The Dr. Alvin C. Bernstine is a fourth generation Baptist preacher. He was born in Oakland, California, receiving his primary education in the Oakland Public School system. It was seen quite early that Alvin had promise, and was accelerated by skipping the second grade. He went from the kindergarten to the second grade. However his academic promise was frustrated by family struggles and the drama of the Sixties. As a result, he barely completed the requirements for a high school diploma.
After several years as an entrepreneur, he decided to return to school in Sales and Marketing at Laney College, Oakland, CA. In 1977, he responded to God’s call to ministry and radically changed his interests. He transferred to Bishop College, Dallas, Texas, graduating in 1981 at the top of his class, Magna Cum Laude. He continued studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School, of Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee. In 1984, he received the Masters of Divinity Degree, with a concentration on Preaching and Biblical Studies, receiving the distinction of the Florence Conwell Preaching Honor. He furthered his studies as a Dr. Samuel Dewitt Proctor Fellow at the United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio. In 1995 he received the Doctor of Ministry Degree, with his dissertation project focusing on “Preaching that Enhances the African American Family: Homilies on the Jacob Narratives.” In 2011, Dr. Bernstine completed studies and received a graduate degree in Psychology and Counseling.
Dr. Bernstine served as the Director of Family Ministry at the Sunday School Publishing Board from 1991 to 1995. While employed with the Sunday School Publishing Board, he wrote numerous journal articles on Family Ministry related issues, and manuals to assist Christian education. He also submitted for publication, As For Me and My House: Redemptive Words for the Black Family. His most recent publications have been self-published, Ministry in a Disaster Zone: The Seven Cross Sayings of Jesus, A Ministry that Save Lives: Sermons and Reflections on Ministry in A Challenging Context, Orientation for Children Who want To Love Jesus, Give Power to the People: The Congregational Enablement Model Revisited, Church Through the Roof: Re-Storying Your Church’s Ministry and As For Me and My House, Too: Some More Redemptive Words for the African American Family. Last year he released The Evening and The Morning: A Liberation Primer of the Creation Story, and during the COVID19 pandemic released Part 1 of Hope Me, Lord: Prophetic Meditations, releasing Part 2, January 2022.
Dr. Bernstine has been privileged to serve as pastor of three wonderful congregations. He served the Olivet Missionary Baptist Church, Nashville, Tennessee, from 1984 to 1993. While there, he doubled the church’s ministry budget and led the church to purchase and establish the Whiteside-Parks Family Life Center, the first family life center operated by a black church in Nashville.
From 1993 to 2006, he served the Mount Lebanon Baptist Church, Brooklyn, New York. He led the Mount Lebanon Baptist Church in the establishment of relevant ministries, a major building restoration project, and in the year-long celebration of a centuryFrom 1993 to 2006, he served the Mount Lebanon Baptist Church, Brooklyn, New York. He led the Mount Lebanon Baptist Church in the establishment of relevant ministries, a major building restoration project, and in the year-long celebration of a century of Christian service, in 2005.
Dr. Bernstine has been given the tremendous honor to currently serve the Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church, which represents the primary Christian community in which his migrating family was nurtured. His immediate predecessor, Reverend Dr. Abraham Henry Newman, was used by God to spearhead Pastor Bernstine’s educational pursuits at Bishop College. Bethlehem has enthusiastically embraced his vision of “Church Through the Roof!” He is leading the congregation in developing relevant ministries that impact families in congregation and community: Brothers of Bethlehem, Sisters of Bethlehem, Youth of Bethlehem, Griefshares, Foster Kinship/Parent Training, Celebrate Recovery/Cocaine Anonymous, and one of the most amazing Church School experiences, Christian Empowerment Hour.
He is the founder and instructor of The School of Prophets, a ministry to enhance effective preaching; Visiting Professor of Preaching at American Baptist Seminary of the Wes (renamed Berkley School of Theology), Faculty Member of Leadership Institute of Allen Temple Baptist Church; the Dean of the Bay Area Academy of Responsible Preaching; Past Moderator of Progressive Baptist Missionary Educational District Association, Clergy Coordinator for CCISCO and Richmond’s Ceasefire/Lifelines to Healing, an anti-gun violence initiative to save the lives of young African American men. He has been a member of the Brotherhood of Elders, a mentoring cohort for at-risk youth, and served a term as a Board Member of Greater Richmond Improvement Programs. A special space for service is Faculty Facilitator for the Foster Kinship Care Program of Contra Costa County College, specializing in Trauma-Informed Care. For the past five years he has served as Dean for the Richmond Baptist Minister’s Conference, providing relevant preaching skills to Richmond ministers.
In 2011 Dr. Bernstine was honored twice with citations bearing the name of Martin Luther King, Jr. – the City of Richmond cited him with the MLK, Jr., Civic Award, and Morehouse College, Atlanta, inducted him into the Martin Luther King, Jr. International Board of Preachers. In 2013, he was privileged to facilitate the workshop, Preaching for Prophetic Action, at the Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference in Dallas, Texas.
Pastor Bernstine attended the White House National African American Pastors Convening for Pastors and the White House Working Together for the Common Good on Friday, March 23, 2012. He joined President Obama, Senior White House and Obama Administration officials for a day-long briefing on how the Obama Administration is impacting issues of concern within the African American community, and how to partner with the Obama Administration in moving forward. He has had the tremendous opportunity to participate in the Million Man March and be in attendance for both Inaugurals of President Barak Obama.
As a preacher he continues to receive invitations to preach in some of the nation’s most celebrated pulpits, recently preached at the imminent Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia, Friendship Baptist Church, Charlotte, North Carolina, and featured preacher for the Pastor’s Division of the National Baptist Congress. He is a staff instructor of the Pastor’s and Minister’s Division of the National Baptist Congress of Christian Education, National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., teaching Introduction to Hermeneutics.
On August 1, 2020, he married the Reverend Diana Becton, the first woman and first African American to serve as District Attorney of Contra Costa County. Their blended family includes four sons, two daughters, and six grandchildren.
Dr. Bernstine is an avid swimmer, budding golf player, and still finds time to enjoy life through travel, family, chess playing, and spending time with grandchildren. His favorite pastime is reading.