First Baptist Church
of Palo Alto



The Spire

The SPIRE is the monthly newsletter of First Baptist Church of Palo Alto.

December Issue of The Spire (pdf)

If you would prefer to receive a paper copy of the Spire, you may either pick one up at the church or ask Oleta to mail you one. If you would like to be added to the list of those who regularly receive their SPIRE by mail, please submit your request to Oleta, including your name and current mailing address.

Please note that due to programming restraints and responsibilities, the submission deadline for the monthly SPIRE is the Friday BEFORE the last Friday of each month. Last minute materials will not be included. Thank you for your cooperation.


office hours


  • Tuesday-Friday, 1:00 pm - 5:30 pm


This Sunday: December 22
FOURTH sunday of Advent

  • 10:00 AM. Worship:
    Let Us Build a House where All Are Named, their Songs and Visions Heard
    Love Is on the Way, Pastor Rick, Preaching
  • 11:30 AM Christmas Brunch (bring finger food to share) and Pageant“The Adventures of the Grinch, Nope, Dan Who Misplaced and Generally Neglected our Savior and Messiah, Christ Jesus (Amen): Episode 1” – the premier screening of a brand new video, featuring – us all!

ADULT spiritual formation

We hope you'll join us after our service of worship at 11:30 in the parlor for this time to share and learn together.

Adult Spiritual Formation in January: VISIONS OF JESUS

“Two thousand years ago, an itinerant Jewish preacher and miracle worker walked across the Galilee, gathering followers to establish what he called the ‘Kingdom of God.’ The revolutionary movement he launched was so threatening to the established order that he was captured, tortured, and executed as a state criminal. Within decades after his shameful death, his followers would call him God.”

--Reza Aslan, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

Please join us for our Adult Spiritual Formation hour during the month of January as we consider the topic, “Visions of Jesus.” Beginning with the engaging portrait that Reza Aslan offers in his provocative new book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, we will consider how different views of Jesus’ life and teachings point toward different understandings of what it means to be a disciple of Christ. We will examine Aslan’s image of Jesus as a radical political revolutionary whose goal was to liberate his people from Roman occupation. We will also look at the cultural controversy that has arisen surrounding this Muslim religious scholar’s authorship of a book about Jesus. In addition to examining Aslan’s portrait of Jesus, we’ll also consider our own images of Jesus, and how they shape our faith and our understanding of God. We’ll also review the unique glimpse of Jesus that emerges in each of the four Gospels, giving attention to the nuances, variations, and differing emphases that characterize each biblical author’s sketch of Jesus’ life. Please plan to be with us for worship and stay for the second hour for conversation about how a closer consideration of the “historical Jesus” can enliven and transform Christian faith and discipleship in the twenty-first century. --Doug Davidson

Faith Formation & Family Life:
Rev. Tripp Hudgins

Advent may be my favorite season of the Church year. The longing, the waiting, the hope, the anticipation, I connect so deeply to the spirituality of it all. I love the music, “O Come, O Come, Emanuel” and the other ancient melodies of Western Europe feel like home to me. I wonder what melodies feel like home to you this time of year. Is it something from another place and another time like mine? Or is it something more contemporary? Read more . . .

Advent Photo-a-Day

If you are online at all, we’re also going to try a little photographic meditation. Take a photo and post it on the church Facebook page and any other favorite social media platform with the hashtag #rethinkchurch or #redpoinsettias and we’ll be sure to feature them in the Midweek Message and the church bulletin. You’ll see here that each day of December has a theme! It has the potential to be fun and beautiful.

See our blog for updates.

Advent Calendar


Bible Study is held on Tuesdays at 10:30 AM at the Terraces of Los Altos at Janet Maxwell’s apartment. The address is 373 Pine Lane, #2106, Los Altos. Anyone interested in studying the lectionary texts for the following Sunday is invited to attend.  Let Pastor Rick know if you need transportation.

Bible Study will be on hiatus until Tuesday, January 7.


The Church Choir meets Thursdays at 7:30 pm in the Parlor.

upcoming church meetings


“Come, Let Us Go Up to the Mountain of the Lord,
to the House of God…”  Isaiah 2:3

Saturday, November 30
9:00 AM Hanging of the Greens - decorating the church for children, youth and adults

Sunday, December 1
Let Us Build a House where Love Can Dwell and Safely Live
10 AM Worship and Sunday School for Children and Youth
11:30 AM Adult Spiritual Formation:
Moods of Christmas, Howard Thurman

Sunday, December 8
Let Us Build a House where Prophets Speak
and Words Are Strong and True

10 AM Worship and Sunday School for Children and Youth
11:30 AM Adult Spiritual Formation:
Tracks in the Straw, Ted Loder
1:30 to 4:30 PM All Church Holiday Open House
at the Spiridons, 2047 Edgewood Drive, Palo Alto

Friday, December 13
7:00 PM iSing Girl Choir: “Be the Joy”
A festive concert of holiday favorites from around the world

Sunday, December 15
Let Us Build a House where Hands Will Reach
Beyond the Wood and Stone

10 AM Worship and Sunday School for Children and Youth
11:30 AM Adult Spiritual Formation:
Kneeling in Bethlehem, Ann Weems
4:00 PM Christmas Caroling and Chili Supper
Singing songs of the season to friends and neighbors

Sunday, December 22
Let Us Build a House where All Are Named,
their Songs and Visions Heard

10 AM Worship and Sunday School for Children and Youth
11:30 AM Christmas Brunch and Pageant -
bring finger food to share

Tuesday, December 24
5:30 PM Christmas Eve Service
A brief service of candles and carols for the family

Sunday, December 29
Christmas Continues
10 AM Worship for the family

Sunday, January 5
Have you Seen the Star?
10 AM Worship for the family


Every first and third Wednesday, 8:00 am, at Hobee’s Restaurant, 4224 El Camino Real, Palo Alto. All the men from our church family are welcome.

december mission offering:
"Thank you" offering

The SPECIAL MISSION OFFERING FOR DECEMBER is our annual thank you offering for retired ministers and missionaries.  This year’s theme is “Thank You for…” all the myriad ways in which these folk have served Christ’s church in every corner of the globe.  We give in gratitude for the years of sacrificial service that many of these leaders have provided, often at very low levels of income.  It is a way of saying “thank you” for the blessings they have brought to the church and our lives. 

We have received $521 toward our goal of $750.


Senior chat is a community of people from varying churches and organizations in Palo Alto. We meet once a month, on the Second Friday, at 10:00. The Fireside Room of Covenant Presbyterian Church (670 E. Meadow, Palo Alto) is where we convene to learn new ideas, share friendship, have light snack and a light exercise. Please join us. We are open to all ages, if the presentation subject is of interest. No RSVP is necessary.

For information call Rev. Dona Smith-Powers, Coordinator,
650-494- 3093.

neighborhood news

An Opportunity sent to us by Old Palo Alto Neighborhood Association (OPANA) urges everyone to sign up on the Santa Clara County AlertSCC system with cell phone numbers, e-mail addresses as well as any unlisted land line numbers. The AlertSCC provides local and regional law enforcement and safety personnel the capability to notify the public of an emergency or other event. It uses Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology for cell and landlines, as well as email and text messages.

Register your cell phone at Charles Cullen, Technical Services Director Palo Alto Police Department 275 Forest Ave , Palo Alto, CA 94301 Ph: 650-329-2331 Cell: 650-743-9943


Check the latest news updates from our wider American Baptist family at the ABC/USA website.




hospice volunteers needed

Have you received hope, comfort, and love at a time in your life when you have needed it most? Do you feel it's time to pass on to others the blessings you have received?

There are hospice patients in your area that would benefit greatly from your companionship and encouragement. As a VITAS volunteer you would be trained in how to work with hospice patients and their families. Your assignments would suit your schedule and your location.

Find out more about our amazing team of VITAS volunteers by calling Steve Maraccini at VITAS Innovative Hospice Care of SF Bay Area at 650-650-1835.

interfaith volunteers Needed

The Spiritual Care Service at Stanford Hospital and Clinics has a great need for Interfaith Volunteers to visit with patients and families. These volunteers will be given 8 training sessions – 5 classroom sessions and 3 mentoring sessions - each lasting 2 hours. Once training is complete, the volunteers should be willing and able to commit 2 hours a week for at least a year.

In addition there also volunteer opportunities in the No One Dies Alone Program and the Advanced Directive Preparedness Program. Please call (650) 723-5101 for an application. More information on the church bulletin board.

Peninsula Peace
and Justice Center

If you would like to know more about programs relating to peace and justice issues locally, you may sign for a mailing list at:

Mission Prayer Call

You may join a mailing list to receive a weekly prayer call for missionaries which is available at: GlobalPrayerCall.


is a service of the Palo Alto City Library that provides a visit and delivery of materials to people who cannot get to the library because of an extended illness or long-term disability. The Library is seeking two things – individuals who could use this service, and individuals who would like to volunteer. For more information contact: Anita Delaney, Volunteer and Connection Coordinator, (650) 617-3100 ext. 3215 or


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