“Happy Birthday, All Saints! You are living to a ripe old age.”
So began Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves’ sermon at an afternoon Evensong service on Sunday, October 29, 2017, celebrating the 125th year of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Palo Alto. Her remarks called back to All Saints’ rich legacy and an equally exciting future, with legacies yet to be forged in what she called these “interesting times.”
She led worship with The Rev. Terry Gleeson, rector of All Saints’, joined by several former rectors of the parish, a glorious choir, and a packed house of joyous parishioners. The moving service was followed by a grand party in the parish hall, with speeches by Gleeson and others accompanied by state and county proclamations and of course, food and drink.
“As at every stage in our past, we are still striving to create households where integrity and justice and honesty and generosity and fidelity are nurtured and protected for another generation,” said Gleeson in his remarks. “Curiously, who we are striving to become is what we have always been. And in that lies our hope.”
Earlier that fall, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church celebrated its 150th birthday on Sunday, September 10 with a commemorative ribbon-cutting and block party following morning worship with Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves. The day included Taiko drummers and a local band, food, speeches, tours, and of course a birthday cake.
During the afternoon, parishioner Lee Hollister chauffeured Bishop Mary and The Rev. Ian Delinger, St. Stephen’s rector, in his vintage Model A. The entourage visited a local Methodist church across town, whose congregation was also celebrating their 150th anniversary!
The first Protestant church in San Luis Obispo County, St. Stephen’s has come a long way since a lot was purchased at the corner of Pismo and Nipomo Streets for the sum of $10. The original 20-foot by 60-foot church was built at a total cost of about $3,000. Expansion quickly followed; despite a devastating fire in 1970, the congregation has endured and continues its mission to “share Christ’s unconditional love with the world.”