History of All Saints’ Palo Alto
Since 1892, we have served downtown Palo Alto. Our church is a few blocks from the birthplace of Facebook, Google, and other 21st century enterprises. Originally, it was a quarter of a wheat field donated by Timothy Hopkins, founder of Palo Alto and heir to the railroad fortune of Mark Hopkins, one of early California’s “Big Four.”
All Saints’ expanded as Palo Alto grew. The post-WWII era saw growth under the leadership of The Rev. Oscar Green, with an emphasis on helping the Palo Alto community during the Great Depression and World War II. In 1957, there were 600 families on the parish mailing list. Our education building was built in this time, and the current church “in the round” was built in the late 60’s.
All Saints’ was led by James McLeod from 1971 until 1993. During McLeod’s tenure, community outreach continued and expanded. All Saints’’ began opening its 10-year-old education building to local community groups in need of space, such as the Peace and Justice Center and Urban Ministry. La Comida, a lunch program for senior citizens, served meals in the parish hall for six years during that period. In 1976, the late Patsy McAfee contacted eight other churches and started the Food Closet, which is still housed at All Saints’. When the Diocese of California was divided in 1980, All Saints’’ cast its lot with the new Diocese of El Camino Real, which stretches from Palo Alto south to San Luis Obispo.
The Reverend Margaret Irwin was called as our new Rector and was installed in March 1994. Under Margaret’s leadership, the new parish hall was completed, including the generous space still used by the Food Closet today. All Saints’ became involved with Peninsula Interfaith Action and hosted a huge “action” at the church, which eventually led to the building of Palo Alto’s Opportunity Center for the homeless. This was a natural outgrowth of the interfaith Urban Ministry, which had its start in the All Saints’ education building. Margaret retired in 2004.
In 2005, we called The Reverend Ian Montgomery to be our Rector. Ian’s rectorate was characterized by a number of achievements, including Vision 2007, through which we sought to reenergize our ministry to children and youth and repair our Education Building, with the goal of becoming a downtown center for music, social outreach and the arts. However, there were disagreements surrounding the direction of All Saints’, and in 2008 the Vestry and Ian mutually agreed that All Saints’ and Ian were not a good fit.
Bishop Mary recommended that we spend two years with an experienced interim pastor, as we prepared to call a permanent rector. The Reverend Sherridan Harrison helped us navigate this period. In 2010, All Saints’ called Terry Gleason to be our Rector, where he served until February 2021, when he took a position in Austin, Texas.
During Terry’s time at All Saints’, we continued the traditions of involvement in liturgy, outreach to the mid-Peninsula community and beyond, and emphasis on traditional music. Sunday and seasonal worship were enhanced by the introduction of texts from the wider Anglican Communion. A new Good Friday service – the Solemn Evensong for the Burial of Christ – was created and immediately became the most attended Holy Week liturgy.
We have continued our support of the Food Closet, Hotel deZink, and various initiatives with the Diocese of Southeast Mexico. We have become a contributing parish to Cristosal, and our parishioners generously support programs in Tanzania and SE Mexico.
COVID saw a deeper engagement with local East Palo Alto programs, such as Boys and Girls Clubs of the Peninsula, Ecumenical Hunger Program, Live in Peace, Adolescent Counseling Services and The Episcopal Diocese of Navajoland, among others.
A successful capital campaign–associated with the church’s 125th Anniversary–helped us convert to solar energy, restore the church floors, re-key the campus, install metalwork screens, enhance security, upgrade our sound system, build new vestment closets for the sacristy, install a columbarium, and re-landscape the parish.
You may see more in the History section of our website.
The typical services at All Saints’ are:
- 8am Eucharist: A small, quiet gathering that is simpler than the 10am service. We sing fewer hymns and employ shorter texts.
- 10am Eucharist: This suits a musical parish that loves to sing! We sing hymns and service music alongside our adult choir and, occasionally, with our children’s choir and instrumentalists from among our congregation.
- 9:30am Summer Single Service (June, July, August): An opportunity to worship as one community and sample liturgies from other Anglican churches around the world.
- Though currently not active, we have sponsored small noontime services and “patio eucharist” midweek, with a shared meal monthly in the summer.
- We have the complement of traditional services for holidays, such as Christmas and Easter. In the last few years, we added a new Good Friday service, the Solemn Evensong for the Burial of Christ, which became the most attended Holy Week liturgy.
For more on our services, see www.asaints.org.
Location and Facilities
All Saints’ is located in downtown Palo Alto, a vibrant university town with many restaurants, shops, and stores. It is the intellectual heart of Silicon Valley, adjacent to Stanford University. The church property is located at 555 Waverley Street, Palo Alto, California. It surrounds a small common area, filled with trees and a labyrinth for contemplation. We have completely redone the landscaping of the grounds within the last year. The buildings are:
- Church ‘in the round’ – The current church was built in the mid-1960’s and reflects the style of the era (e.g. concrete). The church is well known for its organs and its fabulous acoustics. The main organ is a Flentrop Orgelbouw brand, and is well-known to local professional organists. We have a second, smaller Flentrop organ, which has recently been converted to meantone and incorporated into the Sunday worship.
- Parish Hall – Connected to the church is a large parish hall that includes a substantial kitchen and Fireplace Room. It is used to host meetings, forums, parties/other events, and hospitality.
- Education Building – The education building was built in the late 1950’s to accommodate a growing parish and includes a library. During recent years, various offices and areas of the education building have been rented out to other organizations, including a downtown day-care center.
- Office building, Chapel, and gardens – Across from the church is the main building. It houses the offices for the priest and other personnel. There is a small chapel that has been used for noon time services. There is also a memorial garden attached to this building.
Currently, All Saints has the following staff:
- Susan Reaves – Susan has been a long time Parish and Campus Administrator at All Saints’ through the terms of several rectors. She supports all aspects of life at All Saints’. Whether it be office management, parish records or scheduling events at All Saints’, Susana has become the “go-to” person. She is a significant part of the All Saints’ family.
- Renee Reaves – Renee has been in charge of the Facility & Building Maintenance for many years. She is a key member of the All Saints’ community, who, with quiet capability and dedication, makes sure that we’re able to use the All Saints’ facilities for all activities.
- Music Director – All Saints’ has had a music director for many years, who works closely with the rector to pair innovative music with our services, direct the choir, and play our organs. We are currently searching for a new music director, in parallel with our search for a Priest-in-Charge.
There are more details about our leadership, including Vestry bios at the Leadership section of our website.