Note from Pastor Rick (5/3/2017)

In spite of my head cold, I had a wonderful time at the 30th annual Convocation of the Alliance of Baptists last week in Raleigh, NC. The event started off with a day long discussion among some of the brightest and most articulate young voices in our group on the question of “Why Baptist?” Friday was spent with the dynamic and inspiring William Barber, Disciples pastor, President of the NAACP of North Carolina, and founder of both Moral Mondays and Repairers of the Breach. You may have heard the address he made to the Democratic Convention last summer. Showing both breadth and depth of skill, he led us in Bible Study, protest and press conference, scholarly panel and worship, all around themes of justice and the moral demands our faith tradition demands of us. Saturday’s worship was led by three outstanding Baptist voices – Christine Wiley, co-pastor of in Covenant Baptist UCC in Washington, DC on “Home”; Malkhaz Songulashvili, Metropolitan Bishop Tbilisi of the Republic of Georgia on “Partnership”; and Cody Sanders, pastor of Old Cambridge Baptist Church in Cambridge, MA on “Justice.” The event was topped off Sunday morning when Naomi Tutu led us in Bible study and worship. Plus, I had the added joy of brunch with Daniel and Chris Pryfogle – Daniel was our retreat leader last summer – on Sunday after worship.

It was great to get away and it’s great to get home. Thanks to Pastor Gregory and UCCM Campus Minister, Geoff Browning, for leading worship and adult ed here last Sunday. This week worship will focus on the brief, but significant description of the first “church” in Acts 2. There is a treasure trove of insight in this passage on the how the church might align itself with God’s Beloved Community. Somehow that alignment never comes easy, but what joy when it happens. We will celebrate Communion and after worship hold a Quarterly Business Meeting

Come Sunday at 10 AM, to share in worship, community and the work of our congregation. Invite family, friends, colleagues, strangers – anyone and everyone – to join in this joyous time.

Our theme for this year is “All Are Welcome in this Place.” Let’s make certain that it is so.

Pastor Rick

Note from Pastor Rick (4/26/2017)

A bad head cold is not the way to celebrate the Easter season. We had a great day on Easter Sunday (and another good day last Sunday, with Pastor Gregory preaching on resurrection,) but I woke up from my Easter Sunday nap with a sore throat and went downhill from there. I am now on the mend, enough that I will be leaving tomorrow for Raleigh, NC, where I will attend the annual Convocation of the Alliance of Baptists. This is the 30th anniversary of the organization. The theme is “Embracing God’s Call to Love and Justice.” Speakers will include William Barber, head of the NC NAACP and organizer of Moral Mondays, Desmond Tutu’s daughter, Naomi, and the Baptist Archbishop from the Republic of Georgia. It promises to be a great occasion. I am looking forward to connecting with old friends and colleagues, including Daniel Pryfogle and his wife, Chris, while I’m there.

This week at FBCPA, we welcome Geoff Browning, campus minister for United Campus Christian Ministry at Stanford. UCCM is a mission of our congregation. Pastor Gregory currently serves on their board. Geoff will preach on “Our Kairos Moment” (Leviticus 25:8-17and Luke 4:16-30) and lead Adult Spiritual Formation with an update on the work of UCCM.

Come Sunday at 10 AM, to support Geoff and the good work of UCCM. Invite family, friends, colleagues, strangers – anyone and everyone – to join in worship, education, and sharing.  See you next week.

Our theme for this year is “All Are Welcome in this Place.” Let’s make certain that it is so.

Pastor Rick   

This Week at First Baptist (10/5/16)

CalendarThis Week at First Baptist

  • Wednesday, October 5, 8:30 AM: Men’s Breakfast at Bill’s Cafe, 3163 Middlefield, Palo Alto. All the men from our Church family are welcome.
  • Thursday, October 6, 7:30 PM: Church Choir in the Parlor. Everyone is invited to share in the fun and the music.
  • Sunday, October 9, 22nd Sunday of Pentecost
    10:30 AM: Worship and Sunday School
    “Link by Link,” James 2:14-17, Charlotte Jackson preaching.11:30 AM Adult Spiritual Formation:  “Becoming Modern Day Abolitionists,” Charlotte Jackson leading. Today’s focus in worship and adult ed is on human trafficking, an area in which Charlotte has received lay training through the Disciples of Christ.
    2:45 PM Lunch Bunch at Cibo’s Restaurant. 3398 El Camino Real, Palo Alto. Let Melanie Ramirez or Alan Plessinger know if you are planning to attend.
  • Sunday, October 9, 3:00 PM: Garden Party for United Campus Christian Ministry at Stanford, hosted by Pastor Gregory and the UCCM Board. Come support this important outreach of our congregation for progressive Christians on the Stanford campus.Please rsvp to geoff.browning@stanford.edu.
  • Tuesday, October 11, 10:30 AM: Bible Study at the church in the Parlor during ongoing construction at the Terraces.
  • Wednesday, October 11, 10:30 AM: Meditation Group at Thelma Parodi’s house, 543 South El Monte Avenue, Los Altos.

LOOKING AHEAD:

  • Sunday, October 30
    10:30 AM: Worship and Sunday School
    11:30 AM Pumpkin Carving & Potluck
  • Monday, October 31, 5:00 PM: Let’s Scare Up Some Fun! Join us for a night of candy, games, and neighborhood fun!

This Week at First Baptist (9/28/16)

CalendarThis Week at First Baptist

  • Thursday, September 29, 7:30 PM: Church Choir in the Parlor. Everyone is invited to share in the fun and the music.
  • Saturday, October 1, 10:00 AM: Blessing of the Animals, the church lawn.
  • Sunday, October 2, 21st Sunday of Pentecost- World Communion Sunday
    10:30 AM: Worship for the Whole Family with Communion
    Living Love Letter,” Psalm 137; Lamentations 1:1-6, 3:19-26; Luke 17:5-10; 2 Timothy 1:1-14.
    11:30 AM Adult Spiritual Formation:  Carolyn Shepard will share about her trip to Nicaragua and her visit to our sister church in Corinto
  • Sunday, October 2, 1:00 PM: CROP WALK see details.
  • Tuesday, October 4, 10:30 AM: Bible Study at Marylea McLean’s apartment, 373 Pine Lane, #4204, Los Altos.
  • Wednesday, October 5, 8:30 AM: Men’s Breakfast at Bill’s Cafe, 3163 Middlefield, Palo Alto. All the men from our Church family are welcome.
  • Wednesday, October 5, 10:30 AM: Meditation Group at Thelma Parodi’s house, 543 South El Monte Avenue, Los Altos.

LOOKING AHEAD:

  • Sunday, October 9, 22nd Sunday of Pentecost
    10:30 AM: Worship and Sunday School
    “Link by Link,” James 2:14-17, Charlotte Jackson preaching.

    11:30 AM Adult Spiritual Formation:  “Becoming Modern Day Abolitionists,” Charlotte Jackson leading. Today’s focus in worship and adult ed is on human trafficking, an area in which Charlotte has received lay training through the Disciples of Christ.

  • Sunday, October 9, 3:00 PM: Garden Party for United Campus Christian Ministry at Stanford, hosted by Pastor Gregory and the UCCM Board. Come support this important outreach of our congregation for progressive Christians on the Stanford campus.Please rsvp to geoff.browning@stanford.edu.

Pastor Gregory Says… (5/4/16)

Gregory StevensWe had a great Quarterly Business meeting last week – if you were not able to attend please read the minutes Hugh Satterlee recorded. They highlight the good stuff! In the meeting one of the projects I focused most of my attention on is starting a queer community group on Stanford’s campus with UCCM and off campus for our surrounding neighborhoods (Redwood City, Menlo Park, Sunnyvale etc.). This work began with networking and has progressed to online web development, fund development for a campus presence, and a video project with our current high school students.

Why Queer?

One of the hardest parts about coming out gay was knowing other people would always judge me: especially Christians. When I gently kiss my boyfriend in public I get harassed. When I wear an outfit that is “too feminine” I get made fun of. When I walk, talk, or sing in a way that is “too feminine” I get called out. When I post “gay” things on Facebook I’m quick to hear about it from my Christian friends. And I must admit to having it very easy: I’m a tall, blonde, white guy, with a good education and a great job. I cannot imagine being poor trans* person of color trying to navigate this harsh world while also trying to express their true self. What I can imagine is Jesus comforting and exalting oppressed queer people to their rightful place of equality among all beings. I can imagine Jesus standing in solidarity with the queer people today because Jesus stood in solidarity with 1st century queers: women and Samaritans. In seeking to create a queer community here in Palo Alto and on Stanford’s campus I hope to create sanctuary for anyone and everyone who identifies Queer: Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Straight but not Narrow, Asexual, Two-Spirited, Pan-sexual, Intersex, and all other variations of sexuality that the church has historically said NO to. It is time to reclaim our sexualities, for in doing so we reclaim our bodies, the Body, Christ’s Body. In reclaiming our sexuality we reclaim the Church as the Body of Christ ready to transform the world with Love.

Pastor Gregory Says… (4/20/16)

Gregory StevensWe are heading into our last Sunday of Earth Month and I’m excited to introduce you to my former Florida youth group student, Elise Willis. She is now working for the City of Palo Alto in our Urban Forestry Department. Our programming will begin in the Parlor and then Elise will lead us around our church campus to explore the various greenery God has gifted us with. We often forget that it is the lush greenery, the trees and shrubs, the wild animals and their interactivity within these ecosystem (us included), that keep our lungs pumping with fresh air, our bellies full of nutrient rich foods, and our bodies healthy with their many remedies; hence our quest to live in healthy and right relations within these lively and wild ecological systems! I look forward to see you there.

Susan Bradley and I have also been working on an art exhibit that will be going up in our long hallway in the next month – expect wonderful things very soon!

On April 26th I will be cooking for the UCCM Stanford students, they request a vegetarian meal for 15. I usually cook the meal in our church kitchen and bring it over to the students in the evening. Would you be willing to help pitch in a helping hand? Email me if you are interested: gregory.stevens@me.com

“So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.”  1 Thessalonians 2:8

A Note from Pastor Gregory

Gregory StevensQueerituality (queer + spirituality) is a club on Stanford’s campus that Geoff Browning (UCCM) connected me with. Two of the students and I met for coffee and ended up talking for almost two hours! One of the students, Nate, grew up a Mormon and struggled with his sexuality and faith from an early age; Chris was a Presbyterian who recently came out to his parents, which hasn’t been easy. I was able to share some of my own story, which further connected us on multiple levels. They invited me back to join their club meetings with intrigue in the vision of progressive Christianity I was sharing in our conversation. I am prayerful that doors like this continue to open!

A similar thirst for a progressive spirituality has come up multiple times in my adventures around the city. In meeting with people of all different backgrounds, religions, creeds and colors, I’m finding a shared longing for an alternative to church-as-we-know-it. This month I’m going to begin organizing and connecting these friends together to hopefully find common ground for mutual friendship. Pray that these friendships might blossom into a larger community of questioners, seekers, provocateurs, and saints.

I am also excited to announce a Mission Trip opportunity for our older students to serve victims still suffering from Katrina in New Orleans. Hosted by YOUTHQUAKE and American Baptist Home Mission Society, we will be joining a few youth groups in our Evergreen region! I also hope to involve my friend Rev. Morgan Clark and her youth group in Skype conversations prior to the trip to help further our relationship with the community we will be serving.

There is much to celebrate and much to look forward to; may God bless our shared ministry!

Pastor Gregory