“Strangers In A Strange Land”
by Rob Martin
A sermon by Pastor Rob Martin....Download
The Reverend Rob Martin
650.325.5659, ext. 102
In the office Sunday, Tuesday-Friday
Rob Martin has served as Senior Pastor / Head of Staff at First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto for the past 10 years. Prior to coming to First Pres, Rob served as both the Chaplain for Warren Wilson College and as Senior Pastor of the Warren Wilson Presbyterian Church located in Asheville, North Carolina. He has also served as a pastor in inner-city New Orleans, Louisiana, where he was the founder of the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network and in Denver, Colorado, where he staffed Capitol Hill United Ministries—a coalition of 13 cross-denominational churches united in mission.
Rob did his undergraduate studies at St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, North Carolina, where he completed a double major in Creative Writing and Marxian Political Analysis. He also holds a Master of Divinity degree from San Francisco Theological Seminary where he served as an Urban Ministry Scholar and was the recipient of the Martin Kneeling Excellence in Preaching Award given by the SFTS Faculty.
Rob is married to Do Martin—a gifted liturgical artist—and they have two adult children: Bobby Martin who is the Buyer for Palo Alto Bicycles, and Cali Lee Martin who is a Facilities Manager for eBay.
In a recent Prompting to the congregation, Rob made the following observation about our community of faith:
It is my deepest hope that people outside our doors will come and see—will truly come and see this blessed place where it doesn’t matter if you are gay or straight, bi-sexual or transgendered—for you are still welcomed—open-armed—into Christ’s community! How I wish that people will come and see—come and see children, and young adults, and the elderly honestly grappling with the gray areas of faith—what it means to really live justly, and equitably, and peacefully as followers of the one who fully embodied God’s abundant love and abiding grace. How I wish that people will come and see—will truly come and see how Presbyterian we really are—for we uphold the Presbyterian belief that the biblical vision of doing justice calls us to deal honestly in personal and public business, calls us to exercise power for the common good, calls us to support people who seek the dignity, freedom, and respect they have been denied, calls us to work for fair laws and just administration of the law, calls us to welcome the stranger in the land, calls us to overcome the disparity between rich and poor, calls us to bear witness against political oppression and exploitation, and calls us to redress wrongs against individuals, groups, and peoples in the church, in this nation, and in the whole world!
And for my more conservative colleagues in ministry who claim that nothing good can come out of a progressive church like ours, all I have to say is, “YES it can—for all you have to do is come and see!”
Director of Music
650-325-5659, ext. 107
In the office Sunday, Tuesday-Thursday
Originally from Yorkshire, England, Andrew moved to the United States at the age of sixteen and is now delighted to be the Director of Music at First Presbyterian Church, a position he started in June 2012. He graduated from Indiana University’s School of music in May 2010 with a doctorate in music in organ performance and literature. While studying at Indiana University, Andrew learned all the skills to be a proficient church musician and, during his studies, served as organist and choir director at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Franklin, IN. He has also lived in Seattle and served as organist and pianist at St. Joseph Church and School, a Jesuit parish, for five years.
Andrew is also an accomplished pianist and earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in piano performance from the Manhattan School of Music, New York City. As a performer, he has given numerous solo recitals in both organ and piano, especially while living in New York, Seattle and Indiana. As a pianist, he gave his New York debut at Carnegie Hall in 2002. Among his recent accomplishments, Andrew was organist for the First Lutheran Church, Palo Alto, performances of Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Fauré’s Requiem and also performed solo organ recitals at First Lutheran Church and St. Mary’s Cathedral, San Francisco. In his spare time Andrew enjoys the outdoors and exploring the Bay Area with his wife Issa.
Director of Communal Care
Kathy Merkle-Raymond joined First Pres staff as Director of Communal Care in June 2015. In this role, Kathy visits members of the church community who are unable to attend worship, are recovering from medical or surgical care, or are dealing with life issues that impact faith, mental health or emotional wellness. In visitation, Kathy often brings the family dog, Cody, who is also trained in service care.
Kathy’s professional background in Physical Therapy and Finance has prepared her for ministering to our members, discerning needs, and helping to coordinate services that are provided by friends in our congregation, as well as agencies in the wider community. Kathy and her wife, Lee, have been members of First Pres since 1993 when they moved from Boston to Palo Alto. They are proud moms of two awesome daughters, Alex (college) and Nikki (high school).
650-325-5659, ext. 108
Annanda Barclay is a candidate for ordained ministry under the care of Central Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas, Mission Presbytery, Synod of the Sun. She obtained her M.Div. at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She is a Fund for Theological Education Ministry Fellow. Over the past year she has been a Youth Ministry Assistant at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, IL. After graduating seminary Annanda spent a year as a student chaplain at University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center. Her services to the Church and denomination include being Co-Moderator of the national board of directors for More Light Presbyterians, and an occasional blogger for Believe Out Loud. She serves and works with various groups to strategically advocate for intersectional justice, love and kindness. Annanda has a deep reverence for God’s grace made manifest in how we love and honor our selves and God’s creations. She is very excited to be a part of the beloved church family of First Pres Palo Alto! She enjoys pilgriming about life, nerding out on eco-housing, going to concerts, film, food, and finding the Divine in the outdoors, strangers, friends, family, and her beloved dog Wes. She also enjoys a good old fashioned hootenanny.
650-325-5659, ext. 100
In the office Monday-Friday
It’s all about people for Sarah. For as long as she can remember, she’s been curious about people and what makes them tick, so it’s no surprise that she ended up studying cultural anthropology, both as an undergraduate and a graduate student at San Jose State University. Now that she has her M.A., she’s not sure she’s much closer to figuring it all out, but she remains deeply interested in people, and the complex strands of personal connections that form the fabric of community and culture. She’s happiest when she’s working alongside a team of committed, caring people, and can build those personal connections.
As one long-time member of First Pres recently remarked, working as the office administrator here may be in the genes for Sarah. The daughter of First Pres members Jim and Frances Young, she and her brother David and sister Margaret grew up in this congregation. Some of her earliest memories are of the nursery at First Pres, singing in the Girls Choir, and the excitement and wonder of Christmas Eve and Easter services led by George Wilson. Returning to the warm embrace of this congregation as church administrator has felt a bit like coming home.
Sarah lives in the neighborhood, where you might see her gardening in her front yard or returning from a bike ride up in the hills of Woodside with her husband Dave.
As a Methodist Michigander, Jule was married into First Pres with Peter Barney in October of 1966. He had been a member since the mid-1950s, and they were married almost 34 years before Peter’s death. Julie has been part of various committees over the last 40 years, including membership and two Mission Study Task Forces in preparation for calling two new pastors. She has been the Pledge & Gift Accountant since 1994 and prides herself as one of the congregants with a “church memory.” She is committed to the natural beauty of her transplanted home and First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto.
As the church’s main volunteer receptionist, Frances is the welcoming face that greets most visitors three mornings a week. Frances and her husband Jim moved to Palo Alto in 1963 and joined First Presbyterian Church in 1964, beginning an active life within the church community serving as choir member, elder, church school teacher, deacon and member of various committees. Their children–Margaret, Sarah and David–all attended church school and the youth group. All these opportunities were important gifts from the members of this church family. Now she gives back to the church, working with a fun, dedicated, talented and loving staff and helping make First Presbyterian Church a more welcoming community of faith.
Kaela was raised in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and lived there for 23 years before moving to California in 1976 (mostly to get away from the cold). She has since become a U.S. citizen.
Her bookkeeping career started in 1986 when she took bookkeeping classes through Adult Education in Petaluma, CA. She went on to take various accounting classes at Santa Rosa Junior College and started working full-time in Novato, CA. Then she started her own bookkeeping business in and around Sebastopol taking on small jobs. When she moved to Palo Alto in May 1999, she took on a part-time job at First Presbyterian Church where she has been ever since!
Kaela enjoys International Folk Dancing and teaches several times per year, mostly at Stanford International Folk Dancers in Mountain View. She also enjoys the outdoors by bicycling and hiking.
Her immediate family includes her husband, Paul, and his two daughters, Lara and Natalie. She has a twin sister, Brenda, who lives in northern Idaho, a brother, Philip, in Montreal and a brother, Barry, who resides partly in Montreal and partly in Chisasibi, northern Quebec.
Javier was born in Veracruz, Mexico in 1980. His family was very poor so he was only able to go to school until he was 13 years old. That year he was given his first pair of shoes so that he could work with the grownups. In the mornings he worked for their bosses and in the afternoons he helped cultivate the little plot of land that they let his family use. As a child living in a tiny cardboard shack, he dreamt of one day owning a nice solid house with its own yard, so when one of his brothers decided to make the trip north to the United States, Javier asked to come along, even though he was only 17. It was a difficult journey and an even harder transition to make once he got here and everything was new and different, especially the language.
He worked for three months in a carwash before getting a job as a dishwasher in a restaurant. Javier used his free time to help the cooks, who taught him how to be a prep cook. When that job opened up he was promoted to work the grill with a guy whose cousin introduced him to his future wife, Rosa. It was while he was hanging out and trying to impress Rosa that he met and hit it off with Ozzie Osborne, a good and friendly man who taught him the art of gardening. When Rosa was offered the janitorial post here at First Pres, Javier came along to help her out and little by little wear down her resistance to his marriage proposal (she said he was too young for her!). It worked, and they were married on the anniversary of their first encounter, on March 6, 2001. Since that was also the year they became independent contractors with the church as one of their clients, they decided it was a good time for Javier to get his Green Card and start the process of becoming a U.S. citizen. In 2007 he became a citizen, and in 2008 he accepted the full-time job as sexton/custodian here at First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto.