Spiritual Life

Pastor's Perspective: Helping community requires partnership


I recently heard someone talking about writing a personal mission statement.

“Here’s the way to think about it,” he said. “You just have to name your superpowers – the things you do better than anyone else.”

Well, maybe. But I’m not sure we have to turn everything into a competition.

At Los Altos United Methodist Church, we’ve just gone through the exercise of articulating our vision and mission for the next few years. Its short form is:

Connection – Compassion – Courage

that all may flourish

We’ve decided that this is what we want to be about:

Sustaining connections with our neighbors.

Actions that require us to stretch our compassion wider.

Courage to take meaningful risks.

We do this all with the goal of making our communities – Los Altos and Mountain View – places where life flourishes for everyone.

I’m not sure that we’re better than anyone else at any of those things, but we do know that those are the values that are important enough to shape our lives and this church around.

I think what I love most about this statement is that it keeps reminding us that a church – even a big church – can’t do this alone. A mission statement that involves changing our communities requires partnership. And that’s a good thing.

For eight years, Los Altos United Methodist Church has sponsored Compassion Week – one week every October when the church turns all of its energy and resources toward uniting the Los Altos community in service. Each year, approximately 2,000 volunteers from all over the community have participated in the hands-on service opportunities that Compassion Week offers for individuals, families and groups.

This year, something important has changed. We’re doing it with partners. Compassion Week is now a co-sponsored event. Los Altos Community Foundation is our partner. So are Christ Episcopal Church, St. Nicholas and St. William parishes, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Grant Road and Pacifica Institute. Together, we are making it easy for every person of every age, every physical ability and every time availability to be part of a community where we take care of each other, serve each other.

So come. Build a Habitat for Humanity playhouse, or serve a meal, or pack food to be distributed locally or globally, or give blood, or sew a blanket, or share conversation with new friends at an interfaith dinner. There are more than 100 projects planned, at a variety of locations in Silicon Valley and the South Bay.

Compassion Week begins Monday and ends with dinner and a celebration Oct. 6.

For a list of all the Compassion Week opportunities, to volunteer and for more information, visit compassionweeklosaltos.org.


The Rev. Kathi McShane is senior pastor of Los Altos United Methodist Church, 655 Magdalena Ave. For more information, call 948-1083, email [email protected] or visit laumc.org

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