What’s Up October 2020

October 2020, Volume 3, Issue 10

In this issue, read about:

Social Justice Ministry

Accompaniment Team Update

Formal accompaniment of our Guatemalan father and son ended on August 31st, when Kelly, our liaison from Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity (IM4HI), led a final Zoom team meeting, which Tereso was able to attend. We also we got a glimpse of his son, who is now 12 and has grown a lot! NOTE: Tereso is in the top right of the photo below and Maria Marroquin of the Day Worker Center is in the lower right. 

On that day, Oscar Rosenbloom delivered a final $300 payment from the congregation, and Holly Brady arranged for a $500 VISA debit card to be mailed to Tereso, courtesy of a local nonprofit. Since Tereso recently moved from his shared apartment into a trailer, Melissa Kirven and others donated some household goods for him. Because the trailer has no electricity, IM4HI contributed another $500 so that he can buy a generator, and Carol Beaumont donated a carbon-monoxide detector, translating the directions pamphlet into Spanish. 

We explained to Tereso how to keep working directly with his legal team as they prepare his asylum appeal (which has been fully paid for by FPCPA donations), and Pat Kinney and Gail Thompson offered occasional help, such as if he needs help getting to San Francisco for a court date. Tereso has found some work, but nothing like the number of hours he was working last winter. 

Tereso continues to express profound thanks for our team, as he did in a video that was shared at the September 6thworship service. For those of us on the Accompaniment Team, the experience has been intense, and we are not currently thinking of taking on another family. We may introduce other IM4HI projects to the congregation, such as the Friends Afuera program, which involves writing to people in ICE Detention Centers. Stay tuned.

Get-Out-the-Vote Campaign Produces 3,500 Letters

Led by Melissa Kirven and Pat Kinney, our congregation has written 3,500 letters to get out the vote this November. They have ended this formal campaign, but you can still print out your own letters. Here are instructions: www.sites.google.com/view/swingleftpeninsula/write-letters-at-home. If you are interested in texting or phone banking, that is still needed. For more information, contact Melissa or Pat.

Coming Up: October 18th Crop Walk

Crop Walk is a national program to raise funds to fight hunger—something particularly important in this economy-ravaged time. This year’s Crop Walk will be either a “virtual” walk or a socially-distanced walk (details to come). Of the funds raised, 25 percent will go to local nonprofits, including Ecumenical Hunger Project of East Palo Alto; and the remainder to national hunger projects. To sign up to walk, to support a walker, or to donate to the team, go to bit.ly/1PresPA20CROP. Here’s last year’s team:

FPCPA Begins Year-Long Antiracism Effort

At its September meeting, the Social Justice Ministry (SJM) presented to Session a proposal that the church spend significant time this year focusing on antiracism—and to use Crossroads Antiracism Organizing and Training, a nonprofit identified by our Presbytery, to guide us. Crossroads’ mission is to “dismantle racism, and to build racial justice in institutions.” 

An exploratory Task Force has been formed to flesh out details. Current members include Dave Thornton, Leif Erickson, Gail Thompson and Holly Brady. We hope to expand the Task Force to include non-SJM members. If you are interested in joining, please contact pastor Bruce.

The rationale for this project has been set forth as follows:

Over our history, First Pres has claimed the mantle of being an anti-war, More Light, sanctuary, EarthCare, and Peace church, despite the fact that congregational buy-in and understanding of these concepts varies from person to person. 

With the current state of racial awareness in our society, we see an opportunity for First Pres to take the lead once again. Much like becoming open and affirming to LGBTQIA+ people, becoming antiracist will force us to change the ways in which we engage in life together, and challenge us to explore the ways in which white supremacy thinking has informed the culture, structures, and practices in our church.

The importance of taking this on now is crucial to the future of our community. Our intent is not to become antiracist as a tactic for growth and survival, but to create a space where people from diverse backgrounds will find a community that is antiracist at all levels of its congregational life.

Holly Brady and Pat Kinney

Electric Vehicle Chargers Coming to First Pres

At its September meeting, Session authorized filing of initial permit applications for installation of up to 23 Electric Vehicle (EV) chargers in the Lincoln and Kingsley parking lots. In taking this action, Session accepted a preliminary recommendation of the EV Chargers/Solar Working Group, who have undertaken this project at Session’s direction. The Working Group includes Margaret Rosenbloom, Paul Jones, Trish Hallenbeck, and Janet Cox.

Should Session approve a final installation contract, we hope to have 13 chargers installed in the Lincoln Avenue parking lot by late spring 2021, and 10 chargers in the Kingsley Avenue parking lot by early 2022, at no cost to our community.

The Working Group has selected PowerFlex (www.powerflex.com) as the vendor for the proposed work. PowerFlex is a Los Altos-based company that provides turnkey charger deployment services, covering planning, permitting, installing, and maintaining the chargers. PowerFlex’s proprietary technology and software enhances the chargers’ energy efficiency, while monitoring overall electric demand on our campus and reducing power to the EV chargers when our demand for heating or air conditioning warrants.

PowerFlex has installed larger arrays of chargers at several school district sites, including Palo Alto and Los Altos, Temple Kol Emeth, and has just signed an agreement to install chargers in the City of Palo Alto garages.

How is it possible for PowerFlex to provide 23 chargers to the church at no cost to us? At the Session meeting, George Lee, PowerFlex CEO, explained that by using (1) the generous rebates from the Palo Alto City Utilities Department (subsidized by the state Air Resources Board through the Bay Area Air Quality Management District) and (2) carbon credits through California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standards program, PowerFlex can install and maintain the chargers for the duration of a 10-year contract at no cost to the church.

George Lee’s presentation to Session, including questions and answers, is available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSgr4cY-wmQ&feature=youtu.be. The EV Charger Working Group will host a conversation to discuss this project in late October. Stay tuned for details.

The next step for the Working Group is to negotiate and present to Session the final contract with PowerFlex. Issues to be clarified include the operational impact of the PowerFlex charger system on overall electric needs and establishing guidelines for user access.

Margaret Rosenbloom

Musical Notes

On Homecoming Sunday, September 13, the choir, along with six non-choir members, presented the virtual anthem We Are Not Alone by Pepper Choplin. This was our second attempt at a virtual anthem and was a great success! These choir videos really are a group effort – I’d like to thank all the participants for making their individual recordings, Martha Losch and Tom Ellison for the solos, and extra thanks to Karen Huddleston for editing and producing the final video. You can hear it at www.youtube.com/watch?v=esqM-IEjF-U

As we look ahead to Christmas, the choir and I are planning two virtual anthems that will be presented at the Christmas Eve Service. The two anthems will be Still, Still, Still, and another fun one, still to be decided. Christmas is my favorite time of year for music. I invite you all to consider singing for one or both of the Christmas anthems. As of now three new singers have signed up to sing, so let’s see if we can make it ten or more! To make it less intimidating for new singers, you have the option to be assigned a “choir buddy” to help you with every step of the recording process – from learning the music, to recording the song, and then to submitting your video. Please contact me at andy@fpcpaloalto.org if you are interested in participating. 

I was happy to hear from Emily Brewer of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship a few days ago. She wrote to say that the First Pres Choir’s first anthem, You Turn Mourning into Dancing, will be used at the annual Barstow-Driver Award dinner, which will be held at 4pm PST on October 8, recognizing Rev. Dr. Linda Eastwood for her work in Human Rights Accompaniment in Latin America. The keynote speaker will be Perla del Angel, who is one of the accompaniment partners on the border. They would love for us to join them. Register atwww.presbypeacefellowship.org/bd2020/.

Andy Chislett

In Memoriam: Ella Kikuchi

Born and raised in Hawaii, Ella Y. Kikuchi studied and taught in Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, and Santa Barbara. She and her husband, Tom, had one son, Derrick. In 2011, Ella made the last big move of her life, moving to the senior community of Channing House in Palo Alto. As Ella did with any change in her life, she poured herself into her new community, and also became part of the life of First Presbyterian Church. Her greatest gifts were her warmth, her inquisitive nature, and nearly photographic memory. 

After a series of falls, Ella passed away on August 12, 2020, at the age of 90. Her full obituary can be viewed at: 


A celebration of her life was held over Zoom on September 14, and can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=zV9XDC3RGzQ&feature=youtu.be.

In Memoriam: Charles Drekmeier

Charles Drekmeier was born in Beloit, Wisconsin, and earned degrees at the University of Wisconsin, Columbia University and Harvard University. He and his wife, Margot, moved to Palo Alto in 1958 to join the faculty at Stanford.

Charles was known for his creativity, intellectual curiosity, and liberal politics. For 23 years, Charles and Margot co-led an honors seminar (meeting at their home) called Social Thought and Institutions, and they were beloved by their students. They raised their three children, Nadja, Peter and Kai, in Palo Alto and at First Presbyterian Church. A lifelong lover of classical music and opera, Charles also played flute with the Palo Alto Symphonic Band.

Charles died at home on August 25, 2020, just shy of his 93rd birthday. An online memorial was held on September 19.

His family has created a website, www.drekmeier.org, that contains a full obituary, his memoir and an oral history.