First Baptist associate pastor resigns after controversial tweets slamming Palo Alto

Rev. Gregory Stevens. Photo from the First Baptist Church website.
Rev. Gregory Stevens. Photo from the First Baptist Church website.

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.

16 Comments

  1. The pastor is not alone in his opinion. After living in PA for 14 years I left. I found it to be hugely elitist. Most of the people who live there have no idea what regular folks’ lifestyles are like (people who live in more economically-diverse cities where there are rich, middle-class, and lower-middle class live in the same community and overlap. In order to live in Palo Alto you have to be extremely wealthy this condition causes one to lose perspective and empathy with those who aren’t priveledged and pampered. The housing crisis has been brewing for decades, but only now are baby steps being taken to address the needs. Good luck Palo Alto! See ya later!

  2. Apparently Karen Holman and Eric Filseth are only surrounded by YES people and only interested in Silicon Valley money. Palo Alto IS an elitist racist city with almost no spiritual value and Mr. Stevens, with a couple of expletivies, had the nerve to say so.

  3. Gee, how vicious and hateful the supposedly tolerant,open minded and loving liberals can be! Actually quite Abit lately!

    • I actually agree. Palo Alto is a fine, caring community, also one of education and culture. It’s residents did not deserve the vicious slam by this ‘minister’. He will fit in better up in SF or Berkeley. Just because we don’t want to roll around in the mud with the trendiest of social causes dujour, does it mean we are not caring. I do think that liberalism is kind of gone a little too far and lost its good judgement. Palo Alto you’re a great place, keep your head up high.

  4. Haven’t heard a minister use that kind of language since Jeremiah Wright, the spiritual sherpa of President Obama for 20 years. Remember how surprised Obama was to learn that Wright had used profane language from the pulpit, and he was forced to denounce him? One wonders if Obama paid any attention to Wright all those years in church?

    • Every hate has a corresponding love. I hate greed because I love altruism and equality. Maybe Gregory hates Palo Alto because he loves genuine benefactors, working-class people, and christ-like christians

      • In all of his preaching in our congregation he was quite loving, never with words like on his twitter. Having known Gregory personally, I think this has been blown a bit out of proportion.

  5. Nothing he said was incorrect. But it’s a mistake to say things in a manner that diverts attention from the substance of your statement to the words you chose to communicate the message. Palo Alto isn’t reflecting on its elitism and culture of exclusion and self satisfaction. It’s focusing on the Reverend’s vulgar language.

    • Absolutely correct. Complete focus an the manner of speech is necessary to divert attention from a “darning” critique of hypocrisy. The growing exclusion and elitism of Palo Alto is endemic. Folks are certainly nice, but have been blind to this reality for far too long.

  6. “This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
    So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” John 8:6-7

  7. A comment right out of The Trump Doctrine for insulting people who don’t see his way. As Prez Bloato would tweet “SAD”.

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