The first half of my nine‐month internship here at First Baptist Church of Palo Alto has been a wonderful opportunity for me to “try on” the role of pastor for the first time in a congregational setting. Pastor Rick is a wise, caring, and supportive leader to learn from, and I’ve benefited greatly from working alongside Tripp and Naomi, both of whom bring great insight, experience, and passion to their work. I have deeply valued having the opportunity to involve myself in the life of this vibrant community‐‐to participate in the planning and leading of worship on a weekly basis, to lead the Adult Spiritual Formation class from time to time, to work with the youth, and to meet with the various leadership teams that shape the life of our congregation.
On my very first Sunday with you back in September, our church celebrated its 120th anniversary. It was obvious to me that day that this congregation takes a lot of pride in its long history of active ministry in this community. And it’s been clear to me in the months since then that God is still active in our midst, as we consider what new ways we might respond to the Spirit’s leading.
Our Scriptures tell the story of a God who becomes known in the unfolding of the history of a particular community of believers. The Israelites told and retold the tales of God’s activity in their midst. By remembering God’s liberating work in their past, they were empowered to confront the challenges and struggles that faced them in the present. In Psalm 136, the community recounts particular moments of God’s presence among them. And with the recalling of each event, both the highs and the lows, the same refrain is repeated: “God’s steadfast love endures forever.”
I’m grateful to be connected with a church that has such an amazing heritage. And I believe the future is bright for First Baptist Church of Palo Alto. As a congregation, you have recognized the need to find new ways to enliven your ministry in the changing context of Palo Alto today. Even as I look forward to exploring other facets of my own ministry during my second semester with you, I look forward to seeing how the mission of this church will continue to unfold. How comforting to know that the God who has brought us this far will strengthen and sustain us through the next chapter of our journey. “O Give thanks to the Lord, for God is good; God’s steadfast love endures forever ” (Ps. 136:1).