News

Why 'Menlo Pres' is now 'Menlo Church'

 

A local landmark known as Menlo Park Presbyterian Church for 142 years adopted a new name a few months ago.

In front of the large white church at Santa Cruz Avenue and Johnson Street in downtown Menlo Park is a bright, clean-cut sign with a contemporary "M" logo and the new name. The church that has been known as "Menlo Pres" for generations is now Menlo Church.

The church is the same, only the name has changed, said Scott Scruggs, Menlo Church's executive pastor of ministry, strategy, and design. He explained that the church had previously used different names for its four campuses Menlo Park Pres, Open Door Church San Mateo, Open Door Church Mountain View and Menlo San Jose and this had confused some worshippers.

However, Pastor Scruggs said, "we are still Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, we are still part of (the) Presbyterian denomination (and) we still operate under the same form of church governance."

The name change took place in August, when Menlo Park Presbyterian Church went through a rebranding process. Its name was shortened at its four campuses to simply Menlo Church, and a new logo, a new website (menlo.church) were launched, said Mark Swarner, central ministry leader and missions pastor.

The "dot church" is a relatively new website domain name option, launched in September 2014. The aesthetics of the website, too, bespeak the tech savvy one might expect from a church in the heart of Silicon Valley: bold, clear letters, overlaid on vivid photographs, with not too much text.

The church did make a big change in March 2014, when it left the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) or PCUSA denomination and joined a newer denomination within the Presbyterian tradition know as ECO ("A covenant order of Evangelical Presbyterians").

An overwhelming majority of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church members supported the change: 2,024 members voted for it and only 158 were opposed, even though it came with a $8.89 million price tag to transfer the church's land title from PCUSA to local ownership. Menlo Church now owns its property, and can go about expanding to new sites more easily.

One of the issues that has divided Presbyterian denominations is same-sex marriage.

According to a Presbyterian website, Layman.org, while the PCUSA celebrated this year's U.S. Supreme Court decision making same-sex marriages legal in all states, three other Presbyterian denominations did not. The website quotes an ECO church executive as saying: "In ECO, we affirm that marriage is a gift from God between one man and one woman."

The Menlo Park church opened a new location in San Jose in March and, according to Pastor Scruggs, plans to open at least four new sites in coming years.

The church has been in its current location since 1950 after the old church was torn down. The Menlo Park Presbyterian Church was organized in 1873 and constructed its first building in 1875 on Santa Cruz Avenue near Chestnut Street, according to the Menlo Park Historical Society. As of 2014, it had 3,400 members.

Comments

21 people like this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 19, 2015 at 10:32 am

PCUSA was too liberal for the people, hardly representative of the community. please tax them now!


20 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 19, 2015 at 12:56 pm

really? is a registered user.

so why all the denominations in the first place? Why all the differentiation? Is this just about who can and can't dance or drink at weddings? or who's got the golden ticket for the Pearly Gates and who hasn't? When is everyone going to grow up and realize that it's the same god regardless if your Jewish, Christian, or Muslim?

(except for those of us who think it's all hooey in the end..)


Like this comment
Posted by Robert D.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 19, 2015 at 1:30 pm

Robert D. is a registered user.

@really - as any reporter or anyone would say - have you attended the church? If you have, you might be able to answer your own question...
with regards to "Is this just about who can and can't dance or drink at weddings?" Where has MPPC said that?
I would say - attend then comment


17 people like this
Posted by Thinking
a resident of another community
on Nov 19, 2015 at 1:36 pm

Thinking is a registered user.

So, Meno Church is acting against the Law of the land, yet still gets unregulated Tax Exemption and probably Faith Based funding for which we don't know what they use the grant for...beside feeding the Homeless???
Is Menlo Church willing to complete a legal Marriage License.. or it is unwilling to "Sanctify" the license of Same gender people so they can get the benefits, inheritance, hospital visits, health etc that is available to a man and woman??? etc.

Almanac Editor, please write an investigative article about all the Churches in Menlo Park to learn how much Tax-payer money is used to subsidize the evangelical business.


7 people like this
Posted by Water
a resident of another community
on Nov 19, 2015 at 3:08 pm

Water is a registered user.

They have a "pastor of ministry, strategy, and design". Ick. They should've named themselves Sili Valley Church.


6 people like this
Posted by Alan
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 19, 2015 at 3:53 pm

Alan is a registered user.

@Thinking - the church is a private organization, unlike a county courthouse or justice of the peace. I don't have a problem with gay marriage, but I don't think the law compels a religious organization to perform them. As a non-Catholic, I can't convince a Catholic church to marry me; I have to become a Catholic first - that doesn't keep me from getting married. It's better to convince people through reasoning, rather than legal coercion. Separation of church and state: both keep out of each other's business. That's the point of the tax exempt status. Your suggestion is to the threaten organization with taxes if they don't comply; that's missing the point.


19 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 19, 2015 at 3:58 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Alan:

the problem is churches DON'T keep out of the government's business. They routinely preach to their members as to how they should vote and what laws should be. They're entitled to do so just like the rest of us, but unlike the rest of us, they don't have to pay taxes. If they want to retain tax exempt status they need to stay out of the government's business.


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Posted by Alan
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 19, 2015 at 6:12 pm

Alan is a registered user.

I'm fine with that, Menlo Voter. I'm not a church attender these days, but I was growing up. Generally they stayed clear of politics back-in-the-day.


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Posted by Alan
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 19, 2015 at 6:31 pm

Alan is a registered user.

... but ... separation of church and state *mostly* entails keeping a church from using the government to coerce people to support a belief, and from the government from forcing churches to promote certain beliefs. That's different from saying, "these political positions are consistent with this church's values". Some churches believed slavery was immoral many years ago; was their involvement in politics inappropriate?


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 19, 2015 at 7:09 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Alan:

The churches' involvement in politics isn't wrong. Only their expectation of tax exempt status even though they are involved in politics. They can't have it both ways. Either you're a citizen with full rights and RESPONSIBILITIES or you're not.


3 people like this
Posted by In the know
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Nov 19, 2015 at 7:42 pm

In the know is a registered user.

First of all, The Layman is a written and published by a conservative entity that has wanted out of the PCUSA for many years and does not support marriage equality. Citing it as a source is a bit like citing Fox News. It has a loose affiliation with MPPC. True, MPPC does not support marriage equality.

Second, MPPC consists of two entities. The church and its real estate holding company, Church of the Pioneers Foundation. The Foundations' net worth, prior the the $10 million buy out, was estimated to be more than $40 million, as it owns approximately 10-12 residences and other commercial buildings in and around Menlo Park. The Foundation also enjoys tax exempt status and is not subject to IRS audit.


3 people like this
Posted by Thinking
a resident of another community
on Nov 19, 2015 at 8:42 pm

Thinking is a registered user.

What can we do,?? "In the Know" thank you, for the added information about the egregious business practices of Churches... not only in Menlo Park but throughout the country. Religious organizations were supposed to offer social/charitable services in exchange for Tax exemption without regulation simply by declaring themselves "Religions." They don't have to file file a 990 form. Is that the best business to be in? The non-profit status is now granted to almost everyone who asks... to PR firms, private individuals, "Brain trusts," most often pontificating a political point of view without, hiring a staff of bloggers, columnists, to push their agenda...
Now we see in our own community an example of unfair advantage that's permeated our country's politics. The Menlo Church, as well as all the other religious businesses manipulating the rules of the System to expand, buy and sell property, etc. And, use a hateful wedge issue to discriminate against "God-made" people wanting to enjoying the government's license to gain benefits afforded other people. It is a false argument for the Religious to gain more money and power... etc.
What can we do??


1 person likes this
Posted by Alan
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 20, 2015 at 12:39 am

Alan is a registered user.

Actually - it turns out, if a church advocates a particular candidate, and have tax exempt status, they are breaking the law. From the IRS website:

"Under law, tax-exempt organizations described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code are prohibited from participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office. Charities, educational institutions and religious organizations, including churches, are among those that are covered under this code section.

"These organizations cannot endorse any candidates, make donations to their campaigns, engage in fund raising, distribute statements, or become involved in any other activities that may be beneficial or detrimental to any particular candidate. Even activities that encourage people to vote for or against a particular candidate on the basis of nonpartisan criteria violate the political campaign prohibition of section 501(c)(3)."

Web Link

Interestingly, this does not mention initiatives or referendums.

I assume the issue is their tax-exempt status. However, that's different from marrying people. I think the recent "IRS Tea Party Scandal" was about enforcing this law in an uneven way. Point is, as a rule, churches should stay out of government business, government should stay out of religious business. How this works out is a matter of debate, but the general principle is a good thing.


13 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 20, 2015 at 8:08 am

really? is a registered user.

Scientology called the whole thing out. They've been an example of pretty clearly not being a religion, but egregiously exploiting the religious tax-exempt status for member's personal gains. So then why grant charitable status at all, simply for religiosity?

A church should have a separate 501C charity for doing good works that take separate donations, but let the collection plate be taxed!


3 people like this
Posted by In the know
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Nov 20, 2015 at 8:21 am

In the know is a registered user.

Although I no longer attend MPPC, I do not believe they receive faith-based funds from the government or overtly advocate particular political positions or candidates. When they left the PCUSA, they made it very clear it was not about PCUSA's position on marriage equality, although for many voting for the move, it was.


1 person likes this
Posted by Thinking
a resident of another community
on Nov 20, 2015 at 9:14 am

Thinking is a registered user.

I wrote a long response at about 3:30 this morning answering the statement about what Religions "should" not be doing. it wasn't published here???

Editor: is there any reason?

Really addresses the problem perfectly. What can we do?


1 person likes this
Posted by Thinking
a resident of another community
on Nov 20, 2015 at 9:14 am

Thinking is a registered user.

I wrote a long response at about 3:30 this morning answering the statement about what Religions "should" not be doing. it wasn't published here???

Editor: is there any reason?

Really addresses the problem perfectly. What can we do?


Like this comment
Posted by Editor
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 20, 2015 at 10:44 am

Thinking, your post didn't come through. You're welcome to post it again.


4 people like this
Posted by Nanc
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 20, 2015 at 4:56 pm

Nanc is a registered user.

The only reason for the "Rebranding" is because this parish is hell bent on denying gay people the right to marry. Discrimination is alive and well in Menlo Church.


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 20, 2015 at 7:11 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Nanc:

churches don't have to marry anyone they don't want to. The only thing that has changed is that the Feds and states can no longer deny anyone the right to marry. This church doesn't wish to marry certain people. No matter how misguided that may be, that is their right, but they certainly aren't "denying gay people the right to marry."


Like this comment
Posted by OldManCA
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Nov 21, 2015 at 10:21 am

OldManCA is a registered user.

Menlo Voter - I've attended MPPC (now Menlo.Church) for over 15 years. No sermon or talk, by any pastor or staff member has ever advocated voting for a particular politician or for or against a particular proposition. I have never heard a sermon or talk attacking gay marriage either. And I attend regularly.

This church does not view its role that way.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 21, 2015 at 3:10 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

OldmanCA:

Would that ALL churches follow Menlo Church's lead when it comes to keeping its nose out of politics.


6 people like this
Posted by In the know
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Nov 22, 2015 at 8:16 pm

In the know is a registered user.

Old Man CA

I attended MPPC for over 20 years before I left. While "the church" may not view its role that way, "the church" is controlled by a rotating group of very conservative men and women elders and finance committee members who do view it as their role to fight against homosexuality in the name of Jesus.

As a former member, I was discouraged by church leadership, but even more discouraged by seeing so many individuals I previously liked and respected drinking the kool-aide of discrimination and hate-mongering.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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