Our History

Sleepy Hollow Presbyterian Church Brief History, February 2023

SHPC has its roots in Second Presbyterian Church, San Anselmo, organized in 1908. In 1948, the church celebrated its growth and the ordination of its own pastor with a change of name to Trinity Presbyterian Church.  In 1957, Trinity dissolved to form a new church in Sleepy Hollow.  Members met in the home of Dr. Jessie Baird of the San Francisco Theological Seminary (located in San Anselmo) until a new building was constructed at 100 Tarry Road. December 6, 1959, saw groundbreaking at the current SHPC site.  In June of 1960, the first service was held in the present SHPC building.  The church bell, purchased by the Ladies’ Auxiliary from the SF Fire Department off a fireboat in the early 1900’s, was thereafter returned to the church.

The church has been ably served by the Rev. Gene Burris, the Rev. Ben Kinney, the Rev. Don Emmel, the Revs. Andy and Wendy Dreitcer, Interim Pastor Rev. Renée Rico, Dr. Tici Truly, and 27 year Music Minister Stephen Iverson, who retired in January 2022.

In July 2011, the Session hired the Rev. Beverly Brewster (“Pastor Bev”) as Temporary Pastor, to revitalize the church. Pastor Bev was called and installed as permanent Pastor at a joyful service on October 7, 2012. The church upgraded its lower level to accommodate a state licensed preschool, and then welcomed the Little Mountain Preschool in 2013.  The school helped build an imaginative playground in the church’s back yard, and continues to be a joyful nature-based learning community.

With the vision and leadership of Pastor Bev’s life partner, Dr. Michael Durphy, and Elder Patti Vance, the church founded the Justice Garden in its back yard in 2014, to grow organic sustainably-produced vegetables for hunger relief. SHPC’s seasonal Saturday Farm Stand on Butterfield Road shares Justice Garden produce, featuring over a dozen varieties of heirloom tomatoes, with the community and raises thousands of dollars  for hunger programs each year.  In 2021, elder Patti Vance founded the Tomato Plant Sale for the benefit of hunger relief programs domestic and worldwide.  Well over a hundred happy gardeners support this sale annually.

The church added a rainwater catchment tank to irrigate the Justice Garden and solar panels to its roof, to lead the community in environmental stewardship.  In 2018, after a rigorous study and discussion process, the church sold the church manse, which had been lovingly built for the Dreitcer family.  The church paid off its encumbrances and founded a capital investment fund for capital improvements and investment income.

On March 17, 2020 when the pandemic lockdown took effect, Elder Janel Leatherman Stewart leapt into action and set up zoom worship, so that the church was able to continue offering vibrant Sunday worship every Sunday throughout these challenging years. Elder Koren Grubb and her husband, John Grubb, faithfully set up and livestreamed outdoor worship for two spring – fall years.

In the summer of 2020, Richard Peltzman, Elder Ahmed AbuAly, Elder Dennis Latta, and Bill O’Callaghan provided the leadership, vision, and hard work to bring the church a remodeled lower level inside and out, making the church more welcoming to the mobility-challenged.  With the generous donation of Richard’s expertise in cabinetry, the church gained an attractive new kitchen.

In 2021, the team reconvened and hired a contractor to renovate the upstairs, installing windows in the north sanctuary wall and a retractable door in the west wall.  The church now offers indoor-outdoor worship, with a beautiful well-ventilated sanctuary.  The upper yard was transformed into a worship patio with inspiring views.

SHPC’s renowned Mexico Mission homebuilding trip completed over 20 annual trips with mission partner AMOR, but has been on hiatus since COVID hit in 2020.

The church’s mission work includes the Justice Garden, Farm Stand, Tomato Plant Sale, Laurel Dell Elementary School edible garden installation and ongoing hunger relief, San Pedro Elementary School after-school enrichment, Green Team, Racial Equity Team, Canal Alliance worker support, immigrant and asylum seeker advocacy and support, criminal justice reform advocacy, partnering with National Religious Campaign against Torture, teen wellbeing advocacy, behavioral health education and advocacy, partnering with Marin Interfaith Street Chaplaincy to advocate for and be in solidarity with the unhoused community, support for low income seniors at the Victory Village, holiday gifts for  Marin Foster Care Association foster children and CASA families, and interfaith peacemaking.

Our Youth program is rebuilding from COVID under the leadership of Family Ministries Elder Anna Welch.  The church Youth Pageant and family-friendly Christmas Eve service have been great successes with terrific youth participation.

Sunday Worship is vibrant and joyful for all ages, with Interim Pastor Sherri Hausser’s children’s message a favorite for the children and adults alike.  Music Director Alex Walker, Children’s Music Leader Pam Selvig, our Choir, and Adult and Youth Bands bring the joy of music to all ages, and to all seasons of the life of the church.

The church welcomes all and is an intentional peacemaking community.