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Dear Church,

This week as I left the manse, I looked to my right to admire the poppy bloom and I saw something that I had not noticed before — “Is that an artichoke plant?” Sure enough, there it was, a very tall artichoke plant standing tall in the middle of the yard?

Now I have not been here long, but how did I miss this?
It is amazing what we learn by simply being open to noticing things.

In the same vein, I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to with me these past few weeks. I have met with over 30 people from the church and community and am thoroughly enjoying getting to know people’s stories. With each conversation, not only do I get to hear a new personal story, I find it amazing to hear of yet ANOTHER thing that FPCPA does within the church community as well as in the larger community of Palo Alto and beyond.

Truly inspiring. Thank you for being you!

With each conversation, I am also discovering where people feel that we have fallen short in the past. Whether personal relationships, organizational clarity or simply not feeling connected to or engaged in the life of the FPCPA’s mission, it is also clear that we have much work to do together to build on FPCPA’s ministry of justice, inclusion, and love!

In this first few months, I am taking my time getting to know people and living through a few cycles of church life. I do not want to assume too much and suggest changes that we will need to roll back later because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. That said, there are a few things that we are working on as your staff to address some current issues as well as build a strong foundation for the future.

What we are up to . . .

  • MASTER CALENDAR: We are in the process of creating a Master Facilities Calendar (not public), so we know what is happening and where and a Master Program Calendar public) so we can all see and share all of ways new people can connect with the life of the church. This will also help me track the bazillion meetings that happen here 🙂
  • WORSHIP PLANNING: We have begun to streamline the worship planning process and will use these next months as a time for experimentation with worship. Not only do we hope to work on flow and content, but we will also be looking at ways to make worship more visitor-friendly.
  • COMMUNICATION: One of the more profound laments that I have heard from people is their feeling a lack of connection to and communication from the church. In today’s days and age there are so many ways that people share and receive information that this will take a bit to make sure we do this well. We want to honor the ways that we currently communicate as well as explore new platforms. As a first step, I am committed to sharing with honesty, transparency, and consistency so that folks can begin to feel more connected.
  • COMMUNITY: While we have much to do around many things, I am very much looking forward to opportunities to simply be in community with one another: over a meal, through study, in worship, or by working together at this such as the WORKDAY @ THE MANSE ON MAY 5 [Sign Up Here]. With any time of transition, there are bound to be areas of conflict and disagreement. Only be building community will we be able to move through those times with grace and courage.
  • PASTORAL STAFF: Over the next month Annanda and I will be working with a coach to think through the best ways to utilize our time and commitments. With Annanda currently, full time and me 75% time clarity of our roles is vital. In other words, we are both your pastors, but at some point for the good of the church, we will not both be at everything.

THIS SUNDAY: EARTH DAY SUNDAY — if you have not heard by now, Bill McKibben will be preaching this Sunday followed by an Earth Day Fair with environmental organizations from the area. There will also be a book signing of his new book, Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?. For more information and to invite your friends, please see the Earth Day Sunday Facebook Event.


  • For Sri Lanka. May a spirit of peace be with those who are grieving and a spirit of love overcome those who l live with hate.
  • For families in turmoil. May we be compassionate, patient, and graceful with others for we never know what is happening in their lives behind their public presence.
  • For those experiencing homelessness. May we be compassionate, kind, and wise as we learn to address realities of those seeking shelter in body, mind, and spirit.

Stay cool and I’ll see you on Sunday!


PS: Have you signed up for a visit? I’m still on target to visit 60 people in 60 days, so get on over and reserve a time using THIS LINK.