Who are we as Church? 

March 14, 2018

It’s a rare sunny Saturday morning and nearly 40 people voluntarily show up at 9 am in the church Lounge to participate in the 2018 Plymouth Leadership retreat. Armed with coffee, tea, bagels and fruit, we randomly gather at rounds of 8 to 10 and visit until Moderator Lori Kaid, gets to the business of the day with a daunting agenda. Rev. Kelle Brown grounds us in our purpose with prayer and Bing Tso, our Vice Moderator, reviews the Plymouth Ecosystem, a series of intersecting circles that comprise our Co-ministers, Staff, Council, Boards, Ministry teams and other groups.

We discuss this handout as a tool to visualize how the different circles of our ‘ecosystem’ can more dynamically intersect and integrate into our shared bigger mission and vision, “Together we can accomplish a lot,” adds Lori.

We reviewed the Action Plan 2.0, a comprehensive document developed several years ago by a dedicated group of Plymouth individuals. Designed as a flexible, yet prescriptive ‘living document,’ the Action Plan provides a framework from which Plymouth continues to move forward with goals and objectives revised along the way. We took a moment to acknowledge and celebrate Action Plan tenets that we painstakingly achieved, specifically stabilization of our ministerial team, the success of implementing alternative worship options and increasing Faith Formation opportunities. “The process has moved us forward and today we want your ideas and thoughts for next steps,” says Lori.

Rev. Kelle Brown and Rev. Steven Davis shared their collaborative vision 2018 and beyond, starting with Micah 6:8 - God has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of your but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God? Heads nodding unanimously, Rev. Kelle Brown asked a few questions of us, including the hard ones, such as “What is progressive?” “Who are we as church and how do others see us?” “Are we a church of abundance or scarcity?”

Definitively radical and inclusive, Plymouth Church UCC, is held by Micah’s three pillars: Do Justice, Love Kindness and Walk…Humbly. Each pillar helps define who we are and who we want to be in God’s service. “We are all part of this transformative process and poised to become the church of the future.” says Rev. Steve Davis.

As a justice community, we are tasked as individuals and as a congregation, to authentically ‘live’ the vision and core values of honoring our leadership, investing responsibility, inclusion and intersectionality. And that means infusing action into every day, not just Sundays. To Love Kindness, we are a people of compassion, unapologetically Christian, committed to liberation and hope. Alternative faith community may mean expanding our prison ministry, building more on-line church opportunities, growing our covenant groups and/or seeking partnerships with struggling sister congregations where a progressive theological voice is critical.

When we met in small groups, I felt lucky to land in Faith Formation. Making room for more folks around the table, I was most struck by the enthusiasm expressed by each person. Making faith relevant every day and building relationships are important to Plymouth people! Ideas bounced like popcorn, from ways to use our flexible Sanctuary space, to OWL (Our Whole Lives) workshops for all ages, more collaboration with other Pacific Northwest UCC congregations, building on-line communities, more inter-generational activities and connecting all the dots with Do Justice, Love Kindness and Walk…Humbly.

Meanwhile, other tables too were deeply engaged in discussing new directions for Nominating, CSSA (Community Service and Social Action) and Community and Care. While our time together was short, it was well spent and ended on a hopeful, upbeat note with more to come.

The first of several 2018 Congregational Conversations takes place this Sunday after 11 am service in the Sanctuary. Please join us; hear from your leadership and be a part of the exciting ways we are moving forward together as God’s Beloved Community at Plymouth. –Janice Randall, Director of Communications



Topics: Church Life

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