By the Daily Post staff
The associate pastor of First Baptist Church in Palo Alto has resigned after his controversial and off-color tweets drew the spotlight during a City Council hearing on whether his church could lease its space to outside tenants.
Earlier this year, the Rev. Gregory Stevens said on Twitter that Palo Alto is “an elitist s*** den of hate” and “disgusting.”
The tweets came to light during a hearing Monday (May 14) in which council approved a conditional use permit that will allow the church at 305 N. California Ave. to lease space to groups such as the girls’ choir iSing Silicon Valley, dance troupes and mental health counselors.
When council members Karen Holman and Eric Filseth questioned the church’s main pastor, Rev. Rick Mixon, about the tweets, he reluctantly said he was “appalled,” but that he had only been made aware of them a day earlier.
Mixon said the church would need to address the issue, and said that it’s possible that Stevens’ contract wouldn’t be renewed after it ends in August.
In a statement yesterday (May 19), Stevens said he has resigned to “help minimize the negativity focused on the good community work being done at the First Baptist Church of Palo Alto,” according to the Chronicle.
Stevens wrote, “I tweeted to vent my frustration, and I acknowledge that I did so in an unprofessional and often hurtful way. My Twitter community has always been a small group of progressive ministers and Leftist political activists to whom my rants were geared.”
In his statement, he doubled down on his criticism of Palo Alto while avoiding some of the four-letter words he used on Twitter previously.
“In my experience of trying to work with this community for almost 3 years, I believe Palo Alto is a ghetto of wealth, power, and elitist liberalism by proxy, meaning that many community members claim to want to fight for social justice issues, but that desire doesn’t translate into action,” Stevens said. “If the same energies used to organize neighbors around minor parking issues, a young girls choirs, and ‘nasty tweets’ were honed to fight actual injustices, Palo Alto would be a very different city. Palo Alto needs more action, less lip service.”
The church’s website said Stevens has been the associate pastor for faith formation and family life since August 2015. He is a native of Florida and a graduate of the University of South Florida. The website said he completed his master of divinity degree at Claremont School of Theology in southern California in May 2015.
Stevens said he will be moving to San Francisco once his lease in Palo Alto expires.