Rev. Lynice Pinkard was born in Santa Barbara, CA to Marquita Kinard and the late Reverend Daniel Pinkard. Lynice was primarily raised in St. Louis, MO and Oakland, CA and nurtured in life and faith in the A. M. E. church. As a result of her rich heritage in the Black church and the witness of her parents’ commitment to social justice, she came early to understand the ways in which disparities of power and forms of oppression affect the quality of the lives of many people in America and around the world.
Lynice came of age, personally and professionally—as an educator and writer, grassroots organizer and community builder, pastor and prophetic public witness, counselor and healer—in the badlands of the HIV/AIDS and crack cocaine epidemics of the 1980s. In 1991, under the leadership of Rev. Yvette Flunder, she joined in the work of founding City of Refuge Community Church, and together they brought City of Refuge into full membership in the United Church of Christ. Rev. Pinkard served as the Associate pastor of City of Refuge, UCC until 1996 while simultaneously directing programs in community based organizations in San Francisco and in the East Bay that served persons living with HIV/AIDS.
Later, Lynice turned her attention (and her MS degree in Counseling Psychology) to the acute traumas associated with community gun violence and sexual assault. She developed 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 citywide Critical Incident Response.
For the past 30 years, Lynice has worked on the front lines and at the intersections of multiple overlapping environmental and social justice issues, but even amidst intensive community involvement, she has never left the ministries of the church. In 1998, after obtaining Master of Divinity and Master of Arts degrees from the Pacific School of Religion, she was ordained in the United Church of Christ and was called to be the first African American, lesbian associate pastor and then senior pastor of First Congregational Church of Oakland. While pastoring at First Oakland, Lynice 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 recyclers, 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).
After leaving congregational ministry in 2010, Rev. Pinkard served for several years as a hospital and then hospice chaplain. Now, having shifted her emphasis away from institutional contexts and more intentionally toward her constituent communities in the Bay Area and across the country, she continues to engage her life long passion for working at the intersections of spiritual formation and social justice. Her work is dedicated to decolonizing the human spirit through writing, teaching, healing and activism and to freeing people from what she calls “empire affective disorder.” Through powerful movements like The Movement for Black Lives and through localized justice coalitions and communities in the Bay Area and across the country, she works on the front lines 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, Lynice was interviewed by the Sun Magazine for a piece entitled Dangerous Love: On the Revolutionary Act of Living the Gospels. Rev. 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.