Foothills Congregational Church in Los Altos bid farewell last month to the Rev. Matt Broadbent, who retired after 17 years of service.
Broadbent and his wife, Barbara, are retiring to a condominium in Aptos. Barbara has served as spiritual director for the Northern California Nevada Conference United Church of Christ.
Broadbent said the members of the Foothills congregation have nourished him as much as he served them.
“So many people have shared their stories of spiritual awakening with me and they have opened me up,” he said. “My personal mission statement is, ‘I delight in the light of your spirit.’”
The son of a Congregational minister and the father of a Congregational minister, Broadbent is a native of Massachusetts. He served congregations in Massachusetts, Vermont, the Sierra foothills and Santa Cruz before landing at Foothills Congregational Church. In addition to his church duties, he joined the board of Community Services Agency and served seven years, including a stint as board president.
“I had been involved in homeless services in Santa Cruz and wanted to continue that focus,” Broadbent said. “I learned what a well-run organization CSA is and was able to transfer some of the organizational training I received to Foothills Church.”
Broadbent noted the challenges of ministering to Silicon Valley.
“At one point, I counted 40 Ph.D.s in our congregation, including a number of rocket scientists,” he said. “At first, it was a challenge to put together the combination of spirituality and science that characterizes our path here in Silicon Valley. But my emphasis is pointing out where the spirit of God shows up in everyone and celebrating that.”
Church welcomes interim pastor
Foothills Congregational Church named the Rev. Janice Steele interim minister. She currently serves at the City of Refuge United Church of Christ in Oakland.
“I was raised in a black, Pentecostal Church and was on a spiritual search until I found my home in the Congregational United Church of Christ,” she said. “It speaks historically to me with its long history of standing up for social justice and also its mission of welcoming everyone, wherever they are on life’s journey.”
Born in Gary, Ind., she attended Indiana State University and earned degrees from San Jose State University and Pacific School of Religion.
Like Broadbent, Steele is a noted vocalist.
“One of my life’s ambitions has been to sing with Janice Steele,” Broadbent said.
Part of the United Church of Christ, Foothills Congregational Church was established in 1961 to provide a supportive and caring community that tolerated theological diversity. Foothills’ vision is to provide a spiritual home where each individual is welcomed as a beloved child of God. Its family of faith seeks to embrace people of every ability, age, ethnicity, family or economic status, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief and cultural origin. To that end, Foothills is a member of the Center for Progressive Christianity, an affiliation of more than 200 member churches from 26 countries who support a more progressive interpretation of Christian belief. Foothills conducts its services in a sanctuary built in 1914, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Foothills Congregational Church is located at 461 Orange Ave., Los Altos. Services are scheduled 10 a.m. Sundays.