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Oakland pastor turns the tables on church homophobia

This story originally aired in November 28, 2017 and it aired again in the March 28, 2024 episode of Crosscurrents.

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This year, Sunday marks the end of Women’s history month and the Christian holiday known as Easter. So, today we are bringing you a story about a woman who’s leading her church to be a refuge — not just for Christians, but for all people.

If you’re familiar with Black churches, you know that they’re lively and uplifting places. That’s how San Francisco native Yvette Flunder remembers hers.

At the Pentecostal church she grew up in, she recalls pastors and church leaders who were tender and kind and understanding.

That is, until the topic of homosexuality came up.

Flunder herself was, as she calls it, “a same-gender-loving-woman.” This kind of preaching drove her out of her church. But, she didn’t leave her religion. As a matter of fact, she went on to become a pastor. She is now Bishop Yvette Flunder of the City of Refuge United Church of Christ in Oakland. It’s a space she founded 25 years ago to be a church that’s culturally Black, and radically inclusive. 

"If this God thing is not healing, helping people — if all it's doing is condemning people and sending them to destruction, if there is no way for them to be their best and highest self, then why in the world are we even fooling with that?"

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