, 1996. He is still fondly remembered by His wife Arlyce, his 2 sons Chris and Milynn, and all whom his ministry touched.
In 2003 The San Francisco Theological Seminary honored Rev. Farlough’s legacy by establishing the H. Eugene Farlough Chair of African American Christianity. It is the school’s first chair named for an African American.