The God of Hope

Pastor Ama Zenya -- December 9, 2007

Scriptures for today:  Romans 15:1-13

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Pastor Ama Zenya grew up in Kenya, East Africa, the daughter of a British-Kenyan father and an Irish-American mother. Her experiences as a global citizen have kindled in her a passion to build relationships of respect, love, vision and solidarity among and with people of all cultures, and with our earth.

The intention in her ministry is the liberation of human beings from the structures and effects of sin and alienation. Her life finds roots in the spirit and teaching of Jesus Christ, who in John’s gospel, says, “…I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Pastor Ama attended high school in Palo Alto, California, and earned a Bachelor or Arts degree in Religion and Women’s Studies from Wesleyan University in Connecticut. She received both her Master of Divinity degree and her Master of Arts in Biblical Studies from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA.

In seminary, Pastor Ama served as a Pastoral Intern at the City of Refuge United Church of Christ in San Francisco. Following seminary she completed a Chaplaincy internship at St. Mary’s Hospital in San Francisco, and then went to Michigan, where she served as Associate Pastor at the First Congregational Church of Saginaw, Michigan. Pastor Ama also received specialized training in Church Renewal from the Church Multiplication Training Center, and in Leadership Development from the Gamaliel Foundation.

In August of 2001, the First Congregational Church of Oakland called Pastor Ama to lead a revitalization of the congregation. Over the last 6 years, the congregation has more than trippled its worshipping community and the church campus is an active community center, engaging people of all faiths in building Arts-Positive, Multicultural, Peace-and-Justice Making and Spirit-Led community.

In 2002, Pastor Ama co-founded Arts First Oakland, to foster and exhibit the creativity and beauty of Oakland’s diverse cultural heritage, promoting spiritual growth and community transformation through artistic empowerment.

In 2004, Rev. Ama Zenya chaired Oakland’s Rolling Thunder campaign which brought together over 40 clergy of all faith traditions, with union workers, teachers, political leaders and over 1000 people standing up for justice in Oakland – including affordable housing, immigrants’ rights and equitable funding for the education of all Oakland’s young people.

Pastor Ama has served as a speaker and leader with the Network of Spiritual Progressives, giving voice to ‘the spiritual left,’ a faith-based alternative to ‘the religious right.’ She is active with the Gamaliel network, an international community organizing institute, building leaders to strengthen congregations to transform communities. She serves on Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums’ Network for Interfaith Action.

Pastor Ama continues to be an activist for justice and love, inspired by the vision of the beloved community that stands at the heart of prophetic Christian faith. She brings to her ministry passion, energy and a contagious commitment to the liberating gospel embodied in Jesus Christ.

Pastor Ama is married to Javier “Sergio” Martinez. They live in West Oakland and are happily enjoying their their first child.

She and her husband have created a new family website at