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Pastors of Oakland, Oakland Police Expanding Community Chaplaincy Program

The program is seeking clergy with cultural competency to meet the needs of Oakland citizens who are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist – especially in Asian, Latino and African American communities.

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Pastor Phyllis Scott is president of Pastors of Oakland. Photo courtesy of Phyllis Scott. By Post Staff

In preparation for building up the Community Chaplaincy Program with the Oakland Police Department (OPD), the Pastors of Oakland (POC) is looking for potential chaplains to serve  citizens in the worst of times.

According to Phyllis Scott, pastor of Tree of Life Empowerment Ministries and current president of Pastors of Oakland, OPD Chief LeRonne Armstrong is looking for at least 30 men and women to accompany officers to help victims of crime and their families who are in crisis.

The crises can range from homicide to sexual assault, to domestic violence, to car accidents and more.

Community Chaplains must have the ability to serve believers and non-believers alike and “must advocate for healing regardless of faith,” Scott said.

The program is seeking clergy with cultural competency to meet the needs of Oakland citizens who are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist – especially in Asian, Latino and African American communities.

Not all Community Chaplains must have a religious affiliation. Professionals like teachers, caregivers and healers who have several years working in community may also serve.

Though Scott feels that some cultural values can be taught in the training, it’s not so easy to teach a language, and so bilingual chaplains will also be in demand.

“We are looking for people who have heart for Oakland,” she said.

Lt. Aaron Smith, who is assisting Chief Armstrong in expanding the program, agrees. Currently, there are 15-25 chaplains on call but “not all are willing to go where emotions are running high,” he said.

Once the details are hammered out, dates will be set for training, Scott said, who was herself certified to do this work in 2009. The training, six weekly sessions, will include instruction by specialists familiar with the emotional states of people who are in shock because of a homicide, domestic violence, sexual assault, and sex trafficking “without interfering with law enforcement,” Scott said.

Typical needs are help with planning a vigil, getting the body of a victim out of the morgue, finding a church or a place to hold a funeral that isn’t too expensive. Once those issues are dealt with, the family can freely grieve, and then they can begin to heal.

Scott cited an instance where a boy was shot to death, and the family and community, fearing reprisal, were essentially afraid to grieve openly. That’s where the chaplaincy came in, joining forces with OPD so the young man was funeralized safely, Scott said.

OPD and Pastors of Oakland want chaplains who are located in all parts of the city, roughly East Oakland, West Oakland and North Oakland. Once contacted by OPD, a ‘beat’ captain will call on the chaplain or chaplains in that area who have agreed to be available day or night.

Besides the city streets, Scott would like to see Community Chaplains at Highland Hospital, which is where many trauma victims are treated and where further violence against victims can be perpetrated as when gang members try to kill someone who survived an attack.

Scott said she is bracing for an escalation in violence, not just because it’s almost summer, the most dangerous season of the year, but because homicides were already alarmingly high so far this year, despite the pandemic.

Last month, there were four homicides in one week: two 17-year-old boys were shot to death, and the next day two teenaged girls died when a party bus was shot up by more than one assailant as it traveled from the freeway and ended up at 73rd and MacArthur –  just a few blocks from Scott’s home. She wished she could haven there.

For those interested in learning more about the Community Chaplains, please call Pastors of Oakland at 510-688-7437.

 

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Bay Area

Pan-Hellenic Council Awards Scholarships to Hundreds of High School Seniors

The San Francisco-Bay Area National Pan Hellenic Council hosted its 49th Annual Scholarship Reception in Oakland on Saturday where more than two dozen local fraternities and sororities awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to hundreds of deserving Bay Area students.

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More than 200 people attended the scholarship reception hosted by the San Francisco-Bay Area National Pan Hellenic Council. Photo by Chika Emeka.
More than 200 people attended the scholarship reception hosted by the San Francisco-Bay Area National Pan Hellenic Council. Photo by Chika Emeka.

By Tuseda A. Graggs

Special to The Post

The San Francisco-Bay Area National Pan Hellenic Council hosted its 49th Annual Scholarship Reception in Oakland on Saturday where more than two dozen local fraternities and sororities awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to hundreds of deserving Bay Area students.

The event, held at Merritt College in the Huey P. Newton-Bobby Seale Student Center, honored the accomplishments of high school seniors from schools throughout the Bay Area. More than 300 people attended the two-hour event.

Students received scholarships from Bay Area chapters of the Black Greek letter organizations – better known as the Divine 9 –which include: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc.

Oakland City Councilwoman Treva Reid (District 7) encouraged students to persevere through the challenges that they will inevitably face in college. She discussed her challenges of becoming pregnant at Hampton University, birthing her daughter, and struggling financially yet sticking it out and graduating from college.

Shanga Goman, the City of Oakland’s former Youth Poet Laureate also blessed attendees with a motivational poem providing guidance to his younger self as a college student.

In addition to the tuition scholarships awarded, the Pan Hellenic Council drew numbers to give away six $500 book scholarships and two dozen gift cards for students.

For more information about the National Pan Hellenic Council – San Francisco Bay Area and about the Bay Area’s Black Greek Letter Organizations, please visit https://www.sfbaynphc.com/.

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Bay Area

A Summer of Reckoning for the Unhoused: The Work Before Us in Oakland

The summer of 2024 promises to be a season of reckoning for both the City of Oakland and Alameda County. The ever-present threat of gun violence, high rates of burglary, robbery and car break-ins, the lack of accessible mental health care, the scourge of sex trafficking, and the imperative need for affordable housing needs to be reckoned with. The Interfaith Council of Alameda County (ICAC) is committed to working with the faith community, service providers, advocates, businesses, and city and county officials to address the reckoning before us.

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Pastor Kenneth Chambers
Pastor Kenneth Chambers

OPINION

By Pastor Kenneth Chambers

Special to The Post

The summer of 2024 promises to be a season of reckoning for both the City of Oakland and Alameda County. The ever-present threat of gun violence, high rates of burglary, robbery and car break-ins, the lack of accessible mental health care, the scourge of sex trafficking, and the imperative need for affordable housing needs to be reckoned with.

The Interfaith Council of Alameda County (ICAC) is committed to working with the faith community, service providers, advocates, businesses, and city and county officials to address the reckoning before us.

The need for emergency housing is apparent. The number of unhoused people in our city and county is both staggering and heartbreaking with a 9% increase in Oakland’s unhoused community since 2022, according to a recent report from EveryOne Home.

ICAC provides emergency housing in Oakland with a safe car park and tiny homes for people living in their cars. ICAC is also planning to develop a transitional housing village at West Side Missionary Baptist Church in Oakland with 25 trailers available to house individuals and families that are currently unhoused.

West Side MBC, at 732 Willow Street in West Oakland, is looking to partner with other congregations across Alameda County that are interested in developing transitional housing with trailers on their properties.

“There is a need for more action and funding from the state, and city and county officials to provide solutions to the homelessness crisis in Alameda County,” said Rev. Ken Chambers, Sr., pastor of West Side MBC and president of ICAC. “We want to provide unhoused people with stable, transitional housing where they can feel safe and give them some hope. But we can’t do it alone. Working together works.”

“How much more can we take?” asks Dr. Kenneth Anderson, pastor of Williams Chapel Baptist Church. “Public safety is my No. 1 focus and the need for more affordable housing for all people in Oakland. Too many people are homeless, sleeping in their cars and deserve a safe place to sleep.”

Tree of Life Empowerment Pastor Phyllis Scott also supports the proposed collaboration. “As the president of the Oakland community chaplain program, we stand in agreement and in total support of the mission. And the great reckoning that needs to take place and the belief that ICAC is the organization that can see that happen.  All for the shalom of the city,” she says.

On Thursday, July 11 from 1:00-2:30 p.m., community members are invited to join ICAC at Williams Chapel Baptist Church, 1410 10th Ave. in Oakland, to reckon with the unfolding crises before us. We believe having “all hands on deck” can move our communities in the necessary direction towards solutions.

For more information or questions, visit www.interfaithac.org.

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Arts and Culture

West Oakland Juneteenth Event Cultivated Love for All

Since 2008, Barbara Howard of B-H Brilliant Minds’ has prided herself on holding the last Juneteenth event in Oakland. And since, unlike most other Bay Area cities, Oakland has not hosted a free observation of the holiday celebrating the end of chattel slavery in the U.S., Howard’s is also the only formally organized Juneteenth event in the city.

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Oakland Black Cowboys Association President Wilbert McAlister leads a girl on a pony ride at the B-H Brilliant Minds Juneteenth. Photo by Daisha Williams.
Oakland Black Cowboys Association President Wilbert McAlister leads a girl on a pony ride at the B-H Brilliant Minds Juneteenth. Photo by Daisha Williams.

By Daisha Williams

Since 2008, Barbara Howard of B-H Brilliant Minds’ has prided herself on holding the last Juneteenth event in Oakland.

And since, unlike most other Bay Area cities, Oakland has not hosted a free observation of the holiday celebrating the end of chattel slavery in the U.S., Howard’s is also the only formally organized Juneteenth event in the city.

From the beginning, Howard brought in grass roots entertainment that was by and for the West Oakland community. Subtitled “Reaching for Wholeness, One Love & One Liberation, the festival was held Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Running from 32nd and Market to San Pablo and Brockhurst, there were stages on both sides of the block, as well as more activities in a courtyard and inside the West Oakland Youth Center.

The day started with a libation for the ancestors by Clint Sockwell, and the ring shout, a homage to the ancestors provided by Omnira Institute’s Awon Ohun Omnira (Voices of Freedom.)

Also on stages all day were R&B, rap, gospel performances, live DJs.

The festival was lively and active, with people constantly milling about, chatting with each other, taking part in activities, dancing, and eating. Events like these are what keeps Oakland a place of community.

With so many different activities– there was really something for everyone. Present were the Made-Men Bay Area Motorcycle Club, a martial arts demonstration, and a quilting exhibit.

There were many vendors selling clothes, jewelry, bags, and even hand dipped incense and candles as well as local organizations such as Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency (BOSS) and Community Ready Corps (CRC).

There were crafts and free posters being made and the Oakland Public Library giving out books, performances, and music on the stages– there was every opportunity to have a fun and fulfilling time without spending a single dollar.

The Oakland Black Cowboy Association was there giving free, guided horse and pony rides to anyone who wanted one. Their 50-year anniversary is this year, and they are hosting a parade and festival in celebration on Oct. 5 at DeFremery Park.

The Black cowboys go to many events like these providing opportunities to ride a horse to children and adults alike who might not have this opportunity otherwise.

Wilbert F. McAlister, who has been president of the organization for 20 years, was there and you could see the joy on his face as he watched people have this wonderful experience.

B-H Brilliant Minds is a local 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization that serves the Oakland community. Founded by Barbara Howard, they put on this Juneteenth every year. At the event Howard talked about why she puts this event on.

She called all the youth to the stage and told them that this event is put on for them, that they are strong, beautiful, and capable, that they are the future of Black excellence. This event is intended to show them how loved and supported they are in this community, in hopes that they will pass that love down to the next generation.

B-H Brilliant Minds does more than just Juneteenth. They lead three programs: economic empowerment, holistic wellness, and one called The Cutting Edge. The Cutting Edge focuses on self-improvement, leadership skills, and other types of personal growth. Each program consists of at least three workshops and registration is available on their website (bhbrilliantminds.org ).

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