Welcome to the Congregational Church of San Mateo!
If you are looking…
…for a church that gathers around the teachings of Jesus Christ and does so in an open-minded and progressive way — this may be the place for you.
…for ways to further the cause of justice and peace through service to the local community and wider world — this may be the place for you.
…into your heart and finding that God’s love knows no bounds, and church should be a place where all are welcome — young, old, rich, poor, various colors and sexual orientations — this may be the place for you.
There are a lot of churches out there, and people are looking for a place they can feel at home. It can be difficult to tell, at first, if a church is a good fit with your philosophy of life or core values.
In order to help newcomers get an immediate sense of us, as well as to help longtime members remain aware of our essentials, we offer these guiding principles. We seek to hold ourselves accountable to live these principles in community together.
Join us for Homecoming Sunday, September 13!
The full choir will be back, our new sermon series begins, and we’ll celebrate the start of a new church year with a big BBQ. Enjoy festive music on the lawn, plus balloon animals for the kids. Catch up with friends you’ve missed over the busy summer months, and meet new ones.
It will also be the kickoff of the new sermon series The Road to Character, based on David Brooks’ book of the same name. Here is what Penny has to say about it:
David Brooks’ book The Road to Character came to me as a message sent from spirit. I heard about his book on NPR and then read a NY Times review of it. I was intrigued by it, but promptly forgot to add it to my already overflowing “books I need to read” list.
Then, as I was driving to a retreat center last April to plan for the summer and fall, I heard a brief interview by him and was reminded of my interest. My cell phone rang as the interview ended and it was a close friend who had just finished the book and told me it was a must-read. I got to the retreat, opened my email, and there was an email in my inbox from someone else who was in the middle of the book, encouraging me to read it. So I left my retreat room, walked to a nearby bookstore and there it was, front and center. I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening reading the book cover to cover. I was skeptical at first, often finding myself at odds with the author’s NY Times columns, but I was pulled in by his wisdom and by his ideas which had a resonating ring of truth.
As I thought about how to tell the story of why I have chosen this book as the centerpiece for our fall series, I came across Brooks’ note as to why he wrote the book and that pretty much summed it up:
I guess I wrote this book to save my own soul.
About once a month I run across a person who radiates an inner light. These people can be in any walk of life. They seem deeply good. They listen well. They make you feel funny and valued. You often catch them looking after other people, and as they do so their laugh is easy and musical, their spirit is infused with gratitude. They are not thinking about what wonderful work they are doing. They are not thinking about themselves at all.
An encounter with such a person can brighten your whole day. But I confess I often have a darker thought: It occurs to me that I’ve achieved more career success than I ever imagined, but I have not achieved THAT. I have not achieved their generosity of spirit, or their depth of character or their inner light.
I wrote this book because I wanted to be a bit more like those people. I wrote it because I want to have moral adventures that will end up making me deeper and better. I know reading or writing a book can’t make you incandescent in that way, but I wanted to describe people who had made that journey from shallowness to depth, from fragmentation to integrity, from self-concern to service. I thought I could at least describe the path people took toward that sort of goodness. Then I could try to make my own journey in that direction. I could find others who would take this journey with me.
I also wrote it because I wanted to shift the conversation a bit. We live in a culture that focuses on external success. We live in a fast, distracted culture. We’ve lost some of the vocabulary other generations had to describe the inner confrontation with weakness that produces good character. I am hoping this book can help people better understand their own inner lives, their own moral adventures and their own roads to character.
In The Road to Character, Brooks focuses on the deeper values that should inform our lives. Responding to what he calls the culture of the Big Me, which emphasizes external success, Brooks challenges us, and himself, to rebalance the scales between our “résumé virtues”—achieving wealth, fame, and status—and our “eulogy virtues,” those that exist at the core of our being: kindness, bravery, honesty, or faithfulness, focusing on what kind of relationships we have formed.
Incorporating his use of inspirational leaders, along with some of our biblical and spiritual ancestors, we will explore internal struggle as a path to internal strength of character. The Road to Character provides an opportunity for us to rethink our priorities, and strive to build rich inner lives marked by humility and moral depth.
In this sermon series, I hope to call us all to the same thing.
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