As many of you have been hearing in the wind and blatant vague-booking, a big change for the RCP Family was a-coming. At last, we can fully share our news! This past Sunday, the congregation of First Presbyterian Church, Palo Alto unanimously voted to call me as the next Pastor and Head of Staff.

The day was filled with hospitality and excitement, but the best part may have been the pause that Robin gave the chairs of the search committee when we were given the vote count and were asked, “Do you accept this call.” Robin has jokes. Well played honey. Well. Played.

My first day in the office will be April 1, 2019 and my first Sunday will be April 7th. More shocking to many of you, I’m sure, is that after 30 years living in San Francisco, we are leaving The City and moving to Palo Alto. The church has a manse (housing provided by the church) which means we are able to move to Palo Alto and still be able to eat. The church will be doing work on the manse, so I will commute for a few months before we make a move in late May or early June.

As you can imagine this has been a time of excitement and exhilaration as well as a time of stress and anxiety. Eldest graduates from college and Middle heads to college in Fall, but also Youngest will change schools, Robin will have to begin commuting next Fall, and we have taken in Robin’s dad’s dog, Bernie, to make us a three-canine home.

Just a FEW things going on in our life. Mostly positive, but still. Whew.

Many have asked me, “Why now, why there?” First, nothing was pushing me away from what I have been doing. My calendar was full, we were financially secure, my travels were just about right, and I could build my time around watching my girls on the pitch. That said, as I had been reflecting on turning 50, I began feeling the urge back to being rooted in a community for one more call. I was engaged in a few processes, but eventually, it became clear that Palo Alto and I were discerning common passions, areas for mutual challenge and growth, and a spirit-lead movement towards one another.

As it turns out, this position is 3/4 time which means that I will still get to coach, write, podcast, and speak — just not as much as I have in past. The position is also “designated” so we have four years to do some work together and then see if our future should be long-term. All of this means that my schedule is still be generally flexible, there is a mandate to get to work, and I get to ground myself in a community. I am so excited to begin getting to know a new community, a new city, and eventually a new home. In fact, if you know Palo Alto, please feel free to to help us get settled!

A little bit about First Presbyterian Church, Palo Alto and why we have discerned a common calling to one another:

  • First Presbyterian Church, Palo Alto (FPCPA) is well, in Palo Alto, where, apparently, this warm, shiny, yellow ball often pops up in the sky and it allows people to be outside without jackets. Weird 🙂
  • The church campus and surrounding area is beautiful. After living in a city for so long, I have found myself surprisingly at ease and relaxed being back in a setting much like my suburban Sacramento early years. We will def miss San Francisco, but honestly, it’s not the same place that it used to be.
  • FPCPA embraces the convergence of faith and politics and unapologetically understandings itself as a community that is committed to social justice. So rather than spend energy on if or why our faith compels us to be a presence of justice in the world, we get to spend that energy on actually doing the ministry of justice, equity, and love.
  • FPCPA and I hold many of the same passions. Not only is FPCPA a sanctuary church with an extremely active Cool Planet Working Group, but there is a burgeoning youth group, the young adult group is taking root, and the list of social justice commitments is exciting. It is also pretty cool that FPCPA is a More Light Presbyterians congregation (I’m on the Board of MLP) as well as a Peace Church with Presbyterian Peace Fellowship (Robin and I are part of the Activist Council).
  • FPCPA has the resources to do good work in the world. The skill sets, leadership capabilities, and overall financial health bode well for faithful risk-taking and great social impact.
  • I get to work with a multiple staff team again and the FPCPA staff have been wonderful to get to know a bit. I am particularly excited to work with the Associate Pastor, Rev. Annanda Barclay, who is very cool. Some of you know her, so you know we are going to be getting into some good trouble here! And let’s just acknowledge that this mostly-white congregation has two pastors who are both of color. This is not an insignificant act and calling of faith.
  • Like many churches, it has declined in worship attendance over the past years, but the community seems to have renewed sense of “new beginnings” and, if you know me, I have always believed that faith lived and communicated well will draw people into community engagement. Yes, I think we can grow the church in impact, faith, and body!

Like any community that has gone through transitions and is seriously thinking about its future, there will be much work to do and many conversations to have about a great many things, but I am excited to simply be people’s pastor again. Worshipping, serving, and being present with people through the rhythms and seasons of life as individuals and community feeds my soul.

If you feel so called, here are a few ways to stay connected to FPCPA.

As this is being made public, I must first thank my family who has been so supportive as I have been part of this “gig economy” thing the past 8 years. This is a huge change they agreeing to in order to support my ministry — my appreciation and love cannot be measured. I also want to thank the community of Broadmoor Presbyterian Church for whom, I have been their Interim Pastor for the past 18 months. BPC, while also discerning their future has reminded me in so many what it means to a pastor. And my last thanks goes to The Center for Progressive Renewal with whom I have been a coach/consultant for the past 7 years and the Director of Coaching since 2017. While I will still be a Senior Coach with CPR, I will no longer be part of the Staff Team. I will not miss the early morning video conference calls, but I will miss working with this feisty and faithful gathering of staff, coaches, and consultants.

As you can imagine, the level of stress in our house depends on the day and the person so we covet your prayers, thoughts, and check-ins. Please feel free to connect as you always have. All of my contact info will remain the same and I will also have a new church email: breyeschow at fprespa dot org if you want to connect there.

And if you ever find yourself in Palo Alto, please do try to connect as I will welcome any excuse to get to know our new town a bit better, plus — Philz.