Old South Church presented its Open Door Award to Bishop Yvette A. Flunder, founder and pastor of City of Refuge United Church of Christ (UCC) in Oakland, Calif., and Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, during a virtual ceremony on Sunday, June 13.
Bishop Flunder was honored during LGBTQIA+ Pride Sunday Worship for her decades-long history of fierce advocacy for LGBTQ inclusion in the church, according to a press release from Old South Church.
Among their many victories on behalf of the LGBTQ community, Bishop Flunder and her staff opened Hazard-Ashley House and Walker House in Oakland and Restoration House in San Francisco through the Ark of Refuge, Inc., a non-profit agency which provides housing, direct services, education and training for persons affected by HIV/AIDS in the Bay Area, throughout the U.S. and in three countries in Africa.
Bishop Flunder is a Trustee and Adjunct Professor at Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley California. She is a board member of the National Sexuality Resource Center, and she is an active voice for the Religion Council of the Human Rights Campaign. She also serves on the UCC’s Justice and Witness Board of Directors.
Old South Church created the Open Door Award in 2014. Carved in stone above the Portico to Old South’s 1875 National Historic Landmark building are these words from the Book of Revelation: “Behold, I Have Set Before Thee An Open Door. They take these words to mean that in God’s name, it is their duty and privilege to pry open doors shut against any persons and to keep oiling the hinges of any doors rusting shut.”
Former State Rep. Byron Rushing, the recipient of last year’s Open Door Award, told the Sun upon receiving the accolade: “It’s always good to receive an award based on what you’ve done, and it’s always good to receive an award from an institution like Old South Church, which is one of the great progressive churches in New England and probably the country, and has such a positive reputation.”
Besides Rushing, other previous Open Door Award recipients have included Larry Kressel of the Boston Living Center; included Boston Globe Metro Columnist Adrian Walker; Callie Crossley, pioneering broadcast journalist and host of “Under the Radar with Callie Crossley” on WGBH; Sarah-Ann Shaw, Boston’s first African-American female TV reporter; and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, among others.