Office hours: it’s always best to arrange an appointment in advance through email or phone. One of us is in the office Tuesdays and Thursday mornings, plus other times and by appointment.Mondays is a day of rest for both of us. The main pastor’s office is across from the main office on the ground floor.
Rev. Bernt Hillesland
I am blessed! I am husband to Katherine and father to five children ages 3-11 – all of them beautiful and amazing. I get to spend time immersed in the Bible and Christian tradition, which I find to be always rich and surprising. As a pastor, what really keeps me going is to see how faith and compassion move in peoples’ lives, often in ways they don’t expect. I’m a curious person with many interests: elaborate cooking projects (pureeing ancho chiles), 19th century American literature (Moby Dick!), exploring outdoor areas with my family (we just visited Wilder Ranch – beautiful!), and music (listening to Bartok and trying to learn bluegrass mandolin).
I was baptized in Washington State. I grew up in Eastern Washington (Pasco), an arid region known for its farms, its nuclear reservation (Hanford) and the big blue Columbia River. My family was pretty active in our small Lutheran church. I even got to lead some of the chanting in worship.
I began to experience a real call to ministry during my last year of college. At St Olaf College in Minnesota, I took a class called “Vocational Ethics.” The professor said, “with four years of college, it makes sense to take one class on what to do with the rest of your life!” I shared with that class a letter: people from my home town asking me to consider ministry. The idea seemed strange but interesting. I hadn’t felt drawn to church at all during my college years.
After graduation I set out on an adventure: the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, where I would experience a new side of Christianity: living in intentional community, progressive Roman Catholic spirituality and working at a drop-in center for the homeless where I preached my first sermons. A call to ministry was taking shape. I found I was still drawn to the Lutheran tradition, which I studied at ecumenical Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut. After an internship back in Washington (Hoquiam) I finished my seminary studies at PLTS in Berkeley. I fell in love with one of the seminarians …
I have tried to seek out a variety of ministry experiences – such as seafaring and campus ministry. How will the church adapt to a changing world? My first call as a pastor was as an associate pastor at St Marks Lutheran Church by the Narrows in Tacoma, WA. Afterwards, I served at smaller St Luke Lutheran Church in Woodland Hills, CA. I am very excited to begin, now, at First Lutheran in Palo Alto!