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PCBA Notes – Fall 2018

8.2 Fall – E-Version Download the pdf version


Published by Pacific Coast Baptist Association

Fall, 2018                                                                                                                              Vol. 8, No.2

San Jose to Host Evergreen Annual Meeting

Oct. 12-13 – Grace Baptist Church

“Yes, We Will!” is the theme of the Annual Meeting of the Evergreen Baptist Association to be held at the Grace Baptist Church of San Jose.  The meeting will begin with lunch on Friday October 12 and conclude with a service on Saturday evening when Douglas Avilesbernal will be installed as Executive Minister.  Mr. Avilesbernal has been actively involved with matters of diversity, including the creation of an immersion program for young adults which involves participation in different cultures around the world for one month at a time.  As pastor in the Philadelphia area, he worked with the Montgomery County Commissioners in advising and over-seeing resources in ways to take diversity issues into account. He is the author of Welcoming Community: Diversity that Works, and has presented the TED talk, “Tolerance, the End of the Beginning.”  

The guest speaker for the meeting will be Zina Jacque, founder of the counseling and training center at Trinity Church, Boston, a center which has become a leader in providing service to under-served communities.  The meeting will include table conversations on several significant issues.

Registration may be made at local congregations or online at www.ea-abc.org/annual-meeting.html.  

Grace Baptist is located at 484 East San Fernando Street.

Confronting Gun Violence

The Second in a Series of “Justice Jams” – Wed. Oct. 3 – 6:30 to 8:00 PM

Gun violence will be addressed by local community, political, and religious leaders in a public “Justice Jam” on Wednesday, October 3, from 6:30-8:00 PM at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, 3534 Lakeshore Avenue in Oakland.  An earlier “Justice Jam” on the issue of homelessness brought concerned leaders in the community together to gain factual information about local homelessness and strategies for addressing it.

The October Jam will provide information about the realities of gun violence in Oakland and what is being done (and can be done) regarding prevention and gun control.

Brief Notes

Another “Space for Grace” – Following on the success of a recent urban retreat developed by the American Baptist Home Mission Societies, called “Space for Grace,” another has been announced for November 14-16 in Philadelphia.  Grace, reflection, refreshment, and renewal will figure in the event. Leaders known to PCBA will be among those contributing, including, Lauren Ng, ABHMS network strategist; Molly Marshall, President of Central Baptist Seminary; and Amy Butler, Senior Minister of the Riverside Church, New York City.  An online video invitation from Jeffrey Haggray, Executive Director of the Home Mission Societies, may be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdzXxZ0ALEI&feature=youtu.be.

BFHP – The community meal offered by the Berkeley Food and Housing Project, one of PCBA’s mission commitments, is the longest running meal of its kind in the city.  The agency began in 1970 as a meal, and 48 years later the meal is still at the heart of what it does to help people in the community overcome hunger and homelessness.  Terrie Light, Executive Director, says, “We see it not just as food, but as a potential point of entry on the path to permanent housing,”

McGee Avenue’s 100th – The McGee Avenue Baptist Church will celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of its founding in September.  A highlight event will be a banquet on Saturday, September 22, and a service of celebration will be observed on Sunday morning September 16.  Michael Smith is Pastor of the congregation. Information is available at 510.843.1774.

Books to the Philippines – Another shipment of theological books was sent this summer to the College of Theology at Central Philippine University.  This shipment followed the new plan of the Association in which shipment costs for individuals wishing to contribute books is supplied by PCBA.  Since its inception more than 15 years ago, the program has now shipped over 10,000 volumes. For information: 510.483.6836.

Great Music Honored –  The highly-regarded “Chichester Psalms,” of Leonard Bernstein formed the centerpiece of worship at Berkeley First Baptist Church on August 26, reflecting the one hundredth birthday of this significant composer.  A record-ing made by Bernstein with a chorus from Poland was used. The work provides settings for parts of six well known psalms.

Pilate’s Sardonic Question

Comments by the Editor, Dale Edmondson

When Pilate asked, “What is truth?,” I sense it was not a sincere inquiry but rather a sardonic utterance, meaning, “How can anyone know what’s really true?”

What leads one to such a nihilistic perspective?  Is it the spawning of demonstrable falsehoods, contrived lies promulgated to shape public opinion for a certain cause?  George Orwell had seen the results of propaganda created by a popular Führer in support of profound evil. In his novel, 1984, Orwell wrote about a government with a Ministry of Truth housed in a building displaying three slogans: “War is Peace,” “Freedom is Slavery,” and “Ignorance is Strength.”  Part of the Ministry’s purpose was to rewrite history and to change the facts to fit the Administration’s doctrine.

How is one to navigate his or her life or how are life-sustaining institutions to be maintained in an environment where there are “alternative facts?”  Where there is no trustworthy mooring? No dependable center? A new word added to the dictionaries of the Oxford University Press two years ago was the word, “Post-Truth.”  It’s defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” What are responsible citizens to think when, for example, they hear a widely-circulated report that vaccinations cause autism, or that the Sandy Hook shooting was an elaborate hoax staged by the government to promote gun control, or that the former Secretary of State was involved in a child-trafficking scheme operating out of a Washington D.C. pizza restaurant?  Disturbingly, research has shown we put up little resistance to deceptions that please us and comfort us, and that when we are fed falsehoods by people of wealth and power they appear easier to accept.

Perhaps even more insidious than being confused by conflicting “facts” is the mentality I find in Pilate–i.e., that there is really no way we can any longer know what is true.  The musicologist, Leslie Spellman, once commented about the use of the symphonic cymbal. He said the cymbal is of “indefinite pitch,” and when used alone it can wipe out any sense of key.  (You hear it and your ear no longer remembers the key you were in.) I am concerned we’re being subjected to such a cacophony of ideological cymbals, that even well-meaning people may say, “There’s no longer any way to know what to believe.”  I’ve never been more thankful for the New York Times, National Public Radio, the Wall Street Journal, and other responsible sources of news.  They are guardians of our life and freedom–far from being “enemies of the people.”


PCBA lost two of its leaders in June.  Alice Edmondson, the Association’s President, died on June 8 at the age of 82 while undergoing treatment for cancer.  An educator, she had taught public school in Missouri, Arizona, California, and Minnesota in a career that spanned four decades.  She was active in the work of American Baptists including a ministry to the wives of graduate students at the University of California, Berkeley.  In addition to working in congregations where her husband was pastor, she served in retirement as President of the` Seafarers Ministry of the Golden Gate and as a visiting faculty member at Central Philippine University.  She leaves her husband, Dale Edmondson; children, Eric and Karen; and 15 grandchildren.

Andy (D. Andrew) Kille, PCBA’s Webmaster, died on June 30, also to cancer.  He has been described as writer, teacher, editor, musician, minister, biblical scholar, and interfaith activist.  A graduate of both Stanford and American Baptist Seminary of the West, he earlier served as Pastor of the Grace Baptist Church of San Jose.  He was founder and director of Interfaith Space in San Jose; held positions with the Society of Biblical Literature; and edited study resources on the Bible, writing or editing three books and contributing numerous scholarly articles.  He is survived by his wife, Pamela; two sons, Russell and Jabin; and family members.

AN ORDINATION – Paul Schneider of the First Baptist Church of Berkeley is to be ordained on Sunday afternoon, October 14 at 3:00 PM.  Although the ordaining congregation will be the First Baptist Church, the ordination service will be held at the Shell Ridge Community Church of Walnut Creek, 200 La Casa Via.  Paul grew up in the Berkeley church and studied at the American Baptist Seminary of the West. Upon graduation, he was recognized for academic excellence. On August 14 he received unanimous approval for ordination by the ordination council of PCBA churches.  He now serves as Interim Pastor of Burien Community Church in Burien, Washington.

The Pacific Coast Baptist Association,

emphasizing historic Baptist principles, is a group of American Baptist congregations, clergy, and laity in fellowship since 1997.

Members of the Board

Dale Edmondson, Jim Hopkins, Becky Lessler, Phil Meads, Jr., Wendy Neale, Louann Roberts, and Dayle Scott

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PCBA logoThe Pacific Coast Baptist Association embraces a vision for our congregations that is faithful to our American Baptist heritage and principles, by celebrating our diversity through fellowship with one another, by sharing our resources for our common ministries, and by participating in the wider mission of the American Baptist Churches, USA.

Find out more…

Shell Ridge Community Church Walnut Creek and “Feed the Kids”

Shell Ridge Community Church in Walnut Creek has whole heartedly supported “Let’s Feed the Kids,” a Contra Costa County Multi-faith Action Coalition group formed under the Food Security Task Force. Financial donations, paper products, diapers of all sizes, and many hours of volunteer time have been given to this group as they provided families in the Shelter Inc. transitional housing in Pittsburg with food at the end of each month.

Shell Ridge also currently with LFTK provided 16 volunteers and 170 jars of peanut butter and once again financial donations so food could be provided for 277 families from 9 Richmond/San Pablo schools during Winter Break partnering with Temple Beth Hillel. The Winter Break project provided each family with a box of durable foods such as tuna fish, beans, rice, oats, canned chicken, canned fruits and vegetables, pasta, tomato sauce, beef stew and a science game; a second box was full of fresh organic fruits and vegetables. Each family also received a frozen turkey. This food was provided during the holiday break when federal school breakfasts and lunches are not available for the children. No children should be hungry.

Response to California Wildfires

From a Press Notice from American Baptist Home Mission Societies

American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS), on behalf of American Baptist Churches USA,  has released additional One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) Emergency Disaster-response grants in response to the California wildfires.

To aid in recovery from the Southern California fires, ABHMS has released $5,000 to American Baptist Churches of Los Angeles, Southwest and Hawaii (ABCOFLASH). To aid in recovery from the Northern California fires, ABHMS has released $14,000 to CrossWalk Community Church, Napa, and New Vintage Church, Santa Rosa.

On the fires’ first night, CrossWalk—which has been a Red Cross evacuation site for many years—sheltered everyone from those without means to affluent community members and tourists. For the next several weeks, they hosted up to 300 individuals nightly. Continue reading

Grace Baptist Church Serving the Poor and Homeless

As a church, GBC is well experienced in service delivery. For 100 years we have been serving our San Jose community and its needs. We have been active in the work for peace and human rights, and against racism and oppression. We have sided with the poor and their plight, offering them compassion and material resources.

In recent years, GBC has offered bus passes to the needy, a community meal every Sunday after worship, a welcoming attitude toward the homeless, free showers and laundry room service, and a winter emergency shelter for those who sleep on the streets. Continue reading

PCBA NOTES 8.1 (Winter 2018)


Download a pdf version: PCBA NOTES 8.1 (Winter 2018)

Three Bay Area ABC Churches Serving Homeless and Hungry

CrossWalk Community Church of Napa, Grace Baptist Church of San Jose, and Shell Ridge Community Church of Walnut Creek are engaged in special ministries to homeless and hungry people.

For the Napa congregation, it has been the need of the suddenly displaced persons from the Northern California wildfires. On the first night of the fires, CrossWalk, which already was a Red Cross evacuation site, sheltered people who had lost their jobs, their homes and the businesses in which they worked. Hosting up to 300 individuals nightly, they replaced the pews in their sanctuary with cots. Those sheltered included people without means as well as affluent community members and tourists. They continue to provide meals from their kitchen for the displaced.

The San Jose congregation for many years has offered bus passes to the needy, a community meal every Sunday after worship, a welcoming attitude toward the homeless, free showers and laundry room service, and a winter emergency shelter for those who sleep on the streets. They are now responding to the crisis created by the city’s closing of an encampment of homeless people. Forming an interfaith organization, they temporarily housed up to 50 people a night, and subsequently set up a program which included mandatory classes and individual coaching on self-understanding, goal-setting, and empowerment leading to transitional housing,

The basic food needs of children have led the Walnut Creek congregation to join in an
interfaith endeavor called “Feed the Kids.” Sixteen Shell Ridge volunteers have helped provide food for children of 277 families from nine schools as well as other critical family needs during the Winter Break.

PCBA has supported the ministries of these churches. Stories about the congregations
may be read by following links above.


Seafarers Ministry of the Golden Gate
Saturday, March 17
10:00 Breakfast Served; 11:30 Program
$10.00 Donation
International Maritime Center
4001 Seventh Street
Portview Park, Port of Oakland

Open Letter to Scott Pruitt

By the Editor, Dale Edmondson

Dear Mr. Pruitt,

I’m writing to you about my grandchildren and the environment I wish to bequeath to them. You’ve been entrusted, as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, with the care and protection of the natural environment of our nation. Because I know you profess the Christian Faith (and like me stand in the Baptist tradition), you will understand that our world is God’s world and you are accountable ultimately to the God of Creation.

When Mr. Nixon signed the bill creating your agency in 1970, with overwhelming bipartisan support, to “set and enforce standards for air and water quality and for individual pollutants,” he said in doing so we “by conscious choice, transform our land into what we want it to become.” I want that land to be a land–indeed a world–of fresh  air and clear skies and clean water and healthy forests and verdant valleys and wide prairies. I want it to be a land in which my grandchildren’s children can drink tap water without fear of lead poisoning, where they can run relays without polluted air damaging their lungs or causing asthma, where they can surf along our beaches without petroleum clinging to their skin, where they can marvel at glaciers, and plan their lives and build their homes without fear of cataclysmic storms.

Unfortunately, many of your actions run counter to the purpose of the EPA and indeed are destructive of the environment. You have removed or diluted environmental regulations involving methane emissions, pesticide use, clean air and clean water standards; replaced half of the Board of Scientific Counselors with non-scientists who are industry representatives; and lobbied the President to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord despite the overwhelming consensus of the world’s scientists about the human influence on climate change. You’ve removed from EPA’s website previous statements by EPA scientists about climate change and awarded EPA grants to universities and non-profits on the basis of political, rather than scientific, concerns.

Any objective analysis will make clear that the short-term interests of the fossil fuel, chemical, and related industries are served by your actions. I acknowledge that our national economy is heavily dependent of the production of oil and that your policies may be of short-term economic benefit. But what is the long-range consequence? I share the concern of your agency’s first Administrator, William Ruckelshaus, who served under Presidents Nixon and Reagan. He has said, “We’ve spent 40 years putting together an apparatus to protect public health and the environment from a lot of different pollutants. [Mr. Pruitt] is pulling that whole apparatus down.”

I understand you have yet to look forward to grandchildren. When you do, I know you’ll find them a precious gift. I pray that your stewardship of the environment will ensure them, and all of our grandchildren, a place of beauty and well-being.

Brief Notes

Oakland’s Ceasefire Program, hosted by Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church was credited in the January 9 Mercury News for the city’s reduction in violent crime (murders lowest in seventeen years).

Copies of the Inaugural Sermon by ABSW President James Brenneman are available
from the seminary at www.absw.edu or 510.841.1905.

Save the Date for Seafarers Ministry’s Ice Cream Social on Saturday, May 20 at 3:00 PM at the International Maritime Center, 4001 Seventh Street, Port of Oakland.

The Baptist Peace Fellowship Summer Conference will be held July 2-7 at Keuka College, Keuka Park, NY with the theme, Decentering Power and Privilege: Becoming the Stranger.”

Resource material on the themes of peace and justice has been prepared by  the Baptist Peace Fellowship for personal or church use is available free at www.bpfna.org.

Christmas at Sea gifts were distributed by The Seafarers Ministry of the Golden Gate to the crews of 46 different ships before Christmas. These included 945 “Ditty Bags,” among which were hand-knitted scarves and hats from local churches. The program has been headed by retiring Board member, Alodia Corpuz.

For individuals wishing to send books to Central Philippine University’s College of Theology, PCBA provides assistance, although the Association no longer makes these shipments itself. Under the new plan, a new shipment of theological and basic educational books was made in February. For information: Newsletter@pcba.org or 510.483.6836.

Becoming a Sanctuary Church, Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church has voted to undertake steps of advocacy for undocumented residents.

Douglas Avilesbernal, new Executive Minister of Evergreen Baptist Assn, introduces himself in “The Paradox of Beginnings,” at in the February newsletter at  http://www.evergreen-abc.org.


The lives of three leaders in the life of American Baptists in Northern California were celebrated in memorial services in January: Lynn Hunwick, former missionary to India and active member of First Baptist, Palo Alto, on January 13 . . . Don Sheppard, long-time, faithful member of the PCBA Board and Grace Baptist, San Jose on January 20 . . . David Bartlett, former Pastor of Lakeshore Avenue, Oakland, professor of New Testament at ABSW and later Dean of Yale Divinity School on January 27.

Congratulations are extended to Sydney Webster on her ordination, December 16 at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church. She is a hospice chaplain and Minister in Residence at Lakeshore. . . Michael Burch has been called as Interim Pastor of Shell Ridge Community Church, Walnut Creek. He is also Visiting Professor of New Testament at ABSW. . . Jim Hopkins participated in the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC in February . . . Allison Tanner has been engaged to  prepare study guides for the American Baptist Home Mission Society’s forthcoming mission project in New Orleans.

An Exploration Event
The History of American Baptist in Northern California

Saturday, April 7 – 2:00 to 4:00

A significant part of the life of American Baptists in the Bay Area can be traced to the ministry of the historic  First Baptist Church of Oakland, founded in 1855, only a little more than a decade after the first congregation of Baptists was organized in San Francisco. On Saturday, April 7, there will be an opportunity to explore this history through a visit to the impressive history room of that church and enjoy a tour of the building including its sanctuary designed by the noted architect, Julia Morgan. The church is located at 534 Twenty Second Street, at Telegraph Avenue.

The event, arranged in cooperation with the First Chinese Baptist Church of San Francisco, will be hosted by Steve Reimer and Phil Meads, longtime members of the Oakland church. It is planned to be an occasion for fellowship as well as an educational venture. Refreshments are being served by the Semanon Fellowship of First Chinese. Reservations will assist the planners in their work. These may be made at blessler@gmail.com or with the First Chinese Baptist Church, 415-362-4139.


PCBA NOTES 7.2 (Fall 2017)

Download a pdf version: PCBA NOTES 7.2 (Fall 2017)

ABSW Announces Inauguration of President James E. Brenneman

Saturday., October 28 – 2:00 PM

James E. Brenneman will become the new President of American Baptist Seminary of the West. A service of inauguration will be held on Saturday, October 28 at 2:00 PM in the First Church of Christ, Scientist, immediately across the street from the seminary at 2619 Dwight Way in Berkeley. Dr. Brenneman is a distinguished biblical theologian, author, and administrator,  having given visionary leadership for 11 years as President of Goshen College in Indiana, a respected Mennonite institution.

Meet President Brenneman
A Time to “Meet and Greet” the New President of ABSW
Sunday, September 10, 2:00-5:00
American Baptist Seminary of the West
2606 Dwight Way, Berkeley

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PCBA Ministerial Standards

The Ministerial Standards Committee of PCBA serves as the committee that relates to Ordinations among member churches, on behalf of the Evergreen Association of American Baptist Churches.

We have recently completed a revision of our Guidelines for Ordination.  You will find them here, along with the Application forms used by Evergreen for Ordination and Recognition.

We hope you will find them useful should the occasion arise in your church.

Our committee meets again on September 6 and November 1 later this year.

Many thanks to all,

Paul Hardwick, Chair
Ministerial Standards Committee