List of faith communities near Palo Alto

I’ve been compiling a list of religious organizations mostly in Silicon Valley, from San Jose to San Francisco. The middle school class of our congregation visits other faith communities, and this list is designed to be used as a resource to help the class find places to visit.

Even though I was familiar with the work of Harvard’s Pluralism Project, even though I expected a wide diversity of religious traditions, I was still astonished at the religious diversity I found: there are hundreds of faith communities, ranging from Anabaptists to Zoroastrians, within an hour’s drive of our congregation.

Most of the research I did was online. It proved difficult to research some faith communities online, as quite a few do not have Web sites, or they have Web sites that are so outdated you don’t trust them. Yelp proved to an excellent source of information about many faith communities, especially when there were recent reviews (search for “Religious organizations” in a given locale). Youtube also proved a good source of information in a few cases; sometimes faith communities have inadequate Web sites but their members may post videos that provide useful information. One or two congregations had Facebook pages that provided the most recent information.

This list also relies on some real-world research. Our middle school class has visited some of these congregations, as noted on the list below. I also relied a lot on word-of-mouth information — people telling me about some faith community that they knew about, or had friends in, or belonged to.

Perhaps the most difficult part of making this list was figuring out a reasonable way to organize it. I started with the eight major world religions identified in Stephen Prothero’s book God Is Not One; added Zoroastrian, Sikh, Baha’i, and Jain to the list; then finished off with a list of New Religious Movements organized according to the categories in the book New Religious Movements, ed. Christopher Partridge. That takes care of the major divisions. It was more difficult to know how to categorize sub-groups within Christianity and Islam. Christianity is arguably the most diverse of the major world religions, and I did the best I could based on various scholarly reference works. Islam was also challenging to categorize, and I finally decided to use the categories from the Salatomatic Web site.

If you live in Silicon Valley, I’d love it if you looked over the list — then let me know if you see any errors or obvious omissions.

And now: the list!

LIST OF FAITH COMMUNITIES NEAR PALO ALTO

Unitarian Universalist
A. Christian
B. Jewish
C. Islamic
D. Buddhist
E. Confucian
F. Daoist (Taoist)
G. Hinduism
H. Orisa devotion
I. Zoroastrian
J. Sikh
K. Baha’i
L. Jain
M. New Religious Movements

 

Unitarian Universalist congregations

First Unitarian Church of San Jose
Visited in 2012-2013, and in 2013-2014. Web site

Sunnyvale UU Fellowship
Web site

Redwood City UU Fellowship
Web site

———

A. Christian

A-1. Roman Catholic

St. Thomas Aquinas Parish
3290 Middlefield Rd., Palo Alto
Web site

A-2. Eastern Orthodox

Greek Orthodox: Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church
1260 Davis St., San Jose
Web site

Russian Orthodox: St. Herman of Alaska
161 N. Murphy Ave., Sunnyvale
Visited 2013-2014. Web site

Russian Orthodox: Protection of the Holy Virgin Church
3475 Ross Road, Palo Alto
Web page

A-3. Oriental Orthodox

Antiochian Orthodox: Orthodox Church of the Redeemer
380 Magdalena Ave., Los Altos Hills
Web site

Armenian Orthodox: St. Andrew Armenian Church
11370 South Stelling Rd., Cupertino
Web site

Coptic Orthodox: St. George and St. Joseph Coptic Orthodox Church
395 W. Rincon Ave., Campbell
Web site

Eritrean Orthodox: Eritrean Holy Trinity Orthodox Tewahdo Church of Santa Clara County
Campbell, Calif.
Web site (mostly in English)
Web site (mostly not in English)

Syriac Orthodox: St. Thomas the Apostle
1921 Las Plumas Ave., San Jose
Web page

A-4. Assyrian Church of the East

Mar Yosip Parish
680 Minnesota Ave., San Jose
Web site

A-5.Protestant

a. Lutheran

ELCA: First Lutheran Church
600 Homer Ave., Palo Alto
According to their Web site, “we welcome people diverse in sexual orientation and gender identity.” Web site

Missouri Synod: Trinity Lutheran Church
1295 Middlefield Rd., Palo Alto
No Web site.

b. Church of England / Episcopalian

Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church
600 Colorado Ave., Palo Alto
Visited 2012-2013. Web site

c. Reformed tradition (incl. Presbyterian, Congregational, etc.)

Presbyterian

Presbyterian Church USA: First Presbyterian Church
1140 Cowper St., Palo Alto
Known as a liberal church with a social justice orientation. Web site

A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO): Menlo Park Presbyterian
950 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park
Recently broke with Presbyterian Church USA to join a more conservative Presbyterian group. Web site

Congregational

United Church of Christ: First Congregational Church of Palo Alto
1985 Louis Rd., Palo Alto
Web site

Unitarian, Universalist

Unitarianism and Universalism began as rejections of Calvinism. Unitarian churches grew out of Congregational churches in the U.S. and England, and out of Presbyterian churches in Scotland and Ireland. Universalist churches have more complicated origins, probably with roots in both Congregationalist and Baptist churches. Some people would now call Unitarian Universalism a post-Christian religion, so it is listed separately above.

d. Baptist

American Baptist: First Baptist Church of Palo Alto
305 N. California Ave., Palo Alto
According to the Web site, “a welcoming, inclusive community of faith.” Web site

National Baptist Convention: Jerusalem Baptist Church
398 Sheridan Ave., Palo Alto
Visited 2012-2013. A historically Black church. Web site

Primitive Baptist: Golden Gate Primitive Baptist Church
2950 Niles Canyon Road, Fremont
One characteristic of Primitive Baptists is they have no musical instruments in their services. Web site | Facebook page

e. Anabaptist

Mennonite Church USA: First Mennonite Church of San Francisco
290 Dolores St., San Francisco
Web site

f. Religious Society of Friends (Quaker)

Palo Alto Friends Meeting
957 Colorado Ave., Palo Alto
Visited 2012-2013. Web site

g. Methodist groups

African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AME Zion): University AME Zion church
3549 Middlefield Rd. Palo Alto
A historically Black church. Web site

[Note that AME Zion is a different denomination from AME.]

United Methodist Church: First United Methodist Church of Palo Alto
625 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto
Web site

h. Non-denominational

Stanford Memorial Church
Visited 2013-2014; 2014-2015. Non-denominational liberal church at Stanford University. “Protestant Ecumenical Christian worship.” Web site

A-6. Restorationist churches

Latter-Day Saints (Mormon): Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints in Palo Alto
3865 Middlefield Rd., Palo Alto
They host the annual Christmas creche. 650-494-8899 No Web site

Seventh Day Adventist: Seventh Day Adventist Church of Palo Alto
786 Channing Ave., Palo Alto
No Web site

Disciples of Christ: First Christian Church of Palo Alto
2890 Middlefield Rd., Palo Alto
Web site

Jehovah’s Witness
4243 Alma Street, Palo Alto
650-493-3020 No Web site

A-7. Pentecostal and Charismatic churches

C3 Church Global (Christian City Church International): C3 Silicon Valley
3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto.
Web site

A-8. African Independent Churches (African Intitiated Churches)

None known in Silicon Valley.

A-9. Other Christian groups

First Church of Christ Scientist
3045 Cowper St., Palo Alto
Web site

———

B. Jewish

B-1. Orthodox

Congregation Emek Baracha
4102 El Camino Real, Palo Alto
Web site

B-2. Conservative

Kol Emeth
4175 Maneula Ave., Palo Alto
Web site

B-3. Reform

Congregation Beth Am
26790 Arastradero Rd., Los Altos Hills
Web site

B-2,3. Conservative and Reform

Congregation Etz Chayim
4161 Alma St, Palo Alto
Visited Purim festival in 2014-2015. They “meld Reform and Conservative traditions.”
Web site

B-4. Reconstructionist

Keddem Congregation
Most services are at Kehillah Jewish High School, 3900 Fabian Way, Palo Alto
According to their Web site, “Reconstructionist Judaism may be considered a ‘maximalist liberal Judaism’.” Web site

———

C. Islamic

Names of “denominations” from the Salatomatic Web site.

C-1. Sunni

Yaseen Foundation (Muslim Community Assoc. of the Penninsula)
Mosque: 621 Masonic Way, Belmont
Community center: 1722 Gilbreth Road, Burlingame
Web page on Salatomatic | Web site

C-2. Shia

a. Bohra Ismaili Shia

Anjuman-e-Jamali
998 San Antonio Road, Palo Alto
UUCPA’s Adult RE Committee found that this group was not interested in contacts with our congregation. Web page on Salatomatic

b. Jafari

Masjid Al Rasool
552 South Bascom Ave., San Jose
Predominantly Persian. Web site on Salatomatic

C-3. Sufi

a. Naqshbandi-Haqqani Sufi

Jamil Islamic Center
427 S. California Avenue, Palo Alto
Web page on Salatomatic

C-4. Other Muslim groups

a. “Nondenominational”

Taha Services Masjid
1285 Hammerwood Ave., Sunnyvale
Predominantly Indian/Pakistani. Web page on Salatomatic

Muslim Community Association
3003 Scott Blvd., Santa Clara
Web page on Salatomatic (called the “largest and most active” mosque in the Bay Area) | Web site

———

D. Buddhist

D-1. Theravada

Sri Lankan: Buddhivara
402 Knowles Ave., Santa Clara
Resident monks. Web site

Vietnamese: Chua Giac Minh
763 Donohoe St., East Palo Alto
Visited 2012-2013. Services mostly in Vietnamese. Web site

D-2. Mahayana

a. Pure Land

Palo Alto Buddhist Temple
2751 Louis Rd, Palo Alto
Visited 2014-2015. Organized in 1914, mostly by persons of Japanese descent. Web site

b. Zen

Soto Zen: Kannon Do Zen Meditation Center
1972 Rock St., Mt. View
Web site

D-3. Tibetan

Dechen Rang Dharma Center
1156 Cadillac Ct., Milpitas
Web site

———

E. Confucian

No known Confucian temples in the Bay Area.

N.B.: The Confucius Institute at Stanford is not a faith community, but rather a scholarly group dedicated to promoting Chinese culture and Confucian values. Web link

———

F. Daoist (Taoism)

Kong Chow Temple
855 Stockton St, San Francisco
Dedicated to Guan Di. Wikipedia page

Tah Teh Taoist Temple
361 Sea Horse Court, Foster City
650-573-1495. No known Web site; it is a registered nonprofit and has filed IRS form 990 at least through 2013.

———

G. Hindu

Hindu Temple and Community
450 Persian Dr., Sunnyvale
Visited 2012-2013; 2014-2015. Variety of deities. Web site

Shirdi Sai Darbar
255 San Geronimo Way, Sunnyvale
Web site

———

H. Orisa devotion

Prothero calls this “Yoruba religion,” though other West African peoples such as the Fon also venerated Orisas. The Harvard Pluralism Project calls this “Afro-Caribbean” religion. For more on Santeria and Vodun in the U.S., including tensions with white society, see: Anthony Pinn, Varieties of African American Religious Experience (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998).

H-1. Botanicas

A botanica is a store that sells supplies for practitioners of Orisha devotion, as well as for related traditions such as folk Catholicism, etc. Followers of Orisa devotion may not belong to formal religious organizations, and the Harvard Pluralism Project lists botanicas as religious centers for this religious tradition.

La Sirena Botanica
1918 Brewster Ave., Redwood City
Yelp page

Botanica El Trebol
“Santeria, Orishas…”
1864 W San Carlos St., San Jose
Web site

———

I. Zoroastrian

San Jose Darbeh-Mehr
10468 Crothers Rd., San Jose
Web site

———

J. Sikh

Gurdwara Sahib
3636 Murillo Ave., San Jose
Visited 2013-2014; 2014-2015. Web site

———

K. Baha’i

Baha’i of Palo Alto
Meets in members’ homes.
One of their prophets spoke at the old Palo Alto Unitarian Church in 1912. Web site

———

L. Jain

Jain Center of Northern California
722 S. Main St., Milpitas
Web site

———

M. New Religious Movements

The categories in this section are taken from Christopher Partridge, New Religions: A Guide: New Religious Movements, Sects, and Alternative Spiritualities (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

M-1. New religions with roots in Christianity

Unity: Unity Palo Alto
3391 Middlefield Rd., Palo Alto
Web site

M-2. New religions with roots in Judaism

SEE: Reconstructionist Judaism above.

M-3. New religions with roots in Islam

SEE: Baha’i above.

M-4. New religions with roots in Zoroastrianism

None known in the Bay Area.

M-5. New religions with roots in Indian religions

Ananda Church of Self Realization: Ananda Palo Alto
2171 El Camino Real, Palo Alto
Visited 2013-2104. Web site

M-6. New religions with roots in East Asian religions

Cao Dai: Cao Dai Temple of San Jose
947 S. Almaden Ave., San Jose
Predominantly Vietnamese language. Web site

Rissho Kosei-kai: Rissho Kosei-kai of San Francisco
1031 Valencia Way, Pacifica
A liberal religion from Japan based on Buddhism. Listed here primarily because Rissho Kosekai and UUism had strong ties in the 1960s-1970s. Web site

M-7. New religions with roots in indigenous and pagan traditions

Neo-Pagan and Wiccan
Sensitivity note: Many Neo-Pagan groups are quite small, and they may not welcome a group visit from a class.
South Bay Circles
Meet at various locations
Web site

M-8. New religions with roots in Western esoteric traditions

National Spiritualist Association of Churches: Golden Gate Spiritualist Church
1901 Franklin St., San Francisco
Web site

M-9. New religions with roots in modern Western cultures

Ethical Culture Society: Ethical Culture Society of Silicon Valley
Meet in member’s homes and other locations.
Unitarian Universalism and Ethical Culture Society have historical connections; some congregations have dual affiliation. Web site

Humanist communities: Humanists in Silicon Valley
1180 Coleman Ave., San Jose
Web site

 

2 thoughts on “List of faith communities near Palo Alto”

  1. Thanks, Jack! I looked through my notes, and found that I had once included Holy Virgin on my list, but took it off two years ago when teachers of the middle school class were unable to make contact with anyone there. Your comment pointed me to Yelp, which pointed me to the church Web page on the Western American Diocese Web site: http://www.wadiocese.com/parishes.html?type=details&id=8

    So now I have replaced it on the list.

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