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Frequently Asked Questions

Looking for questions and answers about the Santa Clara First Presbyterian Church? You’re in the right place. Questions have been partitioned into the following categories: worship, music, youth programs, congregation, and facilities.

If you have questions that have not been addressed here that you think would be of benefit to others visiting this page, please let us know.


We have a single weekly service which takes place at 10 am on Sunday morning in the church sanctuary.

Sunday service is a time when we gather together as a church body to give thanks for what God does in our lives, sing songs of praise to Him, and learn a bit more about His Word, both in the form of Biblical text and in the person of His son, Jesus Christ.

Our worship team leads us in praise and Pastor Dennis Woodsmall leads the teaching portion of the service. Other members of the congregation also participate through prayer and scripture reading.

Yes there is. It's important for visitors to understand something. We don't care how you're dressed (although we do care that you're dressed). We don't care how old you are or how tall you are. We don't care what line of work you're in. We don't care how many tattoos or piercings you have. We don't care what candidate you voted for, or whether you decided not to vote at all. We don't care that you're not ok. (We don't even care if you don't yet know that you're not ok). We don't care how you're broken, because we are all broken in one way or another. We don't care that you're imperfect, because all of us are imperfect. The one critical thing you need to know is that God is interested in seeing you made free and whole, and God desires to have an intimate relationship with you.

Communion is a thankful remembrance of the Passover meal which took place just prior to Jesus being put to death on the cross, one of the central events covered in all four Gospels.

And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise, also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

Luke 22:19-20 (KJV)

The communion ceremony brings to life a deep, profoundly spiritual truth: that we have been redeemed at great cost through the body and blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.

Yes, we baptise people of all ages. The presbyterian view of baptism is fairly clear:

Presbyterians describe baptism as a sign and seal of the covenant of grace made by God through Jesus and extended to us. In baptism, God claims us as beloved children and members of Christ’s body, the church, washing us clean from sin as we renounce the power of evil and seek the will and way of God.

Presbyterians have recognized baptism as one of two sacraments initiated by Christ in Scripture. All four Gospels report the baptism of Jesus by John in the Jordan River (Matt. 3:13–17; Mark 1:9–11; Luke 3:21–22; John 1:29–34). When we are baptized with water in the name of the Trinity, we share in Christ’s own baptism.

Perhaps the best description of baptism is that found in the book of Romans:
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:3-4 (KJV)


Church office hours:Monday - Friday, 10am - 4pm Pastor office hours:Monday - Friday, 10am - 4pm

First Presbyterian Church of Santa Clara is conveniently located at the corner of San Tomas Expressway and Homestead Road. To get to us from one of the major area freeways, do the following. From Highway 101, northbound or southbound:

Take the San Tomas Expressway exit and head south. Cross over El Camino Real. Turn left onto Homestead Road. Take the first left into the church parking lot. The church is at 2499 Homestead Road.

From 280 northbound:

Take the first Saratoga Avenue exit. Turn right onto Saratoga Avenue. Turn left onto San Tomas Expressway. Turn right onto Homestead Road. Take the first left into the church parking lot. The church is at 2499 Homestead Road.

From 280 southbound:

Take the Saratoga Avenue exit. Turn left onto Saratoga Avenue. Turn left onto San Tomas Expressway. Turn right onto Homestead Road. Take the first left into the church parking lot. The church is at 2499 Homestead Road.

Three sets of restrooms exist on site.

  • In the sanctuary, men and women bathrooms are in the little hall just outside the left hand door (as you face the altar).
  • In the courtyard, along the perimeter of the patio area that lies opposite the church office are men and women bathroom facilities.
  • In the children's playground area, there are bathrooms on the playground edge that is closest to the back parking area.

To see to reservation requirements, contact Vicki Rivera

To schedule use of the sanctuary and/or church grounds for a wedding, contact Vicki Rivera

Organizations which share the use of our facilities during the week include the following:

  • Live Oak Academy, which provides a Christian, classical, and collaborative-style educational service for home school families. For information, phone (408) 355‑4935.
  • Living Waters Church / Iglesia Agua Viva, a Christian church whose services are in Spanish. For information, phone (650) 380‑2779.
  • Silicon Valley Healing Rooms, a team of trained Christians who pray for people in groups of two or three on the first and third Tuesdays of the month. For information, visit the group's website or phone (650) 930‑6843.
  • Naranon, a 12-step fellowship program for family and friends of those addicted to drugs. Meetings are held in room B1 on Wednesdays, from 8pm to 9pm. For information, phone (408) 406‑7081.
  • Cub Scout Pack 367, a pack of young scouts (boys in or entering grades 1 thru 5). The pack is sponsored by First Presbyterian Church as part of our service-to-the-community program. Den meetings are held on Thursday evenings here at the church. For information, email cubmaster@pack367santaclara.org.

Other organizations may use the facilities from time to time. Should you need to know who's using what (and when), contact Vicki Rivera.

Youth and Children’s Programs

We make use of a curriculum called BLAST (Biblical Learning And Spiritual Training), a program used by our sister church in Sunnyvale. For details, please read through our Children's Ministry page.

Yes we do. To learn more about the program, read through our Children's Ministry page.

Children from toddlers through the age of 13 years are welcomed to join us.

Infants to 4 year olds join teachers in the Nursery classroom A5, from 9:00-11:30am; the Nursery is located on the lower level across from the Church office. Dismissing kids to Sunday school

Children ages 5-13 join the congregation in the sanctuary and walk with their teachers to their classrooms at the appropriate time (indicated by the slide to the right being shown during service). Classrooms are located between the nursery and Church office; the specific classroom used depends on a child's age.

5-7 year olds meet in classroom A4.
8-10 year olds meet in classroom A3.
11-13 year olds meet in classroom B7 on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month (classroom is on the 2nd level, above the Church office); on the 1st and 3rd Sundays, those over 10 years of age are asked to remain during the service.

Parents are expected to sign their children out of the classroom after service. These procedures have been implemented in order to ensure the safety of our children.

Children are excused from Sunday service after the singing of worship songs. At that point in the service, a slide is shown which dismisses the children; at that time, teachers and shepherds walk over to class with the youth.

No. Normally, children are dismissed early from the Sunday service and are escorted by someone in the Children's Ministry for more age-appropriate instruction.

To learn more about the specific instruction we give and the types of tools we use, visit the Children's Ministry page. The elder responsible for the Children's Ministry is Sui Lim.  On deciding to become a member of the Children’s Ministry team, the process involves the running of background checks, training on Safe Church practices, and a series of in classroom observations. For more information, contact ministry coordinator Sui Lim.

If you arrive late, no worries. Simply walk your child/children to the appropriate classroom, as listed above, once you arrive.

Classrooms are located behind the church, at the far edge of the quad, adjacent to the office.

Once service has ended, your child/children should be collected from their classroom and signed out.


We provide a very brief summary of what it means to be a Presbyterian on our About Being Presbyterian page. We invite those interested to take advantage of online resources to learn more about the history of the Presbyterian Church, the core beliefs of Presbyterians, and the standards to which the Presbyterian Church adheres (as stated in the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Catechisms of 1647).

The mission of the church is merely an extension of the mission of Jesus. Pastor Dennis puts it this way: the church should be raising up new disciples, in addition to bringing people to freedom, wholeness, and intimacy with God. This is the fundamental mission of the church.

Becoming a member of a Presbyterian Church is a very straightforward, relatively easy process. And yes, it represents a very important step in one's faith journey. The only prerequisite for joining any PC(U.S.A.) congregation is confessing faith in Jesus Christ as Lord. That said, the actual process of becoming a member can take many different forms, depending on where you are in your walk of faith and your life history. Are you new to the Christian faith, or are you coming to us from another Christian congregation? Have you been baptized? (The Presbyterian Church accepts all previous baptisms that are administered with water and done in the name of the Trinity). Membership is a decision that you and your family should make together, with prayerful encouragement and support from your new church family. We ask potential members to take time to move through the process of examination and discovery, at which point we will be praying for you, listening to your history stories, and inviting mentors to walk with you while you consider your decision to join our church. Once you have had a chance to get any questions answered and have concluded prayerfully that you are ready to be received into the membership, life, work, and ministries of our congregation, let the Church Office know. You will be asked a series of questions where together we will covenant to support one another in service to Jesus Christ.

Yes, we do. We offer a number of different ways to connect with people in the church and learn more about specific topics. Past book studies and discussions have included such diverse subjects as

  • How to strengthen relationships
  • Moving on after a break-up
  • Making better friends
  • Enjoying family life
  • Taking control of family finances (Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University)
  • Christian apologetics: defending the faith
  • Managing time more effectively
  • Becoming more confident
  • What to do when faith waivers
  • Making a positive difference in the lives of others
  • Facing death and illness

If these sound like they would be of interest to you, or you have other topics you'd like to see discussed, we encourage you to get involved with one of our small groups.

Lots and lots! After the weekly Sunday service, all are invited to the social hall to enjoy coffee, snacks, and lunchables. It's an opportunity for members of the entire church to get together and catch up on the latest news in people's lives. Oh, and every so often we shake things up a bit by heading over for some pizza. Then there are our small group studies. These allow people the opportunity to meet up to discuss topics and books in a smaller, more intimate setting. For these, we have a men's study group, two women's study groups, and two home church groups. All are welcomed to attend any of these meetings. Last but definitely not least, we enjoy coming together to just have some fun. Special events of this kind include our annual Chili and Pie Cook Off, our Thanksgiving Luncheon Outreach, our Christmas Carol Dinner, our occasional fellowship dinner potlucks, or our movie nights. There's always something going on; be sure to check our calendar to learn more about what's coming up.

We have an online description of the people who hold key positions within our church, which is to say those on staff, our elders, and our deacons.

Absolutely. Simply head on over to our Sermons page, where you can listen to all of the weekly sermons.

Support can be offered in a number of different ways. Financial support is accepted in the form of tithes and offerings, which are collected during the Sunday morning service. We also rely on members to contribute their time, energy, and talents to various ongoing activities happening within the church. To learn more about how you can help, visit our Church Volunteer Opportunities page.


Our praise and worship team is able to play a wide variety of music genres, but the vast majority of the songs played during service fall within one of two general categories: popular contemporary Christian praise music (think KLOVE), and older, more traditional Christian hymns (think Old Christian Radio). The combination seems to satisfy most members of our congregation, young and old alike.

We rely on the musical talents of Marlene Arellano to lead the praise and worship team.

We welcome all those who are musically inclined to join our music ministry. There are ample opportunities to share your musical gifts with the congregation, and we are always on the lookout for people who wish to become involved. Please contact Marlene Arellano.