Organ Dedication Concert:

2 & 5 pm, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015 

Plymouth Church Sanctuary

Ethiopian child 2

Over 500 people attended CB Fisk’s open house to christen Plymouth’s new organ. Music was performed by many different generations of musicians; composers improvised and the assembled group sang along while Doug Cleveland played hymns. Three new compositions have already been written in its honor. (five year old Richard, plays Plymouth’s new organ.)

Click here for your pledge form.

Plymouth members approved the proposal for a three-year Capital Campaign to fund sanctuary improvements. Approximately 165 members attended the Special Congregational Meeting Sunday, November 17. The motion, made by Greg Harris, proposed a capital campaign goal of $1.25M for the purpose of funding sanctuary improvements and administrative costs. Improvements will be concurrent with installation of the Fisk Organ. The Church Council will be responsible for finalizing and administrating improvement plans.

Click here to contribute to the campaign.

Click here to view photos of the organ under construction.

History of the Campaign

Nearly 200 Plymouth members participated in the Sanctuary Improvement Feasibility Study conducted over the summer by the Collins Group.  That’s an amazing response!  Thank you so much for your dedication and your feedback.  The study provided great insight into the excitement, concerns, and priorities of the congregation. 

Key insights from the study

Based on these findings, the Congregational Council took the following steps at its September meeting:

Members’ Thoughts about the Sanctuary

In general, study participants think some sanctuary improvements are warranted and that it makes sense to time those improvements when the sanctuary is closed for the organ installation.  However, most study participants felt the full $2.5M sanctuary renovation as proposed was not integral to furthering Plymouth’s mission, and that a return on that investment was not evident. 

Since the September meeting of the Congregational Council, SIPC has come back with recommendations that address several components for the Sanctuary that the survey indicated were high importance:

  1. Improved sound and acoustics
  2. Repairs and improvements to lighting (though reduced in scope from original proposal)  
  3. Chancel extension and interior painting 
  4. Some changes to chairs and pews (sanctuary seating will continue to combine chairs and pews) including carpet removal  and refinishing the floor

Details about these priorities will be available soon on our website.  The cost of the proposed capital Campaign will be no more than $1.25 million.  This amount will include costs of improvements as well as development costs and fees associated to the campaign.

Other Findings

The other most significant finding from the feasibility study was the deep concern we have about declining membership.  While efforts to address this concern have been ongoing, the Council agrees that increased membership and participation must be an even higher priority. Therefore, the Council is establishing a task force to increase and coordinate efforts for growth and outreach. The task force will elevate and expand efforts that are working. The task force will also deliver a detailed plan to the Council in the spring with guidance on new growth strategies. Please reach out to Moderator Mark Sandstrom if you are interested in serving on this task force.

Click here to read the Executive Summary of the Collins Report.

Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.

If you are unable to access these reports from the website, please contact the office, and a paper copy will be printed for you.

November 17, 2013, Plymouth members voted to authorize a capital campaign of $1.25 million to fund improvements to our sanctuary. Below are answers to frequently-asked questions about the campaign and the improvement project.

The most cost-effective way to make the sanctuary fixes and improvements is to coordinate them with structural work already taking place for organ installation. Furthermore, raising the money now, so sanctuary improvements can be done concurrently with the organ installation, will prevent having to close the sanctuary a second time.

None. Costs of the organ and its installation, except for $50,000 related to feeding and housing the Fisk workers, have already been covered. We hope to fill the remaining $50,000 gap with in-kind donations from Plymouth members and friends. 

All of the $1.25M will go to sanctuary improvements and associated administrative and consulting fees, including the cost of running the capital campaign. If more than $1.25M is raised, other enhancements, like more flexible seating arrangements, may be considered. 

  1. Improved sound and acoustics
  2. Repairs and enhancements to lighting
  3. Chancel extension and minor associated seating adjustments
  4. Interior painting and floor refinishing
  5. Pulley system for banners
  6. Design, consulting and administrative fees; taxes; and contingencies

The Council and SIPC (Sanctuary Improvement Project Committee) recognize and honor the historical, spiritual and covenantal significance of the Nisei-donated cross. That cross will continue to hold a prominent place in the sanctuary to provide comfort and inspiration to all who enter. We are also exploring the possibility of a new artist-designed cross that could sit on the chancel and also be portable for placement in other worship spaces.

The current tentative schedule is to close the sanctuary in April 2014, and reopen in October, 2014. However, this schedule includes multiple workstreams and dependencies and is subject to change.

The current plan is for the seating to remain unchanged except for replacing the two front rows of pews with chairs. More extensive reconfiguration would cost between $80,000 and $100,000, and because it wasn’t identified by the congregation as one of the highest priorities, it is currently beyond the scope of this campaign.

However, SIPC is still exploring different options to allow greater seating flexibility in the center section, particularly options that would provide a center aisle. If the campaign raises more money, or if some contingency funds built into the budget are not needed, alternative seating options may be proposed.

There are no plans for an additional capital campaign at this time. However, our church is growing and changing, and we listen for God’s voice as we look to the future.  Future initiatives may require future campaigns.

Members and visitors alike are frustrated by not being able to hear and see what’s happening in worship. These problems can prevent people from returning a second time. Younger people in particular are turned off by obvious technical problems like sound and lights cutting in and out.  Audio and lighting problems discourage some groups from renting our sanctuary to hold events that would bring more visitors through our doors.

Council and staff recognize that outreach to those outside the Plymouth community is of paramount importance. Current efforts like children’s concerts and hospitality initiatives are underway. The council is also appointing a Task Force to provide recommendations for other actions that will drive increased membership and participation.

Large display screens and similar enhancements are not part of this project. However, SIPC is considering technical infrastructure needed to support such changes in the future.

Possibly. SIPC will investigate different floor treatments and finishes to mitigate this potential issue.

The only thing that might require “undoing” of work in the future would be putting the pews back in place. Pews must be removed to refinish the floor. The current plan calls for returning pews in the same configuration. If we later decide on a more flexible seating arrangement, we would have to remove the pews again. We have until summer to make final seating decision.

While some changes to the walls are still being investigated and considered, these are outside the scope of the $1.25 million project. 

The capital campaign will be active through June 2014, and will reach out to all Plymouth members before that time. Everyone will have plenty of opportunity to participate! If you would like to make a pledge now, you may pick up pledge forms at the church office. If you would like to make a gift to the campaign, you may send it to the church office. You may also donate through the Plymouth website ( Make sure you clearly note that the donation is for the capital campaign. 

It is important that we all work together to raise the $1.25 million for project scope as it was presented by the council and approved by the congregation. If we collectively pledge more than $1.25 million, or if the project comes in under budget, then we can consider additional improvements.

If you would like to discuss the sanctuary improvement project or the capital campaign in more detail, please feel free to contact Tom Maul (, 206.380.7547) or Catie Wilson (, 425.703.3157), Capital Campaign Co-chairs


Sanctuary improvements enabled by the capital campaign affirm our commitment to a vibrant future for Plymouth in the heart of the city. Improvements will revitalize our sacred space to engage new participants, be they longtime regional residents, out of town travelers, neighbors from the street or urban dwellers -- continuing to inspire all in gathered community to worship, praise, sing, rejoice, mourn and consecrate the passages of our lives with God and with each other.