Father John Buenz (September 1967 – March 1973)
In 1965 the city of San Jose was beginning to develop Almaden Valley. Ward McCabe was rector of St. Mark’s, Santa Clara, a noted mentor for a succession of young clergy, and Chairman of the Diocese of California Department of Missions. It was his vision to found a new congregation in Almaden Valley. He shared his vision, considered parcels for purchase and recruited prospective pioneers for a then virtual congregation.
While persuading California Bishops Myers and Millard on the viability of his project, he discovered his founding priest in Father John Buenz. The Almaden Valley United Church of Christ (AVUCC) had preceded ECA’s arrival. AVUCC had a prune drying shed as their meeting place. It had originally been converted to church use by the newly founded Holy Spirit Catholic parish. John Buenz persuaded AVUCC’s pastor Frank Jaggers, the people in both congregations and the Diocese to approve the radical vision of cooperating in the form or a Joint Venture. In this Joint Venture AVUCC contributed the property. ECA contributed $20,000, which it had previously received as seed money from an interested San Franciscan who had just sold his candy factory.
After five years the founding process was complete and the Joint Venture and both congregations were growing and operating smoothly. Under Fr. John Buenz’s guidance, and with the support of Fr. Richard Younge, the congregation grew from 35 to 95 pledging families.
Father Michael Creighton (August 1973 – February 1981)
Father Mike Creighton was called to ECA from San Francisco. Mike and his wife Betty had two sons, Christopher, who was 5, and Ken, who was 2. Mike introduced children’s sermons to ECA, a time when kids gathered around him to listen and learn. The sermons were geared toward kids but the adults found them just as interesting as the kids did.
In those days many people came to the area to work in the relatively new, exciting and flourishing electronics industry of Silicon Valley. One of the reasons ECA was such a vital fellowship was that the church was a primary contact for meeting people and creating community. During Fr. Mike’s tenure we grew to 124 pledging families and matured in many ways. The Joint Venture worked well. ECA received strong spiritual leadership from (now retired bishop) Mike and Betty Creighton, who taught, laughed, challenged and loved ECA. We sponsored the first of four Vietnamese refugee families in 1978.
Fr. Mike accepted a call to St. Stephen’s in Seattle in February 1981.
Father Robert Swope (February 1982 – September 1984)
The Rev. Robert Swope became our rector in February 1982. He was a very religious man and a spiritual leader but he and the congregation were not a good match. After a difficult period for everyone he resigned in 1984.
Father Nolan Redman (September 1986 – June 2002)
The Rev. Nolan Redman answered our call in the fall of 1986. Nolan and his wife, Ann, came to us from their home state of Washington. Under the loving spiritual guidance of Nolan and the supportive efforts of Ann ECA continued to blossom as a committed Christian community. A wide variety of ministerial and service opportunities were introduced during the time Nolan was with us. While living in the rectory Nolan and Ann opened their home for Bible studies and fellowship events for everyone. Nolan and Ann were early leaders in the success of the newly created Santa Maria Urban Mission, our diocesan downtown outreach project. They heavily supported the Cursillo movement and always could be found helping out with feeding the homeless through our church-sponsored Montgomery Meals program. Ann’s fun-loving nature was always a springboard for laughter. Nolan’s love for Christ and ECA was evident in all he touched and he was ECA’s longest serving rector. During his tenure with ECA the parish flourished. He and Ann left us to retire to their native state of Washington in July of 2002.
Father Stephen Mills (September 2002 – August 2009)
In August 2002 the Rev. Stephen Mills was called as Rector. Under his leadership and spiritual guidance ECA continued its wide variety of ministries in our valley and around the world. The parish has had to deal with the increasing pressures of modern family life which consume energy and time, which has traditionally been reserved for church activities. Yet ECA found the time and energy to organize a large party for its 40th anniversary, where we invited all former rectors and parishioners. It was a great time to reconnect with past friends. Fr. Stephen retired in August 2009.
Reverend Kate Flexer (January 2011…)
The Rev. Kate Flexer began her ministry as rector of ECA in January of 2011. Kate and her husband Jim and their children Frances and Benjamin moved to San Jose from New York City, where Kate served as Associate Rector at St. Michael’s Church.
Assembly of Rectors Emeritus and Founders at ECA’s 40 year anniversary