First Cong;l Church | 2501 Harrison Street | Oakland, CA | 510-444-8511First Congregational Church of Oakland

"Where Love is First!"

Pastors of First Congregational Church of Oakland:
1860 - 2014(click Pastor's name for bio)

In December 2011, after prayerfull discernment, the members of First Congregational Church of Oakland voted to become a Lay Lead ministry. Currently, we have no pastoral leadership also known as 'an open pulpit". Below is a listing of our pastors over the years in chronological order.

Pastor Annie Steinberg-Berhman

Pastor Annie Steinberg-BehrmanJul 2013 - Sep 2014

In the July 2013 Congregational Forum, Rev. Annie was called to the Pastoral Triad by the Members of First Congregational Church of Oakland.

In 2005, Annie become a member of the United Church of Christ. She has served in a variety of ministerial settings, including Chaplain, Solo Pastor, Associate Pastor, Acting Head of Staff, Evangelist for That All May Freely Serve, Interim Pastor and Spiritual Director.

Annie loves to make art, make music, cook and bake, cultivate her garden and read mysteries. Annie lives in Berkeley with her wife Victoria with their dog, four cats, one bird and two lizards.

Between them Annie and Victoria have four children, ranging in age from 34 to 16, a daughter-in law, a son-in-law and one wonderful granddaughter.

Priestess Akinu Nefu Ase'lada (Crystal Riles)

Priestess Akhi Nu Crystal RilesSep 2012 - Apr 2014

Priestess Akinu Nefu Ase'lada is a member of First Congregational Church of Oakland and has served on the Worship and Arts Committee since 2009.

In September 2012, she was called by the Congregation to the Pastoral Triad to serve as a Co-Pastor. In April 2014, Priestess Akhi Nu stepped down from the Pastoral Triad.

Co-Pastor Akinu Nefu Ase'lada is a Priestess in the Kemetic tradition. She lives in Oakland with her daughter.



Jean Jeffress

Jean JeffressSep 2012 - Sep 2013

When Jean came to First Congregational Church of Oakland in February of 2009, she was not a Christian, but very quickly came to believe that a life walking with Jesus is a means to radical hospitality, inclusion and personal transformation.

She became a member of FCCO in March of 2009 and has been serving the church in many different ways since that time. Most recently, she was called by the congregation to serve on the pastoral triad, the community's lay-led pastoral leadership. Jean became a licensed minister through the Northern California Nevada Conference, United Church of Christ in order to better serve the lay-led church community and to be in good standing with the denomination.

Jean has begun attending the American Baptist Seminary of the West in Berkeley in Fall 2013.


Pastor Roland Stringfellow

Pastor Roland StringfellowOct 2010 - Dec 2011 (Acting Pastor),

Dec 2011 - June 2013 (Pastoral Triad)

Rev. Roland Stringfellow was called by the Congregation in October 2013 to serve as Acting Pastor sheparding the congregation during the Great Transofrmation to Lay Lead Ministry.

He was then called to and served on FCCO's first Pastoral Triad formed in December 2011.

Rev. Stringfellow earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Education and a Master of Science degree in Counseling from Indiana University. He later earned a Master of Arts degree in Ministry from Grace Theological Seminary and in 1990 became a licensed minister in the Baptist Church.

In 2005, Roland was ordained with the Metropolitan Community Church and in 2006 he earned his Master of Divinity from the Pacific School of Religion with a certificate in Religion and Sexuality. He has worked as a pastor in Indiana and California. In addition to all his work within church contexts, Roland also worked in the field education in a variety of capacities – teacher, guidance counselor, college advisor, and vice-principal.

Currently Rev. Stringfellow is continuing his work in creating dialogs on the topic of LGBT equality with church congregations and in religious institutions in his role as the Coordinator of the Coalition of Welcoming Congregations in the Bay Area of California with the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Sexuality on the campus of Pacific School of Religion.

In June 2013, Pastor Roland relocated to Detroit, Michigan with his husband Jerry Peterson. In August 2014, Roland was called by the Detroit Metropolitan Community Church to serve as their Senior Pastor.

Please visit his Pastor Page for a listing of his sermons.

Pastor Jeanne Loveless

Pastor Jeanne Loveless

Jun 2010 - Oct 2010

Rev. Jeanne Loveless is an Interim and Transitional Ministry Specialist and served as Interim Senior Pastor of First Congregational Church of Oakland (United Church of Christ) from June 2010 until October 2011.

Jeanne is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and an Ordained Ministerial Partner in the Northern California Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ.

Her special ministry passions are helping spiritual communities be sane, sustainable, and spirit-filled.



Pastor Lynice Pinkard

Pastor Lynice Pinkard

Apr 2008 - May 2009

Pastor Lynice served FCCO as Associate Pastor under Pastor Ama Zenya before being called to Senior Pastor by the Congregation.

She was the first African American to serve as Pastor at FCCO.

Please visit her Pastor Page for a listing of her sermons.

Pastor Ama Zenya

Pastor Ama Zenya

Aug 2001 - Apr 2008

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.

She resigned her ministry on April 13, 2008.


Interm Senior Pastor Paul Telfer-Smith

Pastor Paul Tefler-smith

199?? - 19??

Pastor Smith served as Interm Pastor from date to date.

Pastor Eugene Sill

Pastor Eugene Sill

199?? - 19??

Author of "The Church Continues" Issued on the Occasion of the 125th Anniversary of First Congregational Church of Oakland.

Pastor Clarance Reidenbach

Pastor Jeanne Loveless

Aug 1, 1933 - 1962

Pastor Reidenbach was very instrumental in revitalizing the church in the 1940-50's. Here is a link to his Centennial Sermon. He retired September 16, 1962.

Dr. Loyal Lincoln Wirt, Associate Minister

Pastor Jeanne Loveless

19?? - 19??

Rev. Lincoln B. Wirt served as Associate Minister with Pastor Reidenbach and is the son of the late "saddleback missionary" Pastor Loyal Lincoln Wirt of FCCO.

Lincoln is the son of Dr. Loyal Lincoln Wirt, minister, missionary, and author of "The World Was My Parish,” and other books. Following his graduation from Yale Theological Seminary Rev. Wirt was ordained by his father and Dr. C. S. Rice retired, from the San Rafael Congregational Church as interim pastor.

Lincoln was later called as the pastor of the First Congregational Church of Memphis, Tennessee and the First Congregational Church of San Rafael, California. Lincoln has also served churches in Idaho. Washington. Oregon, Wyoming and Missouri prior to Memphis.

Both he and his wife are natives of the West Coast. Rev. Wirt was born in Oakland and Mrs. Wirt, a graduate of Pacific University, is a native of Oregon.

Pastor Dr. Loyal Lincoln Wirt

Pastor Dr. Loyal Lincoln Wirt

1922 - 19??

Pastor Dr. Lincoln Wirt was famously known as a "saddlebag missionary". He traveled to California's and Alaska's mining camps. In Juneau during the Alaska gold rush, he opened a social center, including books and comforts for down-and-outers, which was surrounded by more than 40 saloons.

He was born in Lamont, Michigan on May 3, 1863. His father was a congregational minister. Loyal graduated from Pacific Theological Seminary in 1890. for the next eight years, he traveled by horseback to the mining camps and isolated communities and established 500 Sunday schools and churches. He organized Australia's first kindergarted and was a war correspndent in Italy and France in 1917-18.

Loyal served as Associate Pastor at First Congregational Church in Oakland. After "retiring", he served as pastor of the Community Congregational Church in Etiwanda. and in 1958 at 95, he established a congregational church in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Loyal passed on April 28, 1961 just a few days before his 98th birthday.

Rev. Francis Joseph Van Horn, Sixth Pastor

Pastor Jeanne LovelessMay 6, 1914 - Oct 30, 1922

Rev. Francis J. Van Horn was the fourth and sixth pastor for First Congregational Church of Oakland.

Here is his bio.



Pastor Robert Elliot Brown, Fifth Pastor

Pastor Jeanne LovelessMay 18, 1924 - Jun 1, 1929

First sermon was at the Temple Sinai "God's Help from the Hills"

Acting (Interm) Pastors

Pastor Jeanne LovelessRev. Lynn T. White, Acting Pastor
Sep 7, 1923 - May 18, 1924

Rev. Dr. Scwartz, Acting Pastor
Dec 5, 1922 - Sep 7, 1923

Rev. Ralph C. Wadell, Acting Pastor
May 5, 1922 - Dec 5, 1922

Ralph C. Wadell, Acting (Interm) Pastor

May 5, 1922 - Dec 5, 1922

Rev. Ralph C. Wadell was acting pastor for First Congregational Church of Oakland.

Here is his bio.

Rev. Francis Joseph Van Horn, Fourth Pastor

Pastor Jeanne Loveless

May 6, 1914 - Oct 30, 1922

Rev. Francis J. Van Horn was the fourth and sixth pastor for First Congregational Church of Oakland.

Here is his bio.

Rev. Charles Luther Kloss

Pastor Jeanne Loveless

Nov & Dec 1910

Rev. Charles Kloss was pastor for First Congregational Church of Oakland.

Here is his bio.

Rev. Charles R. Brown, Third Pastor

Pastor Jeanne Loveless

Oct 1, 1896 - Oct 25, 1910

The Reverend Charles Reynolds Brown, D. D., served as pastor of the First Congregational Church of Oakland, California from 1896 until 1911, when he became the head of the Yale Divinity School.

In 1883 Dr. Brown received his bachelor's degree from the University of lowa, and in 1889 the degree of A. M. from the same institution. Both Dr. Brown and Oberlin Colleges conferred upon Dr. Brown the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity, and Yale and Wesleyan granted him honorary degrees of A. M. and L. L. D. respectively.

Dr. Brown also served as moderator of the National Council of the Congregational Church from 1913 to 1915.

Acting (Interm) Pastors

Pastor Jeanne LovelessRev. E.S. Wells
Aug 1, 1895 - Oct 31, 1895

Rev. William Rader, Acting Pastor
Nov 1, 1895 - Sep 1, 1896

Rev. S. M. Freeland, Acting Pastor
Sep 1, 1895 - Dec 31, 1895

Rev. E.S. Williams, Acting Pastor
Aug 1, 1895 - Oct 31, 1895

Pastor John Knox McLean, Second Pastor

Pastor Jeanne Loveless

Apr 24, 1872 - Sep 1, 1895

Pastor McLean's page.

From Pastor Brown:

In April 1872, the second pastor of this church arrived in Oakland. John Knox McLean, graduate of Union College and of Princeton Theological Seminary, preacher, pastor, citizen, great hcarted friend and large minded Christian statesman. His first sermon had in it the spirit of willing service and the breadth of outlook characteristic of his entire ministry. It was from the text “So much as in me is I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.”

His pastorate continued for twenty—three years, and notable years they were. The church grew until it had a membership of more than a thousand with a branch at Oak Chapel numbering one hundred more. This splendid structure at Twelfth and Clay Streets where we worship today was reared and was paid for out of the pockets of the generous people. The enlarging church under his leadership related itself in helpful fashion to the religious, the educational, the charitable and the civic interests of this growing city. Its influence and usefulness went out into all the state and caused the hearts of many in all parts of California to rise up and call it blessed.

In April 1895, Dr. McLean resigned the pastorate of this church to become president of the Pacific Theological Seminary. He has continued in that service to this hour with the love and gratitude of a wide and loyal constituency won by his work and his worth during these thirty—eight years he has resided in California.


Pastor Dr. George Mooar, First Pastor

Pastor George Mooar

May 6, 1861 - Apr 24, 1872

Dr. Mooar's page

From Pastor Brown:

The following May the Rev. George Mooar, the first pastor, arrived and entered upon his noble service. He was a graduate of Williams College and of Andover Seminary. In the spirit of missionary devotion he left a church of three hundred and fifty members there in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, to come to this new and strange land to lead this little band who had called him to be their minister. He came before the days of Pullman trains to California; the railroad was not completed until nine years after he started west. He came with his wife and three little children, around by the Isthmus of Panama, and entered in through the Golden Gate to enter upon that service which this community will never forget.

He was a man of noble presence, of genial manner, of strong and sane intellectual life and of deep personal piety. He was an effective preacher, and a pastor greatly beloved. The little church prospered under his ministry and built the house of worship, which stood so long yonder at Tenth and Washington Streets. After eleven years he resigned from this church to become a professor in the Pacific Theological Seminary where he continued an able and helpful instructor in that school of the prophets up to the time of his death. The text of his first sermon was, “There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved,”-it sounded the keynote of his whole life and ministry, intense personal loyalty to Jesus Christ.