About the Congregation
Los Altos United Methodist Church is a 2,500-member, multi-staffed church located in the heart of Silicon Valley of Northern California. We have national reputations for excellence in our worship, music, and youth ministries. A progressive and engaged congregation, we have a real commitment to children and youth. The Children’s Center currently serves 350 children and is recognized as one of the most vibrant and dynamic preschools in the area.
Los Altos UMC is changing the world. We do so by inspiring and nurturing personal transformation. We do so here and around the world by direct participation in and support of efforts to address poverty, addiction and homelessness. We do so by offering our children a safe place to grow spiritually.
LAUMC is in a unique situation. We are right in the middle of California’s Silicon Valley. Our community is economically privileged, has an extraordinary degree of higher education, and has an outstanding commitment to young people. As a congregation, we reflect our community’s values in many ways. Most importantly, we have the opportunity to share God’s goodness by word and example with a community that is shaping the future.
Check out one of our traditional worship services on Sunday mornings at 8:30 or 10:00am or our contemporary worship service, Creekside Crossings, at 5:00pm. You’ll discover that a large church can feel like home.
Los Altos UMC is a member of the United Methodist denomination, which defines its mission and purpose as the following:
The mission of The United Methodist Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by proclaiming the good news of God’s grace and by exemplifying Jesus’ command to love God and neighbor. The United Methodist Church affirms that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior of the world, and the Lord of all. As we make disciples, we respect persons of all religious faiths and we defend religious freedom for all persons. Jesus’ words in Matthew provide the Church with our mission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you” (28:19-20), and “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. . . . And you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (22:37, 39).
Local churches provide a significant place of resource and acceptance for anyone, anywhere on their spiritual journey. In our commitment to that role, the community of the Los Altos United Methodist Church defines our mission and purpose as:
“Touching heaven, changing earth with head, heart, and hands.”
That’s the spirit that gave birth to LAUMC. It’s who we are as Christians. It’s what we do as a church. We live out this mission by faithfully committing to and intentionally growing in our Five Practices of Discipleship: Radical Hospitality, Bold Service & Social Justice, Deepening Faith, Passionate Worship, and Extravagant Generosity.
Los Altos UMC is a Reconciling Church
Reconciling churches welcome all persons into full participation in the life of the congregation regardless of age, sex, racial or ethnic background, sexual orientation, marriage status, or physical or mental condition.
Los Altos United Methodist Church welcomes ALL.
The Church Council and pastoral staff of the Los Altos United Methodist Church in Northern California reject decisions by the United Methodist General Conference to continue to withhold fundamental rights and privileges from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning (LGBTQ) community. We believe all persons are children of God, and we welcome ALL, regardless of age, cultural background, disabilities, ethnicity, financial circumstances, gender identity, martial status, religious tradition, or sexual orientation.
We affirm the words of Micah 6:8: “And what does the Lord require of you, but to act justly, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” It is our hope that we can be living and loving examples for change for our larger denomination as we strive to touch heaven and change earth with head, heart, and hands.
One Pastor’s Position on Same Sex Marriage – an opinion paper
Reconciling Ministries Network – a website with a wealth of information about the process of becoming a reconciling congregation and about a program called “All Means All.”
List of Books for Children and Young People – a list of books for children (preschool through high school).
List of Books for Adults – a list of books discussing LGBT issues in the context of the church.
Ron and Ginny Lau’s Witness of Faith – a video (06:53) – Ron and Ginny share their family’s story.
In 1950, the United Methodist Conference appointed Charles W. Cox to begin a church in the city of Los Altos on some beautiful property, owned by the Conference, across the street from Rancho Shopping Center on Fremont Avenue. In August, eighty people were gathered under the oak trees alongside the creek (approximately where the church office is situated today), a pulpit was built and, with folding chairs, they began services. As it became colder, services were held in the Los Altos Theater on Main Street.
These founding members raised money to build the first building by picking and drying apricots and selling them. The old Social Hall was the first building (Creekside Center now stands in that spot) and was used for church services, Sunday School and fellowship. Then the Sunday School building was constructed (where the library and classrooms are now) followed by the parsonage. The parsonage was razed during the major building campaign of 1998 when the new Music room and Live Oak room were built along with a new driveway and parking area. Another part of the major building campaign of 1998 was the Children’s Center that was built to accommodate up to 300 preschool children.
Click here for an informative video on the history of the church campus and buildings (6 minutes long).
The church was called “The Community Church of Los Altos.” We have always been open to the community, sharing our space and opening our doors for all to enter and have the opportunity to be part of our church community.
In 1968, the name of the Methodist Church was changed by the General Conference to United Methodist and we became the “Los Altos United Methodist Church.” We remain a church that reaches out and now have become a regional church with people attending from Morgan Hill to San Mateo, from Santa Cruz to Fremont.
We have had just a few senior pastors in our 60+ year history. Reverend Charles (Chuck) Cox served here for 19 years, Rev. Myron Herrell was here for 9 years, Rev. John Dodson was here for 21 years, Rev. Dr. Mark Bollwinkel served for 15-1/2 years, and Rev. Mariellen Yoshino served for 3 years. In July 2017, we welcomed a new senior pastor, Rev. Kathi McShane.
Today, LAUMC has 2,400 members, 750 constituents, 800 each week in worship attendance, a $2M operating budget and is one of the Northern California leaders in the United Methodist denomination. We are a group of people defined by an ever-present restlessness to do more. It is not enough for us to have experienced the power and love of God’s grace and possibility. We want to share that with others. We want to share it with the world.
Praise the Lord!