Pastor Shirley Holloway and Family

Listen to Pastor Shirley’s interview!

Pastor Shirley Holloway moved to Oakland in 1970 when she was 19-years-old. She has spent most of the time since then in East Oakland as a mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, and now as a great-grandmother. Reminiscing about the Oakland of the 1970s and 1980s, Pastor Shirley talks about how she loves the variety Oakland offers, especially the ethnic diversity, and she appreciates that there is still diversity in her neighborhood today.

Pastor Shirley’s father, who passed away in 2004, was a deacon in the church. He often said to her that “the truth will set you free,” and the strong values he instilled in her, she passed down to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Ten years after her father died, she became a leader in the church, too. In 2014, Pastor Shirley became a pastor of a church in East Oakland located at 75th Avenue and Rudsdale. Her commitment to the church—which she calls her home—and serving family and others are her biggest priorities. One of her future plans is to open a food pantry.

Pastor Shirley remembers a day when she met a stranger and asked her, “Ma’am can I give you a hug?” to which the woman replied, “Oh, I’d love that so much!” It occurred to Pastor Shirley that that might be the only hug that woman would get today. Reaching out to people in small ways like this—in an out of her church—is an important part of her life in Oakland.