Rev. Chineta Goodjoin, the pastor of New Hope Presbyterian Church in Orange on Saturday, December 10, 2016. (Photo by Nick Agro, Orange County Register/SCNG)

 

Read The Full Article Here: OC Register – Most Influential 2016: Rev. Chineta Goodjoin

Most influential 2016: Rev. Chineta Goodjoin motivated by gun tragedy
By DEEPA BHARATH
2016-12-16 22:37:18

A week after a contentious election season ended, the Rev. Chineta Goodjoin led a “prayer and dialog” meeting in the sanctuary of New Hope Presbyterian Church in Orange.

She and her congregants invited all members of the community to this meeting. Christians, Buddhists, Jews and Muslims came.

The question on everyone’s mind that day: How do we heal as a country?

“It became a safe place where all of us could express our feelings during a difficult time,” Goodjoin said. “Not everyone agreed. People understood, however, that reconciling is not surrendering, but hearing each other’s pain and finding a way to move forward – together.”

This is the kind of year it has been for Goodjoin and her congregation. Healing, reconciliation and the fight for social justice propel them as a ministry, she says.

In 2007, Goodjoin was called by the Los Ranchos Presbytery to start an African American congregation in Orange. Today, the 125-strong church is about 40 percent African American.

This is a church with a social justice committee, which – under Goodjoin’s leadership – steers the congregation toward the causes that most affect the community.

In 2016, the church took a deep dive into several issues, most notably gun violence. It started with Lent, when New Hope members attended Ash Wednesday service at St. Mark Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, which is predominantly white.

Instead of ashes, congregants from both churches smeared gun powder on their foreheads during the service to remind themselves of those who have died in acts of violence and to move toward peace. Members of the two congregations also engaged in weekly conversations about gun violence and race relations.