Our Story

We’re a church planted in beautiful Oakland, California that has members from all over the San Francisco Bay Area, including Berkeley, Emeryville, San Francisco and beyond.   We believe that Convergence is the picture of God’s Kingdom converging with our lives, changing us to change the world.  But there’s so much more to why we’re here and how it all began.

Beginnings

Our History (Told by Pastor Bobby Lee)

Convergence… God’s Kingdom needs to converge with ours.

Convergence… Diverse, broken, imperfect people converging in the name of our perfect Savior, Jesus Christ.

I never really wanted to plant a church. I didn’t have a heart for the city, or any other urban area for that matter.  I do, however, have a deep desire to follow and worship Jesus.  So, it wasn’t an easy decision to move to Oakland, CA and plant Convergence.  But I felt a deep sense of call.

In my transition to Oakland, I didn’t want to bring anyone from my former church because I felt like God was wanting to do something new, both in me and through me.  Upon listening to some wise counsel, however, I asked a handful of friends if they wanted to move to Oakland, intentionally get to know their neighbors, and commit at least 3 years to plant this church no matter what happened.  Two people(Kevin Hu and Uyanga Jigjidsuren) responded to the call and moved out to Oakland with us… and Convergence was born. Sort of…

2008

For the first few months, I was just getting to know my community and the city as a whole.  I visited churches and community organizations and talked with pretty much whoever would talk to me.  I got to be an interim pastor for an African-American church (BACC) in downtown for a month, got to speak at a 5th grade promotion ceremony at an East Oakland public school, and met a lot of interesting people.  But I still didn’t have anyone other than my family, Kevin, and Uyanga to start Convergence.  It would be a great understatement to say I was discouraged.  I questioned, doubted, and shed tears wondering if I heard God right by uprooting my family and moving to Oakland.

In a matter of a week, I met all of the founding members of Convergence: Terry Lee, Kevin Hu, Rebecca Craft (Now Rebecca Hu:)), Joe Nuni, Stephen Mew, Uyanga Jigjidsuren, and Tiffany Cheng-Nyaggah.  We met in our living room on a Monday night to pray and dream of what Convergence would and could be. I still remember Rebecca’s question that kick-started the launch of our church, “So, what do we do on Sunday?”  My strategic church-planter response was, “Oh, we’re not ready for Sunday yet.”  Her prophetic word of truth, “Ready for what?”

Six days later, we had our first Sunday service.  We met at a church in downtown (BACC) that let us use their facility for free at night. Someone printed a bulletin, another person brought communion elements, another person made a shoebox with a cut out on top for the offering, another person brought cookies, and I led worship and preached.  I’ll never forget this night. I’ll never forget my brothers and sisters who gave their lives and are still giving their lives to the vision and mission of Convergence.

I would love to say that Convergence “took off” or “boomed” as a church after this initial service, but I can’t, because it didn’t.  We just kept meeting on Wednesday’s for Bible study and Sundays for worship service.  After a year, we had about 10-12 people as the core group of our church.  Our Sunday congregation was mostly homeless people who joined us for service and dinner.  It was a season of learning.  It was a season of humbling ourselves and realizing that every person matters to God.  The message that was clear during this year was, “embrace and enjoy every moment of this journey and don’t think you have to get somewhere or be something else to do so.”

2009

We wanted to move away from the traditional church setting so we moved to a community center in downtown Oakland called Preservation Park.  In this move, the entire homeless community that was joining us on Sunday nights stopped coming.  We learned that three blocks is like miles for people living on the streets.  It felt like we were taking a few steps backwards in our journey.

We were at Preservation Park for about a year.  During this time, however, one of our members talked about having a picnic.  He described the food, the park, and even a softball game.  When we realized that we didn’t have enough members to play softball, we thought we’d invite people to a picnic.  We ended up calling this day simply, “A Day in the Park.”  And, we ended up inviting about 1,400 people via fliering all over Oakland.  We knew that we couldn’t serve everyone if everyone came so we simultaneously asked people if they wanted to “serve their community” that day if they came.  About 400 people came out that day!  It was a blast!  I would describe it as the craziest church picnic I’ve ever been to.  Since then, Day in the Park has become an annual event where we use the park (DeFremery Park to be exact) for what it’s supposed to be used for: fun for kids of all ages!  This act is not one of evangelism, but one of restoration.  We are reclaiming the park for its intended and good purpose.

After a year, one of our leaders realized that DeFremery Park has a community center on-site and that it was available on Sunday mornings.  About two months later, we were moving into our new and current sanctuary: DeFremery Park Community Center!

Our first Life Groups launched in 2009 with a one word vision of Holiness.  We gathered to experience community, study the Bible, and pray with the knowledge and purpose that all of these exercises move us towards holiness.

2010 – 2012

Our move to DeFremery Park Community Center changed so much for us a church.  This transition birthed ministries such as Family Night (a ministry where families can have time as families with other families) and partnerships with organizations such as DeFremery Park Community Center (Partnering for Family Night) and What Now America (Mentoring and Tutoring on Saturdays).  Moving into West Oakland also gave us a community to serve and to be a part of.  Members began to relocate into West Oakland, residents who were living in West Oakland have become part of the church, and new ministries to serve the community birthed (Reading Clinic Tutoring and Library Coordination at MLK, Jr Elementary School).  Our KidsTown Ministry also officially launched in 2011 teaching the Bible and Gospel to the next generation.

Our church has grown and shrunken in these years.  We have been going through a learning curve of what it means to be a diverse church where everyone at some point will experience a point of dissatisfaction.  We are learning what it means to be a persevering faith community that is anchored in the community for the long haul.

Two key moments in our church’s organizational formation were the selection of our inaugural Elder Team in 2011 (Min Tak, Jeff Chou, Joe Nuni, and Kevin Hu) and our church’s official acceptance into the Evangelical Covenant Church as a “member church” in 2012.  This marked the beginning of group leadership (Elder Team) and transitioned us from being a church plant to recognized member church which allows us to officially vote and influence the future of our denomination.

2013

If you’re reading this now and are joining Convergence in this Kingdom journey, then you are now a part of shaping our present and our future.  Just by participating, (you with us), we are now changed, we are now all seeing a greater picture of God and His Kingdom.  Welcome to the story that is “Convergence.”