Yvette Flunder

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Yvette Flunder
Yvette Flunder at 2011 SF Pride - 1.jpg
Flunder singing at 2011 San Francisco Pride
ChurchUnited Church of Christ
Ordinationby Walter Hawkins
Personal details
Born (1955-07-29) July 29, 1955 (age 67)
SpouseShirley Miller

Yvette A. Flunder (born July 29, 1955) is an American womanist, preacher, pastor, activist, and singer from San Francisco, CA. She is the senior pastor of the City of Refuge United Church of Christ in Oakland, California and Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries.


Flunder was born in San Francisco, California and raised between the Bay Area and Mississippi. She grew up in the Church of God in Christ (COGIC),[1] graduating from the High School from COGIC's Saints Academy in Lexington, Mississippi before returning to California.[2] In 1984, she began singing and recording with Walter Hawkins and the Love Center Choir,[3] where she was the lead singer.[4] She was later ordained by Hawkins.[5]

Flunder earned an undergraduate degree from College of San Mateo.[2] She then went on to receive a Certificate of Ministry Studies and a Master of Arts in 1997 from the Pacific School of Religion, before earning her Doctor of Ministry degree from the San Francisco Theological Seminary in 2001.[6]

In 2000, she founded the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, a trans-denominational coalition of Christian churches who "desire to celebrate and proclaim the radically inclusive love of Jesus Christ",[7] and was appointed its Presiding Bishop in 2003.[8]

Flunder identifies as a womanist and a reconciling liberation theologian.[9] In 2005, she authored a book, Where the Edge Gathers: Building a Community of Radical Inclusion.[10] Carlton Pearson cites her among the first religious leaders to embrace and encourage him after he was declared a heretic due to coming out in support of universal reconciliation.[11]

In 2013, she was named as a Distinguished Alumna of the Pacific School of Religion.[7] On December 1, 2014, Flunder was a keynote speaker in the White House for World AIDS Day, where she described the harmful effects of stigma and homophobia on those living with HIV and on AIDS education in general.[12] The following year she was a guest speaker at the American Baptist College's Garnett-Nabrit Lecture Series.[13]

Since 2015, Flunder has been a member of the board of trustees of the Starr King School for the Ministry[14] and also served as a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.[15]

Flunder's spouse is Shirley Miller, the cousin of Walter Hawkins; they have been committed partners since the mid-1980s.[16]


Bishop Flunder was raised in the "womb" of the church coming from church founding families in the Bay Area.[17]

From a young age, Flunder's life reflected her beliefs to treat people with value and equality.[17] In 1986, Flunder was moved to minister to people with HIV/AIDS in response to the epidemic of the 1980s.[18] She founded several not-for-profit enterprises in the San Francisco Bay Area, providing services for people affected by HIV: Hazard-Ashley House, Walker House and Restoration House, through the Ark of Refuge, Inc., which later became the Y. A. Flunder Foundation.[19]

In 1991, she founded the City of Refuge under the United Church of Christ, "in order to unite a gospel ministry with a social ministry".[20][21] She describes the City of Refuge UCC as an effort to "create a spiritual community that will embrace our collective cultures, faith paths, gender expressions, and sexual/affectional orientations while simultaneously freeing us from oppressive theologies that subjugate women, denigrate the LGBT community, and disconnect us from justice issues locally and globally".[22] The Transcendence Gospel Choir was a community choir affiliated with the City of Refuge and was the first all-transgender choir in the United States.[23][24]

Flunder's work expands into digital spaces. In 2021 she was a panelist for "Fire and Desire" the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture's Center for the Study of African American Religious Life as they discussed "Black Male Gospel Music Performance."

Film, television and media[edit]

Flunder was portrayed by actress Phylicia Rashad for the final 3-part episode as part of the Dustin Lance Black mini-series When We Rise on March 3, 2017, on the major television network ABC. The Bishop's role in the show highlights the compassion of the church, the commitment of its leadership and the loving home the church provides to minister in the tough, primarily African-American community in San Francisco.[25]

Flunder was also depicted by Joni Bovill[26] in the Joshua Marston drama film Come Sunday, which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and was released on Netflix in April 2018.[27][28]

Flunder is active on many social media platforms using her platforms to consistently advocate for black lives,[29] queer lives,[30] medical accessibility,[31] and destigmatization of HIV+ lives.

In 2021, Flunder was featured in PBS's "The Black Church: This is our story, this is our song."[32]

Published work[edit]

  • Where the Edge Gathers[10]
  • Birthing the Sermon: Women Preachers on the Creative Process[33]
  • Those Preaching Women: A Multicultural Collection[34]
  • Queer Christianities: Lived Religion in Transgressive Forms[35]


  1. ^ Flunder, Yvette (2001). "Yvette Flunder". In Childers, Jana (ed.). Birthing the Sermon: Women Preachers on the Creative Process. Chalice Press. pp. 69–70.
  2. ^ a b "Rev. Dr. Yvette Flunder". National Black Justice Coalition. 29 July 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ Flunder, Yvette (February 28, 2011). "Oral History Interview: Yvette Flunder" (PDF). LGBTRAN: The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Religious Archives Network (Interview). Interviewed by Monique Moultrie. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  4. ^ Koenig, Harold; Weatherford, Carole; Weatherford, Ronald (2013). Somebody's Knocking at Your Door: AIDS and the African-American Church. Routledge. p. 33.
  5. ^ "Yvette Flunder — Profile". www.workingpreacher.org. Working Preacher. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  6. ^ Howard, Rachel, ed. (Winter 2015). "Alumni Updates" (PDF). CHIMES: San Francisco Theological Seminary Newsletter. Vol. 60, no. 2. San Francisco Theological Seminary. p. 27. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  7. ^ a b "The Essence of The Fellowship". www.radicallyinclusive.com. The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  8. ^ "About Bishop Flunder" (PDF). www.cityofrefugeucc.org. City of Refuge United Church of Christ. 2015. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  9. ^ Flunder, Yvette (2001). "Yvette Flunder". In Childers, Jana (ed.). Birthing the Sermon: Women Preachers on the Creative Process. Chalice Press. p. 68.
  10. ^ a b Flunder, Yvette A. (2005). Where the edge gathers : building a community of radical inclusion. Cleveland, Ohio: Pilgrim Press. ISBN 0-8298-1638-0. OCLC 58789371.
  11. ^ Pearson, Carlton (2009). The Gospel of Inclusion: Reaching Beyond Religious Fundamentalism to the True Love of God. Simon and Schuster. pp. 75–76.
  12. ^ Brooks, Douglas (December 11, 2014). "The White House Observes World AIDS Day 2014". whitehouse.gov. Retrieved February 6, 2018 – via National Archives.
  13. ^ "2015 Garnett-Nabritt Lecture Series". www.abcnash.edu. American Baptist College. March 15, 2015. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  14. ^ "Welcome to Rev. Dr. Yvette Flunder". www.sksm.edu. Starr King School for the Ministry. March 16, 2015. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  15. ^ "Members & Staff". Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. January 20, 2017. Archived from the original on February 24, 2017. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  16. ^ "Our Love That Has Lasted 30 Years — Bishop Yvette Flunder and Mother Shirley Miller". One True Story at a Time. September 22, 2014. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  17. ^ a b Moultrie, Monique (February 28, 2011). "Oral History Interview: Yvette Flunder" (PDF). lgbtqrelqgiousarchives.org. Retrieved March 22, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ Wuthnow, Robert (2003). All in Sync: How Music and Art Are Revitalizing American Religion. University of California Press. p. 173.
  19. ^ "Rev. Dr. Yvette A. Flunder". www.sksm.edu. Starr King School for the Ministry. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  20. ^ "New Church Planter Leadership Institute Program Book" (PDF). United Church of Christ. 2007. Retrieved February 6, 2018.NCLI 2007 Program Book - United Church of Christ
  21. ^ Brown, Vanessa. "Our Presiding Bishop". www.radicallyinclusive.com. The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  22. ^ Flunder, Yvette (2014). "Healing Oppression Sickness". In Talvacchia, Kathleen; Larrimore, Mark; Pettinger, Michael (eds.). Queer Christianities: Lived Religion in Transgressive Forms. NYU Press. pp. 116–117.
  23. ^ Marech, Rona (2012-01-28). "SAN FRANCISCO / Singing the gospel of Transcendence / Nation's first all-transgender gospel choir raises its voices to praise God and lift their own feelings of self-love and dignity". SFGate. Retrieved 2020-06-12.
  24. ^ Banks, Adelle M. (2015-03-20). "Black lesbian bishop Yvette Flunder is 'using my energy to find peace'". Religion News Service. Retrieved 2020-06-12.
  25. ^ Ferguson, Latoya (March 3, 2017). "When We Rise finale recap: 'Part IV'". ew.com. One True Story at a Time. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  26. ^ Bovill, Kirk (December 25, 2016). "Joni Bovill Joins Netflix Film "Come Sunday" with Chiwetel Ejiofor". pr.com. Retrieved 2018-04-03.
  27. ^ Debruge, Peter (January 22, 2018). "Sundance Film Review: 'Come Sunday'". Variety. Retrieved 2018-04-03.
  28. ^ Kenny, Glen (December 29, 2017). "A Sneak Preview of 2018 Netflix Films and a Canine Secret Weapon". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018-06-04.
  29. ^ Flunder, Yvette [@bishop_flunder] (April 21, 2021). "Rest well Sir...Your/Our people handled your business! t.co/MbwJjFoqWS" (Tweet). Archived from the original on May 3, 2021. Retrieved June 14, 2021 – via Twitter.
  30. ^ Flunder, Yvette [@bishop_flunder] (March 31, 2021). "Today and every other day, as well! t.co/JEkzGw01aC" (Tweet). Archived from the original on May 22, 2021. Retrieved June 14, 2021 – via Twitter.
  31. ^ Flunder, Yvette [@bishop_flunder] (April 14, 2021). "Testing and vaccinations taking place RIGHT NOW at City of Refuge UCC...8400 Enterprise Way, Oakland CA. t.co/4TG9kH0qWS" (Tweet). Archived from the original on May 8, 2021. Retrieved June 14, 2021 – via Twitter.
  32. ^ "The Black Church: This is our Story, This is our Song". pbs.org.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  33. ^ Birthing the sermon : women preachers on the creative process. Jana Childers. St. Louis, Mo.: Chalice Press. 2001. ISBN 0-8272-0230-X. OCLC 45166610.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  34. ^ Those preachin' women. Ella Pearson Mitchell, Jacqueline B. Glass. Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press. 1985. ISBN 0-8170-1073-4. OCLC 11814064.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  35. ^ Queer Christianities : Lived Religion in Transgressive Forms. Kathleen T. Talvacchia, Michael F. Pettinger, Mark Larrimore. New York. 2014. ISBN 978-1-4798-1912-6. OCLC 894554100.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)

External links[edit]