Can you sum up GNC in 2 sentences? Originally formed in 1892 as North Congregational Church, GNC continues to minister to the North Berkeley community informally known as the Gourmet Ghetto. Emphasizing Christian mysticism and contemplative practice, GNC offers an eclectic and appealing blend of traditional liturgical worship, informal friendly fellowship, folk music, and progressive teaching with an interfaith twist.

Who is welcome? We welcome everyone Jesus would—which means absolutely everyone. As we’re fond of saying, “No matter who you are, no matter where you come from, no matter who you love, no matter what you believe or what you don’t believe, you are welcome to dine at Jesus’ table, and to be as much a part of us as you would like to be.” And just to be absolutely clear, we are an GLBT-friendly congregation. Everyone is welcome.

What do you teach? Our teaching is grounded in a critical reading of Christian and Jewish scripture—which means we respect it, but we often talk back to it and argue with it. We orient our journey together around the Christian mystical tradition, honoring the wisdom and insights of such mystics as Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich, and Meister Eckhart. We teach that all religious traditions are valuable and instructive to our souls, and we seek to learn all we can from the traditions, scriptures, and practices of all the great world traditions, and some lesser-known ones as well.

How is leadership understood? Grace North Church governs its affairs in a consensus manner, bringing all major decisions to regular parish meetings. Any member of the parish over 13 years old may vote in congregational matters. Our elected Board of Trustees meets the second Sunday of most months after liturgy, and anyone may attend the meetings. Our pastor may voice his opinion, but has no vote in any parish matters.

What is your denominational affiliation? We are dually affiliated with the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches and the United Church of Christ. Our parish is also affiliated with the Center for Progressive Christianity. Community members are free to affiliate with as many denominations or religious traditions as they feel called to.

How can I join? Just show up! If you wanted to be listed on our roster, simply send an email stating your desire to join, or alert our clergy and supply them with current contact information. Members have full voting rights in all aspects of our community. Though no financial commitment is required, each member will be offered a chance annually to estimate their donations for the coming year.

Do you have a statement of faith? No. We are not united by common belief, but by what we promise to do together. Instead of a creed, we have a parish covenant that goes all the way back to 1892: “We are united in striving to know the will of God, and our purpose is to walk in the ways of the Lord, laboring for the progress of knowledge and justice, the reign of peace and universal friendship; depending as did our ancestors upon the continued guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth.”

How can I find out more? Feel free to contact our pastor if you have more questions about our community. He is eager to speak with you and help in any way he can (we also have women ministers and clergy associated with the parish, and we can refer you to them). You can leave a message for Fr. John at 510-548-2153, or email him at apocryphile@me.com. In case of emergency, call him on his cell phone at: 510-290-4349.