Kids welcome at Day Camp, July 6-10

July 6-10, 9am – 3pm

for children ages 5-12, who have finished kindergarten through 6th grade.  All are welcome to attend, whether you’re a church member or just a neighbor looking for summer activities for kids.

Summer staff young adults from Mt Cross Ministries come to our church to lead a week of faith-based fun, including group games, arts and crafts, worship, community-building activities and bible encounters based on our summer theme for 2015: “a love that never ends.”

Registration: there’s a $100 fee.  Complete the following registration and health forms:



Email completed forms to a pastor or mail to:

Attn Barbara Erickson, First Lutheran Church, 600 Homer Ave, Palo Alto 94301


FLC to revise RIC statement of welcome

At the semi-annual meeting – June 7, 2015 – our congregation will have the opportunity to vote to adopt a new statement of welcome.

Discussion opportunity beforehand: Sunday, May 24 at 11:45 or so in the library – but PLEASE contact one of the pastors if you can’t make it and wish you could, or if you might want to discuss one on one.  Please note that the original scheduled discussion (May 31st) has been cancelled, as the pastors will both be at synod assembly.

The proposed new statement of welcome (drafted by Margaret Marshall in collaboration with Joe Haletky (RIC rep for Sierra Pacific Synod), the church council and pastors:

We, the community of First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Palo Alto, proclaim the message that Christ, in grace, draws all people to himself. We welcome the full participation of people of all ages, ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, gender identities, physical and mental abilities, educational backgrounds, and economic conditions.  We support marriage equality for all couples, we value families in their many, diverse forms and we embrace Christians from every tradition, and people new to faith.

To replace FLC’s original (1991) statement of welcome:

As a community of the people of God, we are called to minister to all people of the world, knowing that the world is often an unloving place.  Our world is a place of alienation and brokenness.  Christ calls us to reconciliation and wholeness, and we are challenged by the Gospel to be agents of healing within our society.   We affirm with the apostle Paul that in Christ “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female” (Galatians 3:28).  Christ has made us one.  We acknowledge that this reconciliation extends also to those who affectational orientation is toward a person of the same gender.  Because gay and lesbian persons are often scorned by society and alienated from the Church, wish to make known our caring and concern.  It is for this purpose that we affirm the following:

– that gay and lesbian people share with all others the worth that comes from being unique individuals created by God;

– that gay and lesbian people are welcome within the membership of this congregation upon making the same affirmation of faith that all other people make;

– that as members of this congregation, gay and lesbian people are expected and encouraged to share in the sacramental and general life of this congregation.

Background:  For those of you who are somewhat new to the congregation, Reconciling in Christ (RIC) is a program that recognizes Lutheran communities that publicly welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender believers.  FLC has been an RIC congregation since 1991.  In speaking with some of you Pastor Kate and I have been made aware of how life giving it’s been, to extend and to receive warmly and without reservation a welcome meant for all people.

Why the new statement?  
1. Awareness of bisexual and transgender people in need of welcome has grown since our statement was originally crafted – up to date RIC statements of welcome include this language.
The new statement gives us the opportunity to acknowledge other divisions as well, and the God who continues yet to reconcile and draw us together.
2. Marriage equality is a new reality!  There are three same gender married couples at FLC, and we’d be happy to see more.
3. A shorter statement can be included more easily on bulletins and in other publications.
4. It’s a chance for new pastors and congregation to affirm together where we stand and what we feel is important.
Why does this matter?  What’s a statement of welcome for?
It’s one way we can communicate the gospel (note we say First EVANGELICAL Lutheran – let’s reclaim the “E” word as being about proclaiming GOOD news!).  There’s a general sense in our culture that Christians are the opponents of LGBT inclusion, when in fact the gospel confronts us with Christ’s passionate, yearning love for all people.  A statement of welcome can be a kind of confession: that we, together, as a congregation have known this love and stand united in extending it to all.

Folkjam: sing and play for fun! Sunday, May 17 at 4

Sunday, May 17, 4pm – 5:30

Dig into the closet for that old guitar or other accoustic instrument, or just come and sing.   John Allured, Liz Motahari, Bernt & Karl Hillesland plan on being there (guitars, violin, mandolin).

All skill levels welcome: we’ll try to stay in keys like D and G with notation provided for those who’d find it helpful.  Kids, too – there will some kid-friendly songs and a few percussion instruments.

 We’ll be playing through simple arrangements of mostly folk music, including some kid’s songs.  Here’s some of the songs we’ll start with:

You are my sunshine – I’ll fly away – Red river valley – Mama don’t’low – I’ve been working on the railroad – Jesse James – Dance around – Old Joe Clark – Angel band – I am a pilgrim -Boil em cabbage down – Free Bird– Driftin’ too far from the shore – Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling – I saw the light, Hank Williams
Knockin’ on heaven’s door (and more …! You can bring music to share).

Guitarists might want to bring capos.  If you can, rsvp to Pastor Bernt so we know how many to expect.

A friend shared this helpful essay by Rachel Held Evans on the church and millenials

A friend shared this helpful essay by Rachel Held Evans on the church and millenials.  It got me thinking.  I would invite others’ comments.

We tend to assume things about people – such as that young adults need church to be hip.  I joke about this with my brother Ivar – a pastor who serves among many young adults in Seattle – that to really be counted an “emergent” ministry one would need to have tattoos and / or clunky 50’s style glasses.   Really, the 20 somethings I’ve known who find their way into church aren’t there because it’s hip, but more likely, because they’ve been listened to and invited.

And they seek a spiritual connection.  I agree with Evans: whatever importance we may attach to marketing, what’s crucial is the faithfulness of our witness.  Evans shares: “When I left church at age 29, full of doubt and disillusionment, I wasn’t looking for a better-produced Christianity. I was looking for a truer Christianity, a more authentic Christianity.”

Evans mentions a study showing young adults prefer a “classic” church to a “trendy” one.  But I wonder if this is too simple a distinction (like “traditional” vs “contemporary”).  The use of drums by a Lutheran church in Africa might be a departure from the classical traditions of European missionaries, but does that make it trendy?  Or isn’t it just engaging in a culturally appropriate way?

And what about twitter?  I have less experience here than the Pope.  But are social networks too hip for use in communicating the gospel?

Besides preferring classic to trendy, apparently young adults prefer community to privacy, quiet to loud, casual to dignified, modern to traditional.  But I’m not sure how I feel about the question the young adults were asked in the study: “which do you find more appealing?”  A church might be appealing because it’s comfortable, or brings up feelings of nostalgia, or its entertaining – but not necessarily because it’s meaningful, challenging, life-changing.

And if even one young adult feels clear that she prefers sanctuary A to sanctuary B on a study, it doesn’t mean she’s ever going to go to either. How do we better meet people where they are?

Research data is of limited help.  When I think of “authentic Christianity” such as perhaps Evans has found, I think of people who have been personally patient with my questions and doubts and who struggle to find the words that will help me know God’s grace in my own way.  I think of those who have helped me to discover the riches of what we might call the “classics” (the writings of Augustine) as well as surprising contemporary experiences of God’s power today (L’arche, Homeboy Industries).

Upcoming music: Silicon Valley Boychoir on April 26, Double Delight on May 10

The days leading from Easter to Pentecost are especially festive – a celebration of the gift of new life that draws us together, fills us with light, gives us hope.

On Sunday, April 26th at the 10:30 service we remember Christ as the Good Shepherd who “makes us lie down beside still waters” and “restores our soul.” (Psalm 23)  The Silicon Valley Boychoir “Ovation Choir” under the direction of Julia Simon will be joining us for worship.

On Sunday, May 10th at 4pm we welcome St. Bede’s Choir together with our own FLC Choir in an eclectic program of choral music: “Double Delight.”  Two choirs, two directors, two organists; the finale of the season.  Admission for adults is $12, children 12 and under $5.