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Update on in-person Gatherings

Dear Church —

I am writing to you today on behalf of Session to update you on our plans for in-person worship gatherings.

On October 21, 2020, Session approved the following motion, “Because of ongoing concern and love for our congregation and community, First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto does not anticipate conducting in-person worship services until the end of May, 2021.”

Session understands the deep yearning for folks to see one another in person, but we also are committed to gathering only if we can do so in a safe and meaningful way. While our online worship does not allow us to be in the same room, we have built relationships, increased worship attendance, and have reimagined what it means for the Body of Christ to gather around “the table.” So even though county criteria may allow for a percentage of us together in person, we do not feel that the time, energy, and need are compelling enough for us to do so.

That said, we know that guidelines and realities change daily, so we also offer the following understandings as we navigate the future:

  • While we will not be accepting short-term rentals, we will continue to work with our long-term tenants to make sure that the essential services they are currently providing will continue to be offered in a safe manner.
  • No sooner than Spring 2021, and if municipal health guidelines allow, we will consider holding in-person, small group gatherings on campus.
  • The church offices will remain closed with our staff working remotely as much as possible and appropriate.

Approaching eight months since we last gathered, combined with the weight of other things happening in the world, we know that we grieve another delay to our regathering. Please know that Session is doing their best to provide opportunities for meaningful worship, care and compassion, and loving action in the world and will soon be asking the congregation for more input about how we can be the church even more fully.

As we move forward, we will continue to stay abreast of any developments, remain in communication with you, and make decisions guided by faithful discernment. Please pray for the leaders you have called to Session, your staff, and everyone touched by the life and ministry of First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto.

If you have any thoughts about this, either positive or negative, please feel free to email Session at

Peace be with you —
Bruce Reyes-Chow, Your Pastor