As an educator, teacher, preacher, and leader, the Rev. Dr. Brenda Guess has served the Bay Area for a long and productive time. She is the fourth of five children of her parents, the late Willie Roy and Deaconess Addie Woods, and was born and raised in Oakland.
A guiding scripture for her, Psalm 34:1, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth,” was beautifully expressed in her Thanksgiving sermon on Nov. 22. The service, filled with praise in song, prayer, and her joy-filled sermon, demonstrated the deep spiritual leadership Dr. Guess brings to all she does.
Dr. Guess accepted her call to ministry after earning a formidable education, and was licensed and later ordained by Dr. J. Alfred Smith, Sr., at Allen Temple. She is a public administration graduate of the University of San Francisco, has a Master of Arts degree in Biblical Studies from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, and holds a doctorate in Higher Education from Nova Southeastern University in Florida.
Dr. Guess has served as Allen Temple’s Children’s Minister, choir director of the Children’s and Sanctuary Choirs, and Dean of the Leadership Institute. She also served as Executive Pastor of the Bay Area Christian Connection and Assistant Minister at Liberty Hill Missionary Baptist Church.
Recently retired from Alameda County, ending her 39-year career as the first African-American woman to serve as Chief Deputy Tax Collector, Dr. Guess returned to the Leadership Institute to become the first female Chancellor. The Leadership Institute jointly awards the Certificate in Ministry with American Baptist Seminary of the West, a charter member of the Graduate Theological Union.
Committed to the mission of the Leadership Institute, “to focus on educating men and women for responsible Christian leadership in the church and society,” Dr. Guess teaches and preaches the Word of God not only in her role as Chancellor, but also conducts workshops and seminars.
Dr. Guess is the mother of two children, grandmother of six, and great-grandmother of one. She lives her life with the vision “to be of good courage and continue service for the Lord.”