Special Offering April 2015: ABSW

American Baptist Seminary of the WestThe American Baptist Seminary of the West (ABSW) was founded in 1871 and is the center of American Baptist ecumenical theological education in the far western United States. ABSW is a charter member of the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) since 1962. The seminary is affiliated denominationally with ABC USA and the Progressive National Baptist Convention, and admits students from a variety of  denominational traditions. ABSW is described on Twitter as Multi-Cultural, Multi-Ethnic, Evangelical, and Ecumenical.

Hobart Hall: ABSWHobart Hall, the heart of ABSW’s campus, is a four-story brick Tudor Revival building and was designed by one of California’s most famous architects, Julia Morgan. Dedicated in 1921, ABSW is a California state landmark.

ABSW offers its students resources through the Graduate Theological Union (GTU), the largest partnership of seminaries and graduate schools in the United States. ABSW students may take classes at 9 other GTU seminaries, and have access to one of the finest theological libraries in the world, a faculty of distinguished scholars, and the resources of UC Berkeley. Through the GTU, students can pursue ABSW degrees as well as Ph.D., Th.D., and M.A., and two joint Ph.D. programs with UC Berkeley.

Paul M. Martin is President/CEO and Professor of Pastoral Theology and Michelle Holmes is Vice President/CFO . Many of us remember LeAnn Snow Flesher, Academic Dean and Old Testament Professor, from her visits to FBCPA. We all remember Tripp Hudgins, now Director of Admissions.
Our church has had many connections with ABSW: Our Minister for Children, Youth & Families, Doug Davidson, is a student at ABSW and his wife, Jennifer Davidson, is Assistant Professor of Worship and Theology. Our pastor is a graduate of ABSW, as are Dona Smith Powers and Lynn Hunwick.

The 144th ABSW commencement ceremony will take place on May 16, 2015, 2:00 PM, at Beth Eden Baptist Church in Oakland. The speaker is Bishop Warner Brown Jr., Bishop of the California-Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. At last year’s ABSW Commencement, Congresswoman Barbara Lee was conferred an honorary Doctorate of Laws.

Our goal of $750 for the April Mission Offering for scholarships will be matched by the ABC Home Mission Society. We encourage you to give generously to continue FBCPA’s longstanding history of support to students at ABSW.

Marilyn and Lynn Hunwick

This Week at First Baptist (1/21/15)

CalendarThis Week at First Baptist

  • NO CHOIR PRACTICE this week
  • Thursday, January 22, 10:00 am: Women’s Brunch at Corner Bakery Café, 3375 El Camino Real, Palo Alto. All women of our church community are invited. Please join us.
  • Thursday, January 22, 7:30 PM: Church Choir in the Parlor. New voices are always welcome.
  • Sunday, January 25, 10:00 AM:
    Worship for the whole family

    “Alive in the Adventure of Jesus: Significant and Wonderful,” Jennifer Davidson preaching.
    11:30 AM:Adult Spiritual Formation
    Jennifer Davidson shares about the Black Lives Matter movement
  • Tuesday, January 27, Bible Study at the Terraces of Los Altos

LOOKING AHEAD:

This Week at First Baptist (1/14/15)

CalendarThis Week at First Baptist

  • NO CHOIR PRACTICE this week
  • Thursday, January 15, 5:00 PM: Church Council in the Parlor
  • Thursday, January 15, 7:30 P.M.: Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Film Screening, Fellowship Hall – in commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 86th Birthday, a special screening of Freedom Summer (2014, Stanley Nelson). Sponsored by Peninsula Peace and Justice Center.
  • Sunday, January 18, 10:00 AM: Worship for the whole family
    “Alive in the Adventure of Jesus: Join the Adventure,” Jennifer Davidson preaching.
    11:30 AM:Adult Spiritual Formation Doug Davidson leads a study of John Shelby Spong’s The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic
    12:30 PM: Finance Committee
    in the Parlor
  • Sunday, January 18, 3:00 PM: Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration First Methodist Church, 625 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto
  • Monday, January 19: Last Day for Spire articles for February issue
  • Tuesday, January 20, Bible Study at the Terraces of Los Altos

LOOKING AHEAD

  • Wednesday, January 21, 8:30 AM: Men’s Breakfast at Palo Alto Breakfast House, 2706 Middlefield, Palo Alto. All the men from our Church family are welcome.

This Week at First Baptist (1/7/15)

CalendarThis Week at First Baptist

  • Thursday, January 8, 7:30 pm: Choir Practice in the Parlor Come along and sing a song (or 2). We’d love to have you join us in making music
  • Friday, January 9, 2:00 pm: Congregational Life Task Team in the Parlor
  • Sunday, January 11,10:00 AM: Worship for the whole family
    “Alive in the Adventure of Jesus: Jesus Coming of Age,” Jennifer Davidson preaching.
    11:30 AM:Adult Spiritual Formation Doug Davidson leads a study of John Shelby Spong’s The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic
    12:30 PM: Finance Committee
    in the Parlor.
  • Tuesday, January 13, Bible Study.

LOOKING AHEAD

  • Thursday, January 15, 5:00 PM: Church Council in the Parlor
  • Sunday, January 18, 3:00 PM: Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration First Methodist Church, 625 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto

Worship at FBCPA in January 2015

  • Worship TableJanuary 4 Celebration of the Epiphany
    10:00 am Worship and Sunday School, “Alive in the Adventure of Jesus: Sharing Gifts,”
    Rick Mixon preaching
    11:30 am Adult spiritual formation, Dona Smith-Powers reports on conference on Palestine
  • January 11 First Sunday after Epiphany
    10:00 am Worship and Sunday School, “Alive in the Adventure of Jesus: Jesus Coming of Age,” Jennifer Davidson preaching
    11:30 am Adult spiritual formation, Doug Davidson leads a study of John Shelby Spong’s The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic
  • January 18 Second Sunday after Epiphany
    10:00 am Worship and Sunday School, “Alive in the Adventure of Jesus: Join the Adventure!” Jennifer Davidson preaching
    11:30 am Adult spiritual formation, Part 2 of our study of John Shelby Spong’s The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic
  • January 25 Third Sunday after Epiphany
    10:00 am Worship and Sunday School, “Alive in the Adventure of Jesus: Significant and Wonderful” Jennifer Davidson preaching
    11:30 am Adult spiritual formation, Jennifer Davidson shares about the Black Lives Matter movement

Happy New Year!

Doug DavidsonThe turning of the calendar presents a wonderful opportunity to assess where we are, and where we’d like to be. What better time is there to think about what is most important to us, and to consider how we might devote our time and attention to those things? What might we do to root ourselves more deeply in God’s love, so that this love might flow through us more fully? At their best, I think New Year’s resolutions are all about asking those kinds of questions, and then seeking to find small and large ways to put our answers into practice.

If you’re wondering how you might do that, could I suggest that you join in our Adult Spiritual Formation after worship each Sunday? We have an excellent line up this month. On January 4, Dona Smith‐Powers will be leading a conversation about her experience at a recent conference on Palestine. On the next two Sundays, I will be leading a study of John Shelby Spong’s fascinating book on the Gospel of John: The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic. I had an opportunity to take a week‐long intensive course with Bishop Spong this summer, and I think you’ll be intrigued and inspired by his take on this unique Gospel. (The book is a great read, too. We’ll order a few copies for the church, but I’d encourage you to purchase your own copy.) And then on the final Sunday of the month, Dr. Jennifer Davidson will be leading a conversation about her recent experiences with the Black Lives Matter movement as it seeks to challenge racism within the police and criminal justice system.

Speaking of Dr. Davidson, I am delighted to say that we’ll have her as our guest preacher for three consecutive Sundays this month while pastor Rick is away on study leave. Jennifer Davidson is the associate professor of worship and theology at American Baptist Seminary of the West. She is a gifted preacher whom you will not want to miss—and I would say that even if we weren’t married! I am delighted to have the opportunity to share the worship leadership with Jennifer during the three Sundays while Pastor Rick is away this month.

I’m also pleased to announce that our January mission offering will be going to a special project selected by our youth. In partnership with ABCUSA and Baptist churches in Burundi, our offering will support efforts to promote free‐range chicken farming among families living in one of the poorest areas of that African nation. You can read more about that effort elsewhere in the Spire, and you’ll be hearing more about it each Sunday during January.

May we all open ourselves to fresh experiences of God in our midst in this New Year. Blessings to you for 2015!

Doug Davidson,
Minister with Children, Youth, and Families

June is bustin’ out all over

13-06-01.mixon.fw“June is bustin’ out all over.” In the midst of a heat wave, windows are open to catch any little breeze, everything is green and blooming, allergies are operating full throttle, and we’ve entered, post Pentecost, that long, lazy season in the liturgical life of the church called Ordinary Time. Ordinary though it may be, we still have some excitement on the horizon. The first Sunday of this month we will be privileged by the presence of Cathleen Falsani, sharing with us some mutual experiences of grace. “Story = Grace” is our theme. This is the culmination of a month‐long study of her excellent book, Sin Boldly: A Field Guide to Grace. I commend it you as ideal summer reading. One of the key things Cathleen says in her book is this: “Justice is getting what you deserve. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. And grace is getting what you absolutely don’t deserve. Benign goodwill. Unprovoked compassion. The unearnable gift.”

“Amazing grace! How sweet the sound…” Indeed, it is a sweet sound, sometimes a sound too sweet for our very pragmatic understanding. We all know that salvation can’t be earned but do we really believe it? Do we grasp how thoroughly God loves and accepts us with whatever our limitations and failures? It’s often a struggle to let grace enfold us, to feel its warmth, to bask in its light, to let its healing wash over us, making us whole. So we fail to see that amazing grace is around and within us in the simplest beauties and wonders of daily life – the tree, the flower, the breeze that blows, the stream that flows, the warm smile, the helping hand, the love that forms and sustains friendship and builds community.

Later this month, I will represent us at the inaugural session of a new phase in American Baptist life. The biennial meeting will no longer be a business meeting for the denomination. It is now called a Mission Summit and is designed to inspire
and build up the missional life of the ABC‐USA. This is an interesting experiment in a way to do church at a denominational level that will enable all American Baptists to work together in the service of God. I am very pleased
that Don Ng, the distinguished pastor of First Chinese Baptist Church in San Francisco, is the nominee for President of the ABC‐USA and is taking a key leadership role in this effort at denominational transformation. Don is an old friend whose vision and judgment I trust deeply.

It is interesting that this Mission Summit (and the next, in 2015) will be held in Overland Park, Kansas, a place where I lived from 1950 to 1953. Some of my earliest memories are of those days when my father was the founding pastor of Prairie Baptist Church in Prairie Village, Kansas. So, this represents a kind of homecoming for me. I hope to attend that church on Sunday morning of the Biennial. In addition, I will attend the pre‐biennial theology conference at Central Baptist Seminary (the school from which my father earned 3 degrees,) led by our friend, Jennifer Davidson, from ABSW. Then I will stay for the board meetings of the Association of Welcoming Baptists. It will be a full and, I trust, rich week. Wally Bryen will preach on June 23 in my absence.

What else can we say about June? There will be an intergenerational cookout and time for volleyball and visiting on Friday, June 14, in honor of Father’s Day. The church choir will end its season on June 16. Adult Spiritual Formation for
June will include our Sunday with Cathleen Falsani; a follow‐up on our Sunday with her and our study of her book on June 9; some reflection on The Awakened Heart: Opening Yourself to the Love You Need by Gerald May, one of the books from my spiritual direction program; and a last go for the season at “The Newspaper in One Hand…an occasional discussion of what’s happening in the world in light of the gospel.”

And there will be singing. Jan reminds us that The Bay Choral Guild, the group with which she sings will be performing in our sanctuary on Sunday, June 9 at 4:30 PM. The concert is entitled “Our American Heritageʺ and will feature music
from colonial days to the present. You won’t want to miss the wonderful opportunity right here in our building. And if you’re feeling a little more adventuresome, The Choral Project, the group in which Dan Cudworth, Ruth Winter (who is helping us out in the church choir through June) and I all sing will be presenting concerts in Santa Clara and Santa Cruz on June 8 and 9. Our concerts, entitled “Earthsongs” will cover a cross section of music from the classical to world music to pop music. It will be a fun event as well. More detailed information is available for both groups is available elsewhere in the  June Spire.

Which brings us back to grace. For me there is no more open door to grace than in the experience of music – heard and performed. I thank God for all the amazing music that has graced my life and, I hope, yours as well. May our lives flow on in endless song and may the God of grace author the music of all our days.

Pastor Rick

Pastor Rick: November 14

First Baptist Church of Palo AltoSunday is our annual Stewardship Sunday.  I trust that we all have been thoughtfully and prayerfully considering what we can give to the church next in year – in terms of time, talent and treasure.  A pledge of income is especially valuable as it allows the Finance Committee and Council to plan more accurately for the year ahead.  Thanks to Laura Garcia who has once again chaired our stewardship campaign and to the Finance Committee, chaired by Jane Chin, that has worked on our 2013 budget.  Sunday will be a celebration as we bring our pledges, our gifts and our offerings for Ecumenical Hunger Program to the table in one joyous processional.  The items of food and clothing needed by EHP are listed below.  Please be generous and give from the heart.

Friday night is our gratitude potluck for the whole family.  Pastor Tripp and I have planned some fun and creative ways for us all to say “thank you” for the many ways we are blessed.  I encourage you to join us around the tables in the Fellowship Hall as an act of building up our community.

Next Sunday, November 25, we will honor “Christ, the King” in worship and then remain afterwards to “Hang the Greens.”  This is an opportunity for all of us to gather again in community to make our building beautiful for the Advent/Christmas season.  There will be things to do for folk of all ages and at the end we will share a simple soup lunch.  If anyone would be willing to make a pot of soup to serve 10 or so, that would be much appreciated.  Just let me know.

As a follow up to our worship study with Jennifer Davidson, we are inviting anyone and everyone who would like to contribute to worship planning for Sunday, December 9 to stay for the Spiritual Formation time after worship on Sunday.   We will work the text from Luke 1:68-79 (“Zechariah’s Song”) that we worked with Jennifer.  This is your chance to shape worship in ways that reflect your own spiritual experience as you contribute to the life of the community.

See you Sunday morning at 10:00 AM in the sanctuary for worship, sharing and learning.  Bring a family member, friend, colleague or neighbor (or three!) to join us.  Strangers are welcome, too!

May God bless us and keep us on the way,

Pastor Rick

 

 

Pastor Rick: November 7

Communion TableThis Sunday will conclude our three week “adventure in worship” with Professor Jennifer Davidson from ABSW.  Last week Jennifer led us through some creative exercises in worship, focused on an upcoming Advent text, Luke 1:68-79, “Zecariah’s Song.”  We listened to the text and then responded to it in words, clay, drawing, music and silent meditation.  Then, we shared with one another what we had discerned.  Jennifer encouraged us to read this text over each day this week as a means of deepening our understanding and gleaning new insights.  We will continue to work with this text this Sunday with an eye toward how we might use it in our Advent worship.

As I said last week, “the next two Sundays we will not be worshiping in the traditional mode with which we are familiar.  Consider these Sundays as sort of mini-retreats, in which you are invited and encouraged to be present from 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM.  Jennifer will be leading us in some new and exciting ways to approach worship that will be beneficial to you as a worshiper and to us as a worshiping community.  Childcare will be provided for younger children, but youth will join with the adults.  There will definitely be elements of traditional worship in the experience.  This is a wonderful opportunity for us to share with a skilled leader – and with one another – in deepening our understanding and practice of worship, which is such a vital element to our mission as a church.”

Apparently some people were confused about the structure for the day so I repeat above what I said before about how the morning will proceed.  I have also heard that the path we took was not comfortable for some of you.  I appreciate that and realize that anything we do with worship will not please everyone.  Still, I thought some lovely things came out of last week’s exploration and I encourage you to give it another chance this week.  Remember what Jennifer said about how our resistance itself may be prayer and try to understand your own response to the experience.

Since this is also a stewardship month, I want to share with you some wise words that Jim Hopkins from Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church in Oakland shared with his congregation about the significance of giving.  “…we leave you with two challenges. First, make your commitments with the understanding that they are not a fringe benefit to your church but an essential contribution to our life together. Second, a generation to whom giving to the church was almost second nature is passing away. Those of us who have benefited greatly from their steadfast generosity need to consider how we can rise to their level of commitment.”  These are good words for us as we consider our own pledges for 2013.

See you Sunday morning at 10:00 AM in the sanctuary for worship, sharing and learning.  Bring a family member, friend, colleague or neighbor (or three!) to join us.  Strangers are welcome, too!

May God bless us and keep us on the way,

Pastor Rick

Pastor Tripp: November 1

Rev. Tripp HudginsWe have had a lively autumn together. Focusing on our fellowship and worship, weʹve met for potlucks, to dance, to sing, to share our experiences of worship as a spiritual practice. Some of us have spoken about long‐standing traditions or about the memories we have of traditions that have been abandoned.

We have prayed together. We have wondered together. Itʹs been a full season. The children have been equally active. We have spend our Sundays learning about other religions such as Hinduism and Islam. We have watched video and listened to music. Weʹve shared what weʹve all learned in school about the world and asked questions about our own religious tradition. It has been a full season.

Of course, the season isnʹt over yet. As I write this, Dr. Jennifer Davidson continues her leadership of our congregation as we explore together various ways we might deepen and expand our worship life. Weʹll write our own liturgies. Weʹll find ways of praying together that may surprise even the most experienced of us. As we continue this exploration, please hold the church in your prayers. Meet together. Share a meal. Break bread. Pray together.

November will bring First Friday and the Gratitude Potluck. The youth of the congregation will meet and learn more about what it means to be a community called to pray for the world. Then all are invited to gather on Friday, November
16 at 6:00pm in the fellowship hall for the Gratitude Potluck. Weʹll dine together and celebrate the ministry to which God has called all of us to serve this corner of the world. After the Thanksgiving holiday, weʹll move together into Advent, that time of year where we open our imaginations to the God being born in the world, Immanuel. Prepare ye the way of the Lord!