The Rev. Chris Breedlove has lived in Fresno for a relatively short time. But in the four years since he moved here to take the job of senior pastor at Community United Church of Christ, he’s established himself as a devoted leader to his congregation and a somewhat familiar face to anyone keeping up with local news. Whether standing up to the city officials over their treatment of the homeless, presiding over a gay wedding, or joining with leaders of other faiths in a show of solidarity against prejudice, Breedlove has ensured that social justice remains a focus of his church, carrying on its “cutting-edge” legacy, which began nearly 60 years ago.
Diverse. Progressive. Open. Liberal. These are words often used to describe the United Church of Christ, a national denomination of Christians known for their work on social issues such as civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, and poverty. Breedlove’s own interest in social issues began during his first job as a pastor at an inner-city church. In Fresno, he’s been a champion for the homeless, a supporter of gay marriage and stood with an inter-faith group of religious leaders against racism and violence both local and national. It’s no wonder Breedlove sometimes makes the news.
But the causes the pastor, husband and father is passionate about extend outside of the social justice arena. The environment has been a major focus for Breedlove, who moved his family to Fresno during an historic drought. A leader who emphasizes practicing daily what is preached on Sundays, Breedlove spearheaded an effort to make the grounds around Community UCC more drought-friendly. During the year-long process that began in 2013, the congregation did their research, and put in hours of manual labor, turning the church property into a model of responsible landscaping, to the tune of saving roughly one million gallons of water per year.
In conversation, Breedlove mentions Martin Luther King Jr. often. And when he does, the civil rights leader’s impact on the pastor is palpable. King devoted his life to peace and justice, and Breedlove has similarly devoted himself to the same goals. Here, Breedlove talks about Community UCC’s history in Fresno, what brought him to town, and his passion for working together with people of different faiths.
Worship takes place Sundays at 10:30 a.m. The church is located at 5550 N. Fresno St.