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Faith & Clergy

Churches Launch Car Park for Homeless



Oakland’s faith-based Safe Car Park Program for the homeless will hold a grand opening Monday, March 18, 10 a.m. at Williams Chapel Baptist Church, 1410 10th Ave. in Oakland.
The program is starting with funding provided by a grant of $50,000 from Alameda County.

Williams Chapel is the first of four sites in Oakland to implement the program.

Alameda County funding is tied to County District 3, but the money is flexible and will support the entire program developed by the Interfaith Council of Alameda County (ICAC), according to Pastor Ken Chambers of ICAC.

Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan said, “I’m thrilled that our work on the Council to authorize these programs to help the homeless, in partnership with our faith community—is becoming a reality.

“I am thankful for the dedication of our community and congregations stepping up to help, and I remain committed to continue the work to expand our homeless solutions to respond to the magnitude of the problem with dignity and effectiveness,” she said.

Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan said, “My office was glad to join the faith community to implement this temporary solution to the homeless crisis in Oakland.”

ADT will be installing security cameras within the next week at all four sites, and JJ Iron Company will install walk-in gates at three of the four sites. Additional lighting installation has yet to be scheduled.

Corinthians Baptist, Mount Zion Baptist Church and West Side Missionary Baptist Church each will have safe car park clients on their parking lots.

Lara Tannenbaum, from the City of Oakland Health and Human Service has committed to order and cover the cost of portable toilets at the sites, starting with the one toilet at Williams Chapel.

All other ICAC Safe Car Park sites will come online by mid-April 2019, providing that City of Oakland grant funds are available, said Pastor Chambers.


AME Church Elects New Leadership and Begins LGBTQ+ Discernment Process at 2021 General Conference

At the General Conference new bishops, general officers (department executives), and members of the Judicial Council were elected. The five incumbent general officers were retained.



Bishop Anne Henning Byfield
President of the Council of Bishops

Bishop Silvester S. Beaman

Bishop Frederick A. Wright












Bishop Marvin C. Zanders II

Bishop Francine A. Brookins










The 51st Quadrennial Session of the General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church met from July 6-10, 2021, at the West Concourse of the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. Over 1,600 delegates met as the church’s supreme governance body to review and change the denomination’s laws and policies, receive reports from its agencies, and elect denominational leadership.

Due to restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 200 delegates representing countries on the continent of Africa were unable to travel to the United States and were to participate via a satellite location in Cape Town, South Africa. After the South African government restricted in-person gatherings due to public health concerns, a virtual platform was created to allow these delegates to participate in the deliberations virtually.

“The 2021 General Conference was truly a test of the denomination’s resilience and capacity to adapt,” said Dr. Jeffery B. Cooper, general secretary of the AME Church. “In spite of the last-minute difficulties, we were able to ensure that all members of our family were able to share in this important aspect of the life of our Church. I am proud of our planning team and grateful to the AME Church leadership and delegates for their patience and understanding as we made this shift.”

In addition to the business of the General Conference, greetings were received from the president and vice president of the United States. AME church member and Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida delivered a keynote address to the assembly as well. Demings said that the role of the Church is to ensure that no one is left behind and that the most vulnerable…. are protected. Demings called the Church to collective action, saying, “the urgency is now.”

Among the legislation approved by the AME Church General Conference was an “AME Sexual Ethics Discernment Committee” designed to begin a three-year process to bring back recommendations to the 2024 General Conference. The committee is designed to “develop and propose legislation that undergirds the evangelical responsibility of the church ‘to minister to the social, spiritual, and physical development of all people’ – including people of various sexual orientations and gender identities.”

At the General Conference new bishops, general officers (department executives), and members of the Judicial Council were elected. The five incumbent general officers were retained. New persons elected to leadership in the AME Church include:


-The Right Reverend Silvester Beaman, 139th Elected & Consecrated Bishop (Pastor of Bethel AME Church, Wilmington, Del.)

-The Right Reverend Marvin C. Zanders, II, 140th Elected & Consecrated Bishop (Pastor of St. Paul AME Church, Jacksonville, Fla.)

-The Right Reverend Francine A. Brookins, 141st Elected & Consecrated Bishop (Pastor of Bethel AME Church, Fontana, Ca.)

-The Right Reverend Frederick A. Wright, Sr., 142nd Elected & Consecrated Bishop (Pastor of Quinn Chapel AME Church, Cincinnati, Ohio)

General Officers

-Mr. Marcus Henderson, treasurer/chief financial officer of the AME Church

-Rev. Dr. James Miller, executive director, Department of Retirement Services

-Rev. Dr. John Green, executive director, Global Witness, and Ministry

-Rev. Dr. Marcellus A. Norris, executive director, Department of Church Growth and Development

Judicial Council Members

-Rev. Dr. Jonathan C. Augustine, Judicial Council – Clergy

-Rev. Dr. O. Jerome Green, Judicial Council— Clergy

-Advocate Thabile Ngubeni, Judicial Council – Lay

-Mrs. Monice Crawford—Lay Alternate

These elections marked several significant milestones. As a South African, Advocate Ngubeni became the first African layperson elected to the General Conference to serve in the AME Church in any capacity. Bishop Beaman delivered the benediction for the inauguration of President Joseph Biden. Bishop Zanders is the first Morehouse College graduate elected as a Bishop in the AME Church. Bishop Francine A. Brookins is the fifth woman elected as a Bishop and is the daughter of the late Bishop Hamel Hartford Brookins. Bishop Wright is the first Bishop elected from Ohio since 1948 and the son of the first AME female Presiding Elder, Reverend Cornelia Wright.

The AME Church General Conference will next meet in July 2024 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“The 51st Session of the General Conference had ended with its joys and sorrows, challenges, and accomplishments and through it all, we saw the hand of God. To God, be the Glory!” said Bishop Anne Henning Byfield, president of the Council of Bishops.

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Formerly Incarcerated Can Help Bring Peace to the Streets

This wave of violence is very brutal but not new. And unless there is a miracle from our most high God, this violence won’t be eliminated.



Hasan Almasi/Unsplash

The uptick in violence and discord that we see permeating the Bay Area is also occurring nationwide.  It seems that we are entering a state of vindictive racial, cultural and religious chaos that is affecting all segments of our society.

This wave of violence is very brutal but not new. And unless there is a miracle from our most high God, this violence won’t be eliminated.

But we, by working together in harmony, can do something to develop pathways towards quelling the violence.

Through collective effort we can design an approach that focuses on the causes of these random acts of violence.

As we address the root causes of this daily increase of violence in our community, we will discover that it can be attributed to a variety of reasons which include acts of domestic violence, turf struggles and revengeful acts by some gangs, some rogue activity by a few police officers along with many other senseless racially motivated crimes toward Asians, Hispanic Americans, and African Americans.

To help find solutions to some of this frightening violence we must conduct an extensive outreach to our neighborhood and community groups, civil rights groups, churches and non-profit organizations to find knowledgeable persons who also have extensive experience in the streets of Oakland.

I responded to a challenge from Paul Cobb, the publisher of the Oakland Post, to utilize the network of the readers of my column to solicit solutions to crime and violence. Mr. Cobb and his wife, Gay, attended my graduation while I was in San Quentin and they told me to use my voice to help bring peace and healing to Oakland. 

When I heard that he, along with the Pastors of Oakland and several groups such as the NAACP, Chinatown and the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce had called for peace and unity at Chief Leronne Armstrong’s rally, I accepted his challenge to do outreach to members of the formerly incarcerated community.

I participated in a meeting with the formerly incarcerated and asked them to join with me to meet with Armstrong and any other official who want to employ solutions to the root causes of violence.

Some of the formerly incarcerated who were once complicit in carnage and destructive actions now say they truly understand why they must use their stories to help bring peace to our communities. 

More importantly, they know the ways of the streets and they know how to communicate with and are not fearful of the youth and others who are involved directly and indirectly in destructive acts.

They know they won’t be able to curb the violence in its entirety, but they have clearer insights as to why and what methods or solutions should be employed.

Many of the formerly incarcerated individuals who I have talked to want the media, the police department and our elected leaders to use their power to provide resources to help them bring peace to our community.

Under the auspices of “R.O.C.S.” (Restore Our Community Services), the formerly incarcerated want to work with the churches and other people of power and influence to bring positive approaches so we can witness some positive more peaceful results.

Let’s not allow violence to become the universal panacea for everything that is wrong within our minds. Violence can’t be allowed to replace the practice of civility. Let’s also use community diplomacy to resolve our differences.

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Bay Area

OCCUR Sponsors Consulting Lab for Faith-Based and Nonprofit organizations

Please join us on Thursday, July 22, 2021, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. when the FAITHS Program “A Model Built on Faith” (AMBOF) will hold a virtual One-on-One Consulting Lab.  



Occur Logo/Occur Website

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

– Galatians 6:9:

Please join us on Thursday, July 22, 2021, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. when the FAITHS Program “A Model Built on Faith” (AMBOF) will hold a virtual One-on-One Consulting Lab.  

This will be an opportunity for faith-based and nonprofit professionals to receive one-on-one and group support with challenges facing their nonprofits. We will have a number of consultants on the call, and they will provide technical assistance within an allotted time. You can RSVP by visiting our website, email or by calling OCCUR at (510) 839-2440. The training is recommended for faith-based organizations as well as nonprofit leaders.

Upcoming AMBOF Workshops

  • Clinic: One on One Consulting Lab – Thursday, July 22, 2021
  • The Power of Emerging Technologies for the Nonprofit Sector – Thursday, August 26, 2021
  • Changing Tides: Business Models that Could Save your Nonprofit Organization – Thursday, September 23, 2021
  • One Voice – 2021 FAITHS Leadership Forum & Year End Celebration Reception – Thursday, October 28, 2021

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