Dan Buttry’s visit

candleringWhat a great day we had on Sunday. It was such a treat to have Dan Buttry, Global Specialist for Peace and Justice, American Baptist International Ministries, with us for worship, adult education and lunch. Dan represents the kind of meaningful, contemporary mission work that keeps us, as a congregation, supporting American Baptist missions. His sermon and his sharing helped us see what a difference the gospel can make when communicated in a way that helps people live into peace and justice. And Dan’s work stretches around the globe, touching the lives of all kinds of people in all kinds of places. We heard stories from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Uganda, the Naga area of India. Philippines, Mexico and Kyrgystan. I was especially impressed with the stories of courageous, passionate young people who are learning conflict transformation from Dan and boldly practicing it in very dangerous situations. Our support for this work is surely well-spent. I hope this inspires us to give a little more to meet and even exceed our goal for the month’s World Mission Offering.

This Sunday, we will continue to “make the road by walking” it. Both Wally Bryen and Dan used texts from McLaren’s book so we are still on schedule. This week’s theme is “Rivalry and Reconciliation.” We have a choice of four great texts – the reconciliation of Jacob and Esau, the reconciliation of Joseph and his brothers, the celebration of those who care for “the least of these” in Matthew and the parable of the Good Samaritan. I think we will focus on the Joseph story for worship, though each of these passages teaches us something about rivalry and reconciliation. Even in situations of murderous rivalry the face of God may appear in compassion, forgiveness and healing of broken relationships. This is good news.

Don’t forget the potluck and pumpkin carving Friday evening and our Quarterly Business meeting Sunday after worship.

See you Sunday at 10:00 AM for Worship and Sunday School.

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

Pastor Rick  

This Week at First Baptist (10/8)

  • CalendarNO CHURCH CHOIR this week or next.
    We will resume on October 16. 
  • Sunday, October 12, 2014
    10:00 AM Worship and Sunday School:
    What is Faith?,” Rev. Wally Bryen preaching.
    11:30 AM: During the usual time for Adult Spiritual Formation we will have a Special Meeting with the Parents of Our FBCPA Children in the Parlor to talk about the hopes and desires for how First Baptist might meet the needs of our kids and young families.
  • NO BIBLE STUDY Tuesday, October 14, 2014
    We will resume October 21, 10:30 am: Bible Study
    at the Terraces of 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, October 15, 2014, 8:30 am: Men’s Breakfast at Palo Alto Breakfast House, 2706 Middlefield, Palo Alto. All the men from our Church family are welcome.
  • Wednesday, October 15, 2014, 12:00 noon: Baptists Lunching Together at Grand Lake Gardens in Oakland.
    Lunch is $8.00.  Speaker: Paul Martin, President, and Victor Vanloo, Development Director, American Baptist Seminary of the West.  Reservations call Joan Thatcher, (510) 350-7008.
  • Thursday, October 16, 2014, 5:00 pm: Church Council in the Parlor.


  • Thursday, October 23, 2014, 10:00 am: Women’s Breakfast at Corner Bakery Cafe, 3375 El Camino Real, Palo Alto. All women of our church community are invited to join in.
  • Friday, October 24, 2014, 6:00 pm: Annual Potluck and Pumpkin Carving in the Fellowship Hall. Bring the whole family!
  • Sunday, October 26, 2014: Quarterly Business Meeting after worship.

Evaluating our ministry

Mixon MusesEvery year since I have been here the Council has conducted a Pastor’s Evaluation. I believe this is an important process in order to keep me and us focused on our mission. The feedback is sometimes challenging but always useful. A part of this process has been to set goals for the year ahead that then become a part of next year’s evaluation.

For a couple of years now some Council members have suggested it might be more valuable to evaluate church program goals rather than just the pastor’s goals. After all we are all in this together. Questions, concerns and affirmations about my role in the life of the congregation are important but perhaps better considered in the context of the congregation’s mission and program needs. This year we decided to take that tack in the evaluative process. I found it very helpful and I think the Council did, too.

So elsewhere you will find a list of projected goals for 2014/15. Thanks to our Moderator, Carolyn, who not only shepherded the process but consolidated our thoughts and notes into this set of goals. We will have an open discussion of these goals at our Quarterly Business meeting on October 26 and I urge you to be there to participate in the conversation.

As you will see ongoing, and appropriate concern is raised for the worshiping life of our congregation. We have never really had a working Worship Task Team since I’ve been here, though I get plenty of input from a variety of sources. We want to find some more systematic way of getting formal feedback for worship planning. Of course, we welcome informal input as well.

As our mission statement affirms: “We are church whose mission is to worship God.” I don’t think it’s an accident that is first on our list. We have made a variety of efforts to address the needs of our families with children and adults. A big part of next year will be to welcome a new full time pastoral staff person in this area as well as in church growth. In the meantime, how do we minister to the families we currently have? They are essential to the make‐up of our congregation. There are key questions about what their needs and desires are. What is it they want from their church? I am pleased that also see elsewhere in this Spire you will see that our current Minister with Children, Youth and Families, Doug Davidson, has scheduled a meeting with these parents on October 12 to begin to address just such questions and concerns.

With the change of staffing this summer, I have taken on responsibility for Adult Education. I am delighted to do this and will provide as much direct leadership as I can but it would be great to have some non‐staff leadership in this area as well. I know many of you make interesting trips, are involved in interesting projects and read interesting books and articles. Please feel free to volunteer to share any of this in our Adult Spiritual Formation hour on Sundays. If you would like to talk about what this entails  or have other ideas about Adult Education, feel free to speak to me.

We are always looking for ways to be more hospitable around here. We do a pretty good job of greeting visitors. We have a  regular schedule of events for the community. Could we do a better of job of integrating visitors and friends into the congregation? What can we do to build community life for all of us – old and new? This might include social events, but it might also involve opportunities for service. We have some ideas about how to approach this, but we would also love to have your input in meeting these goals for enhancing our community life and involvement in the year ahead.

Last but not least is our facility. Many of us celebrate how well our building is used these days. However, this means both maintenance and improvements are in order to serve the needs of our congregation and all those who share the space with us. You will see we have identified several short and long term goals for our facility. We have taken good care of our “house” (God’s house) in the past and I hope we will continue to do so. Though “the church is not a building,” taking care of what we have is good stewardship and also enriches our life together.

I’ll close with a beautiful prayer from Oscar Romero, Martyr and former Archbishop of El Salvador, that I hope will draw us on
toward the goals of ministry that God has for us in this time and place.

It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is the Lord’s work. Nothing
we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that should be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession bring perfection, no
pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives
includes everything.

This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities. We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future that is not our own.

Yours in the work,
Pastor Rick