Reverend Lynice Pinkard was born in Santa Barbara, California, and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. At 14, she came out as a lesbian. At 15, she moved to the Bay Area with her parents and finished high school at Skyline High School in Oakland, California. At 16, she left the Bay Area to attend college at a Historically Black College, Hampton University, in Virginia. As a result of her rich heritage in the A.M.E. Church and the witness of her parents’ commitment to social justice, Lynice developed an early and keen sensitivity to the ways in which disparities of power and forms of oppression affect the quality of the lives of people in America and around the world.
Reverend Pinkard came of age, personally and professionally -- as an educator and writer, grassroots organizer and community-builder, pastor and prophetic public witness, counsellor and healer -- in the badlands of the HIV/AIDS and crack cocaine epidemics of the 1980s. She directed community-based programs in San Francisco and the East Bay that served LGBTQI communities and persons living with HIV/AIDS. Later, she turned her attention (and her MS degree in Counseling Psychology) to the acute traumas associated with community gun violence and sexual assault, developing a model program to build the capacity of families and communities to grieve in ways that would deepen their resilience, be restorative for the community as a whole, and begin to build the public will to address the underlying causes of violence. She received numerous commendations for her work to develop and implement a comprehensive plan for city-wide Critical Incident Response.
Even amidst intensive community involvement, Reverend Pinkard has never been able to leave the ministries of the church. Under the leadership of Reverend Yvette Flunder, she co-founded City of Refuge Community Church. Reverend Pinkard went on to get Master of Divinity and Master of Arts degrees from the Pacific School of Religion, and was subsequently ordained in the United Church of Christ. She was then called to be the first African American, lesbian Associate Pastor, and then the senior pastor, of First Congregational Church of Oakland.
Reverend Pinkard continues to engage her life-long passion for social justice. In recent years, she has co-founded and supported several ministry-focused, community-based non-profits: Share First Oakland (addressing issues of hunger and structural food insecurity); Urban Sanctuary (building therapeutic collaborations between West Oakland activists and neighborhood residents, e.g., community gardeners and recylcers, artists and restorative justice advocates, marriage equality advocates and formerly incarcerated African American men in West Oakland neighborhoods); and Seminary of the Street (forming and training West Oakland neighborhood residents for faith-based critical justice work).
Having recently shifted her emphasis away from the institutional context of congregational ministry and more intentionally toward her constituent communities, Reverend Pinkard’s current work is dedicated to decolonizing the human spirit through teaching, healing, and activism in the Bay Area and nationally, and to freeing people from what she calls “empire affective disorder.” Through powerful movements like Black Lives Matter, she works nationally to inspire and nurture a new generation of what she calls “resurrectionaries,” Spirit-filled servant-leaders dedicated to the remediation of day-to-day suffering, the building of collective resilience for transformative change, and the pursuit of structural and systemic justice in the world.
In 2014, Reverend Pinkard was interviewed by The Sun magazine for a piece she entitled Dangerous Love: On the Revolutionary Act of Living the Gospels. Reverend Pinkard’s writings include Jane in the Blackboard Jungle, The Downward Mobility of God, The Master’s Mehserle Can Never Dismantle the Master’s House, and Revolutionary Suicide: Risking Everything to Transform Society and Live Fully. These pieces, along with others, will comprise a book of Pinkard’s Selected Writings, to be published in early 2018.