If you were able to attend yesterday's celebration [Installation Ceremony for the Rector], you were able to experience the culmination of a long journey by the community of All Saints'. My name is Linda Carpenter and I am a member of the vestry. Like many of you, my first Sunday at All Saints' I was greeted by Mabel Herring and John Sack. Their genuine warmth and appeal compelled me to continue coming to see just what kind of community was sustaining them. I began attending All Saints' about three years ago. As many of you recall, this was a time of considerable transition, loss, and upheaval. Powerful feelings were voiced. Fears, anxieties, and brokenness were a part of many conversations. What inspires me about All Saints' community is that in discerning and listening to each other, we embraced one another's struggles. I watched as hearts were broken and mended. I have witnessed healing. I have been healed. I continue to be a part of the conversation of healing of others. The All Saints' community has become a 'big' enough container for this ongoing conversation of healing and communion with God and the wider community.
Witnessing the dedication, tenacity, and fortitude of All Saints' has inspired me beyond words. Like you, I long to contribute time and talent to this lasting endeavor. What I like best about All Saints' is the constant invitation to experience community, to experience healing, to offer healing to others.
I have been at All Saints since 1984. When I thought about why I stay, my first response was, “because of all of you.” In good times and bad, you have been friends to me and my husband Bob. We are a bit different since Bob is a practicing Jew, and you have embraced us and made us feel welcome and even treasured.
But I can assure you it is more than that which keeps us here. When I walked into the sanctuary the first time in 1984 I was struck by the fact that we worship here “in the round.” To me this is a parable of sorts - a symbol of our commitment to put Christ in the center, and our commitment to be in relationship not just with each other but with Christ. I hate to get mystical on you, but I can tell you that seeing all of your faces as I worship is very moving and powerful, and it binds me here in a special way.
We have shared some tough times together recently and we have come out the other side. Along the way we have experienced some powerful feelings and I have to confess that I was not always sure I would stay here - what kept me here is a strong sense that God is here in our midst. We see the fruits of the Spirit in the form of reconciliation and wisdom - we have done a lot of hard work together in the past 2 years and it shows.
Of course when I think about the fruits of the Spirit I am not just talking about our amazing Peace which fills me with hope and joy each Sunday. I am talking about how we have all come together in the values we have developed together and in the work we do for others - continuing the healing process and also ministering and reaching out beyond our walls here with Hotel de Zink and other ministries.
I am proud of us now and I am excited to see what we will become. I know that God’s grace here with us and God is acting through us as a community. I give my time and talents and treasure to this place because I know it is where God has called me to belong and because we have God’s work to do together.
I don't know where to begin about what AS means to me. There are so many things I could mention. I'll just pick a few of them to share at this time.
Prior to joining AS, my husband Fred and I had had a bad experience at another church that apparently was not unlike the AS experience of a few years ago. Because of that, we didn’t attend church at all for a number of years. But then he got sick and after his first operation, he really wanted to find a church home for us, particularly one in which we could both participate in the choir (he was a choral and orchestra director as well as a music teacher). So, we visited a number of local churches. Some were cold and dark, but when we came to AS for the first time (it was summer), we were given the Mabel and John Sack greeting that we really responded to. We all know about the hospitality of this parish as Terry so eloquently described in his Homily for Rich Scherer.
As we began to come a few times more, and as Fred got sicker, we began to experience the wonderful support of the clergy and the continuing friendliness of the members. I think this was the real beginning of my journey here. After Fred passed away, I began to come more regularly. The comfort of the service and the people was very helpful as I worked hard to get through the first awful year after his death. I remained somewhat isolated due to my inner turmoil, but found that the ritual of the service was in itself a constant that took me back to my former comfort in a couple of Episcopal churches I had attended regularly. However, I gradually began to participate more and my attachment to the parish grew with each thing I did, always experiencing the camaraderie and support of this wonderful community.
As I worked through this period, I found myself becoming more able, with the support of the church community, to participate. I wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to take – singing was a given, but there was also outreach, my finance and administrative experience as well as project & program management, etc. So, I pretty much tried them all and found that my attachment to the parish grew with each thing I did, always experiencing the camaraderie and support of this wonderful community.
There are 2 specific experiences here that have shaped me as I’ve moved through this journey. The first was my recognition that I really couldn’t forgive my former church family for what they had done, regardless of how much I wanted to and knew it was the “right” way. Sherridan and I discussed this and I found comfort in her comments that there may be some things you can’t forgive. But then, at a meeting of the parish during the search, a member of my former parish was in attendance. Somehow this brought up all the emotion associated with the experience and my AS friends noticed and listened and supported me as I basically let it all out. Since that time, the emotion isn’t there any more and the events no longer haunt me as they did for the better part of 10 years. Such wonderful people!!
The second experience was a spiritual one. During the Vestry discernment of who should be called as our next Rector (or who God had chosen), each of us went to a place to be alone and consider this. I chose to come into the sanctuary and just sat in a pew and meditated. I don’t know how to describe what happened during that time – there aren’t words, really. But I felt the presence of God who was leading me to Terry – He led me to look at this not only from my own powerful yet intimate experience during our time of interviewing Terry, but also from the point of view of what is right for this congregation. It was so clear who we should and would call.
So, in conclusion, to me, AS is a very special place full of wonderful people that supports our personal, social, and spiritual needs seemingly just because we are who we are and because we have this incredible facility that serves our family and the greater Palo Alto community in so many, many ways.
When I thought about why I like All Saints, what immediately came to my mind was not just the welcome I've received, but also the opportunity to contribute positively to this community. With the support of some of the young people here, I recently started a Young Adults group. For me, the group has been a wonderful way of connecting with peers who are fun to be around and interested in exploring the Christian life together.
Also, I really enjoy the sermons. Every week, Father Terry's words inspire me in my professional and personal life to be a better man. They highlight the countless ways the Bible reminds us of the importance of compassion, sacrifice and determination, despite the obstacles we face every day. These sermons have also shown me that doctrine and dogma aside, the story of Jesus' life, death and resurrection point to a way in which people can be reconciled with God and by extension, with each other. When I first started learning about Christianity, it came as no surprise to me that the earliest Christians were called "followers of the way," a categorization which I personally believe puts faith and practice on somewhat of an equal footing.
Here at All Saints, it is the practice of those values, which we are reminded of every Sunday, that keeps drawing me here. Every time I come, I am inspired by the commitment the members of this church show each other. I am excited about our work to make All Saints an even more welcoming house of worship never stops, because I truly believe there are so many people of diverse origins and walks of life that can really benefit from being here. As I continue my journey with this church, I am eager to learn and help.
When I started coming here, about 15 years ago, I was recently divorced after a 30-plus years of marriage. Everywhere I went I saw couples - at the movies, when I was hiking in the Olympic Peninsula, even in church. So I came here at 8:00 one Sunday, specifically at 8:00, because I figured there would be fewer people to notice me alone. And I saw people who were single: I noticed Cynthia Dorgan and George Vizvary, Nancy McLane and Lin Miller. And others I don't remember now. And I thought, this is a place where I don't stand out as different.
Over these years I have experienced the love and acceptance of others who attend All Saints'. I have stopped noticing the differences and noticed instead how everyone is welcomed here, and accepted. And I've come to believe in something else: God loves me, no matter what.
Like all families, all communities, we have experienced storms and we have weathered them. Through it all I have seen people who have become my friends here, holding fast, trusting in God. All Saints' has become one of the most important aspects of my life.
When the annual stewardship appeal letter comes to your mailbox, I know you will take time to reflect on the strength of this community, of all it provides to us and the neediest in our greater Palo Alto area. I hope you'll consider moving All Saints' Church to the top of the list of organizations that you support with your time and treasure. I will do my part, and I hope you will too.
Hello. My name is Dan Lopez, and I was asked ... what I like about All Saint's.
... after I was asked that, I realized that this was a slightly complicated question for me, as I come from a slightly complicated religious background--which isn't saying anything special, I realize, considering that everyone here has a background that is uniquely complicated and interesting--but still, one of the ways that my background is special, that is actually relevant to why I especially like coming to All Saint's, is that my background actually predisposed me to not attend church.
I come from a family that didn't attend church regularly, and furthermore, I come from a technical and analytical background where anything "faith-based" has traditionally been treated with intense... skepticism.
However, it has been impossible to be skeptical here--about the love that everyone has for each other, and about their sincere faith, and about the caring and friendliness of this community. What you all have here, and what you have shared with me, is not just faithful and caring, but genuine, more so than I have felt at any other church.
And so, to make this short and sweet: just as I have found it impossible to be skeptical here, I have also found it impossible to stay away.
All Saints' Church has been an important part of my life since moving to Palo Alto in the 1960's. When the vestry decided to tear down the old shingled church and build a church in the round many people including myself were unhappy with the configuration but soon that feeling changed. The circular seating gave the congregation a feeling of intimacy and togetherness. Today there are at least four things that really make All Saints' a special place:
One. The sanctuary is truly a holy place to worship and thank God.
Two. Terry and Rodney give us the opportunity to feel closer to God.
Three. The feeling of community is strongly present at All Saints' which brings people together in a very positive way.
Finally, the Food Closet gives the Church an opportunity to reach out to the needy in Palo Alto.
My journey of faith is deeply related to my excellent priests – Sherridan and Terry. They are both very kind, loving, great teachers and beacons of light for me.
All Saints’ has a great liturgical tradition, a meaningful outreach program and beautiful music by Rod, our maestro!
I seek being in a community where I am inspired to do greater good, and a loving community where enriching relationships with God and people are developed. I would have no hesitation to say that I found them here at All Saints’.
Every week, I feel challenged by Terry to grow spiritually. I am so inspired by his sermons and have learned so much from him.
Every week, he leads me to a better place spiritually. Terry, thank you, for your guidance, inspiration and amazing faith
I have met some truly wonderful friends here at All Saints’. I experience their love and their authenticity. I cherish them and feel so blessed to have them in my life! I want to say I am very proud of All Saints’ and I am enormously thankful to be part of this loving community.
These are the reasons why I feel so drawn to All Saints’. However, I am also a pragmatist. I am acutely aware that we need resources so that we can continue to upkeep the Church and to be blessed with all the wonderful ministries here.
This is pledge time. I will do my part to give my support to the Church so that it can continue with its many good works. I hope and encourage you to do the same.