Forum with youth in community

In light of recent suicides and need for youth to be supported….Plan to attend a Forum with Youth in our community, to discuss: Social academic pressure,   Inclusion and friendship, Dealing with stress, Grieving and dealing with loss, Defeating stigma.

Friday, March 27, 6:00 PM, Mitchell Park Community Center, 3700 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto.

For more information, contact Dona Smith-Powers donamaysp@sbcglobal.net.

Naomi’s Corner

schultz2.fwDear Friends at First Baptist Church Palo Alto,

Many of you now know that I will be leaving your service as a “Minister-in- Training” at the end of January. It has been a genuine delight and privilege to serve with you, and I am sad to leave you. I have been deeply happy while participating in the life of your community, and it is primarily my health that leads me to step away from continuing at FBC this spring. In conversation with Rick, Tripp, and other mentors at seminary, I discerned that I wish to cut back on some commitments, do some necessary self-care in managing a chronic illness, and focus on studying and fulfilling my ordination requirements with the United Church of Christ. But I will miss you for you are, and have been, a deeply fun crew to work with. You have been patient with my growing edges, supportive of new things I wanted to try for the first time, and affirming of my presence with you. I learned much from you, and I am deeply grateful for your hospitality and care over the past 8 months.

Before I go, I would like to lift up that I experience your community as one that is rich in commitment, caring, engagement, and exploration. You are a community that shows up for each other every Sunday – one where lifelong friendships are nurtured and new relationships are forged. In Adult Education I have admired the depth of engagement you bring to discerning how to live out Christian values with integrity in a often cynical and fragmented world. I have also witnessed you take risks and try new things in your journey of discerning your future as a church together, and the yearning for an ever more flourishing and growing community that you carry. I admire your hopes and dreams for the future, but I also want to acknowledge the enormous amount of vibrancy and life that the First Baptist Church community already exudes. It shows in your commitment to working together through conflict, in contemplating and navigating the complex paths of renewal, and in creating space for something new to emerge despite setbacks and uncertainty. I hope and pray that all the great work you are already doing continues, and that it bears the fruit you imagine to be possible.

Speaking of possibility, Emily Dickinson once wrote :

I dwell in Possibility –
A fairer House than Prose –
More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –
Of Chambers as the Cedars –
Impregnable of eye –
And for an everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky –
Of Visitors – the fairest –
For Occupation – This –
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise –

It feels to me that FBC is, indeed, dwelling in possibility and gathering the elements of paradise in the process: a paradise of strong relationship, commitment, and vision that lives fully in the now while looking to the future. I look forward to hearing what unfolds in your lives and as a community. May the light of Christ guide your discerning, affirm your care and effort, and fulfill your aspirations.

Deep peace and many blessings,
Naomi Schulz
FBC Seminary Intern

It takes the village to be the village

candleringOne of my pet peeves is people not leaving a space the way they found it. It doesn’t irritate me enough to lose sleep, still… That can be a problem when you work in a place like FBCPA with a large variety of members, renters and visitors. You want to be a good host and neighbor to everyone who uses the space. Because we only have custodial service a couple of times a week, we try to stress this principle with everyone who spends time here – please leave the space the way you found it, so that others can make use of it and enjoy it after you. It’s a good principle to practice in any space in which a community gathers, in any space that’s shared among multiple groups and activities. In a large sense we want people to work together to make it a good environment for all of us. It’s akin to that old adage that “It takes a village…”

That is, it takes the village to be the village. It takes all of us pulling together to be a community. This is true for everyone who gathers in this space, but it’s especially true for those of us who claim to be FBCPA. It takes every one of us, young and old, to create this unique and wonderful church community. And it’s not just the space and how we maintain it that is the source of our communal spirit. It’s how we work together and play together, worship together and care together, learn together and share together across the board that makes this a good place to be.

In particular, we have been graced by some wonderful leadership over the years, both lay and professional. But no one of us or even one small group of us can do it all for the rest of us. I am beyond grateful for those who have led us in the seven years I have been pastor. Some of those folk have held their positions for the entire time I’ve been here and some even longer. That is dedication, folks! But more than that, I can’t help but feel that these leaders love this place and this community with a deep and lasting love. Born of that love, they have taken on a very special commitment to seeing that we continue and, beyond that, that we thrive.

What I am wondering is if there are some others of us who might consider taking on more of a leadership role with the congregation. Remember, it takes all of us pulling together to be us. I know there are people concerned about what will happen when any one of our leadership group is no longer able to take on their task or just plain needs a break. Through the gift of God’s amazing grace so far people have come forward when needed to make sure that all the essentials and many of the extras of our congregational life have been cared for. Is there something more or something different you might contribute to our ongoing life, to enrich and carry forward our life together?

There has been some discussion of doing another “Time and Talent Survey” as part of our stewardship emphasis this Fall. It would be good to know that there are folk willing to take on what is needed to keep us keeping on for the foreseeable future. Elsewhere in this Spire I know that our intern, Naomi, has made a suggestion about cultivating a Worship Team. We would always be grateful for more Worship leaders, readers, choir members and others who would help plan and share in worship. We could use more folk to help with chores and projects around the building. We could use more people involved
in our educational offerings for children, youth and adults. We could use some more folk to help with hospitality and décor. We could use more assistance with congregational care. We could use more help managing our finances.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining about or chiding anyone in our congregation. I am well aware that you give generously of your resources – financial, time and talent ‐ for the good of the community and I am truly grateful for all that you give in whatever way. However, as we consider renewal, we are in constant conversation about how we can sustain and build on this wonderful community as we move into God’s future. God needs all of us to be FBCPA. So I invite you to consider carefully and prayerfully whether or not there is something more or something different or something new you might give to our life together. Remember, it takes all of us to keep the space nice and usable, yes – but more importantly to be us – a church whose mission is to worship God, to explore faith and commitment to Christ, to serve those in need, to provide a home for heart, soul and mind – together in the name of the One who binds our community in love.

Thanks be to God for each and every one of you and thanks to you for considering this with me.
Pastor Rick