Moving Change Along

God's PeopleA large group gathered at First Methodist Church to watch the documentary film, “White Like Me.” I found it to be a powerful analysis of white privilege and racism in this country. No one is exempt from the effects of these phenomena. They are deeply embedded in our cultural values and social systems. Though I imagine most of us long for the day when privilege and prejudice may be laid to rest, we aren’t there yet. Whatever progress we’ve made toward social and cultural change is not nearly enough. We still have a long way to go.

One of things that Pastor Kaloma Smith kept asking us Monday night is what are we going to do. It’s one thing to sit and watch a powerful movie, to feel the struggle and pain, to share our stories of the past and present; it’s another thing to seek out and commit ourselves to the actions that will make life different. One commitment is to keep talking and listening and learning from one another. Another suggestion is to speak up when we are aware of the exercise of white privilege and racism whenever and wherever we encounter them, regardless of the personal or social price. Chip Clark attended a pre-screening planning meeting for an event for children in our community to be held at Mitchell Park in September. What ideas do you have to move along this needed change in our own community and the wider world?

Sunday as we continue our journey of “Adventure with the Spirit of God,” we will focus on “The Spirit of Power.” Again, there are several texts suggested by Brian McLaren. I’ve chosen one from 1Thessalonians, the oldest writing in the New Testament. Here Paul exhorts the congregation to “encourage one another and build each other up.” What better way to consolidate and motivate the power of a community to bear witness to and work for God’s Beloved Community on earth?

Join us at 10:00 AM for worship, followed by Patio Hour. Alan Plessinger will be hosting us for a special treat – an ice cream social! Bring someone along to share the experience with you.

May we continue to grow together as God’s people.
Pastor Rick

This Week at First Baptist (7/29/15)

CalendarThis Week at First Baptist

  • The Church Choir is on hiatus for the Summer. We will resume rehearsals in September.
  • Sunday, August 2, Eleventh Sunday in Pentecost
    10:00 AM: Worship for the Whole Family with Communion:
    Alive in the Spirit of God: Spirit of Power,” Pastor Rick preaching, followed by Patio Hour – Ice Cream social hosted by Alan Plessinger
  • Tuesday, August 4, 10:30 AM: Bible Study at the Terraces of Los Altos. We will meet at Marylea McLean’s apartment, 373 Pine Lane, #4204, Los Altos.
  • Wednesday, August 5, 8:30 AM: Men’s Breakfast,  at Palo Alto Breakfast House, 2706 Middlefield, Palo Alto. All the men from our Church family are welcome.


  • Sunday, August 9, 10:30 AM [note the time change!]: “Unity In Diversity,” our annual joint service in Mitchell Park with Covenant Presbyterian and University AME Zion. This year we also welcome First Presbyterian, iChurch and the Tongan Methodist Fellowship that meets at University AME Zion to the celebration. Worship for the whole family will be followed by a potluck lunch, also in the park. Bring food to share and invite someone to share the day with you. If you can help with set-up (9:00 AM) or clean up afterwards that would be great. There will be a joint choir that will rehearse at 9:30 AM.
  • Saturday-Sunday, August 22-23: Candidating Weekend to meet Gregory Stevens, candidate for Associate Pastor. Watch for details.

A Note from Pastor Rick

Three candlesJan and Peter Gunderson seem to being having a wonderful trip to Scandinavia based on pictures they’ve posted on Facebook. We miss Jan’s music but it was great to have Ruth Winter playing piano last Sunday and this. Ruth always adds a lot to our worship. Oleta is slowly making her way back into the office. It is good to see her smiling face and have her handle some of the administrative details of our congregational life. I am very pleased that Doug Davidson has agreed to stay with us until we find our new Associate Pastor. He did a great Time with Children and Youth last Sunday on the Parable of the Sower.

We’ll continue with the Hebrew Prophets this week as we consider a beautiful poetic text from Isaiah. There is “no other rock” he says than Yahweh, the Rock of Ages. Of course there are more words and images for God than we can imagine. This notion of God as rock, as someone or something solid, dependable, protective is one people have turned to for centuries. There are undeniably times when each of us, no matter how smart, wise or strong needs shelter from the storm. Every Sunday before the sermon, I pray that my words and our meditations will be acceptable to God who is our “Rock and our Redeemer.”

See you Sunday at 10 AM for Worship, Sunday School and for the patio hour to follow.

God grant us more light, more love, more life as we journey together.

Pastor Rick  


Busy days

Three candlesLast week was especially busy with the Grace Baptist anniversary celebration, two dress rehearsals and three concerts, the presentation by Palestinian Christians here in our Fellowship Hall, and the Associate Pastor Search Committee’s first meeting, along with Sunday worship and Patio Hour. It was a rich and full week for which I am grateful, but I have to say I crashed on Monday, equally grateful for a day off. There should be some breathing room in the days to come.

I am also grateful that Oleta is starting back to work some this week. Her surgery and recovery have been a long ordeal for all of us. We won’t work her too hard in the beginning. We’ll just be thankful she’s here. There are many tasks and details that she handles for us that need her expert and experienced touch. We have managed to stay afloat but it will be good to have her back.

The church choir is on hiatus for the summer and Jan and Peter are off on a wonderful adventure in Scandinavia. We are always grateful for Jan’s wonderful leadership of our music program and for our choir. This week Jean Cole will play the service and the following two Sundays we will welcome our friend, Ruth Winter.

Don’t forget Sunday is the church picnic so bring a side dish to share and dress casually. Eleanor Satterlee is still looking for Patio Hour hosts for the rest of the summer, so see her if you can help out.

For the month of July we will continue to delve into the prophets. This week we have the famous passage from Zechariah that is often an Advent reading and is the source of the great soprano aria from Messiah, “Rejoice Greatly!” In this “peace poem,” Zechariah gives God’s promise to the struggling returnees from exile of better days to come, days filled with peace and the goodness of God. Promises of peace and well-being are good to hear anytime. As the people of the USA remember our Independence Day and the foundation of our nation, may we also remember that, beyond our borders, this is all God’s world. As the great cellist, Pablo Casals, once said, “Love of country is a wonderful thing, but why should love stop at the border?” There are sisters and brothers all over this globe with whom we need to live – in peace and love, in harmony and well-being.

See you Sunday at 10 AM for Worship, Sunday School and for the picnic to follow. This is a perfect time to invite someone(s) to share the day with you.

God grant us more light, more love, more life as we journey together.

Pastor Rick  



This Week at First Baptist (6/25)

  • CalendarThursday, June 26 at 10 AM: Womenʹs Brunch will be at Corner Bakery Cafe, 3375 El Camino Real, Palo Alto. All women of our church community are invited to join in.
  • Thursday, June 26, 7:00 PM: “Myths And Realities About The Holy Land: A Palestinian-American Christian Perspective” in theFellowship Hall.Special guests Tarek Abuata and G. J. Tarazi will share their first-hand assessments of the situation in Palestine. Both are founding members of the Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace, a non-sectarian, ecumenical alliance of Palestinian-American Christians that seeks to provide a clear voice and presence in faith-based communities in the USA. For more information: FBCPA Council is a co-sponsor of this event.
  • Friday, June 27 at 8:00 PM: “Earthsongs: Americana” The Choral Project presents a concert of wonderful music from the Americas in our sanctuary, Veterans and students are eligible for free admission. Ushers are also needed. See Pastor Rick, Dan Cudworth or Afan Huang or the flyers on the bulletin boards for more information.
  • Saturday, June 28, 9:30 AM: Assistant Pastor Search Committee in the Parlor.
  • Sunday, June 29, Third Sunday of Pentecost10:00 AM, Worship and Sunday School: “Prophets of Peace,” Pastor Rick preaching.
    First Patio Hour of the summer hosted by Caroline Shepard and Marilyn Hunwick.
  • Tuesday, July 1, 10:30 AM: Bible Study at the Terracesof Los Altos at Janet Maxwell’s apartment. The address is 373 Pine Lane,#2106, Los Altos. Let Pastor Rick know if you need a ride.
  • Wednesday, July 2 – 8:30 AM: Men’s Breakfast at Palo Alto Breakfast House, 2706 Middlefield, Palo Alto. All the men from our Church family are welcome.


  • Sunday July 6: Church Picnic immediately following worship. Come to church in picnic attire and stay for fun, food and fellowship

Patio Hour is Coming Soon!

labyrinth01Summer is coming and with it the warm mornings, which we can enjoy outside on our new patio, after worship. Families, or a group of friends, and Task Team members are urged to take turns providing refreshments for Patio Hour on our very new and desirable patio space. Please choose a Sunday when you and your family or group can take a turn serving refreshments, setting up the table and afterwards taking down and putting away, including cleaning up.

Congregational Care task team members will provide suggestions and advice including suggestions for what to serve and where to find it. Patio Hour begins on Sunday, June 29, and ends on August 31. Your offerings are always appreciated.

(from Eleanor Satterlee)

Summer Time…

Three candlesIt’s summer time and the living is easy, well maybe for some anyway. The rest of us keep plugging along. This week is especially busy for those of us who sang in The Choral Project – Dan Cudworth, Afan Huang and myself – as we prepare for our last concert series of the season. Pardon the shameless promotion but if you want to hear an exceptional choral concert of music you will love, I encourage to show up for one of these concerts. The music includes hymns, songs, and folk tunes from the Americas –USA, Canada and Latin America. Friday night will be in our sanctuary. Veterans, children and youth are eligible for free admission.

Saturday morning we will have the first meeting of our Assistant Pastor Search Committee. As I mentioned last week, Dan Cudworth, Don Ha, Melanie Ramirez and Hugh Satterlee have agreed to serve with Carolyn Shepard and me on this committee. We will look over job descriptions and lay out a process on Saturday. If you have input, please feel free to give it to any committee member and please hold us in your prayers.

Sunday we will spend more time with the prophet, Jeremiah. In this week’s text, we find Jeremiah in a battle with the court prophet, Hananiah, over true and false prophecy. Is it right to promise peace when it really is not on the horizon, nor have the people done those things that make for peace? What does it mean to be a true prophet of peace? After worship, we will enjoy the summer’s first patio hour, hosted by Marilyn Hunwick and Carolyn Shepard.

See you Sunday at 10 AM for Worship, Sunday School and fellowship on the patio.

God grant us more light, more love, more life as we journey together.

Pastor Rick