Our Spring Discernment Series
~Handouts, Notes and Recordings From the Events So Far are Now Available Below~
"The Way That Is Well for Us" is a series of events to clarify priorities for our direction at Plymouth - priorities that will guide decisions about ministries, programs, staffing and budget. The series has been designed to be broadly inclusive. It is important that all members bring open hearts and minds, and the willingness to listen deeply to each other, to the world’s needs, and to the voice of Spirit in our midst. We will be holding this process in Gracious Space, building on the work we began with Pat Hughes, leadership consultant, (Trillium Leadership and the Center for Ethical Leadership) at the All Church Retreat in 2009.
As an exercise in discernment, this series will reflect three elements:
- Willingness: Willingness to open ourselves to God and Divine guidance.
- Attentiveness: Listening and paying attention to ourselves, what’s moving within us as individuals and as a congregation.
- Responsiveness: Responding to what we’ve noticed or recognized; preparing to take action in response to what we have heard in the listening process.
Each event in our series will contain these three elements, and the series as a whole will move through the three elements in sequence.
From February through June, Pastor Brigitta and other leaders will be preaching a series of sermons on elements of call and vocation, both challenging Plymouth to think in new ways, and affirming Plymouth’s strengths.
Other events in the series include:
Leadership Retreat, Feb. 4
Members of the Council, Committees, Boards and other interested members are invited to the Leadership Retreat, which will feature author Diana Butler Bass, live via Skype, speaking from her book Christianity After Religion, which will be released in February. Bass' previous works include Christianity for the Rest of Us, The Practicing Congregation and The People's History of Christianity. Here is an excerpt from her presentation with us:
"The starting question for all of us, and it works on an individual level and on a corporate level, is “Who are we in God? Who are we with God?”…It’s a shift from a propositional identity to a prepositional identity. Communities need to not just ask the question “What plate of programs can we do to accomplish good work in the world?” That’s when you can wind up seeing all the needs and trying to do everything. There is a distinctive identity that your congregation has in God…..By linking your lives with one another and the ways in which God touches you, the ways in which you experience Spirit –(this is what) make your community profoundly unique. It’s out of those prepositions that you will draw up into the practices that God has called you to do and you will understand God in new ways. If you are thinking programmatically, you’re going to try to do everything. But if you are thinking in terms of your deepest sense of identity, you’re only going to do things that God calls you to do. And it’s the same with our personal lives. None of you does everything. Every single one of you has a sense of who you are and it’s from that sense that you do one or two or three things extraordinarily well. You only do those things that arise from your identity. That’s where churches need to start their thinking: Who are we in God? Otherwise, it becomes a mish mash, a stitched cloth of people’s pet projects, and that tears churches apart. Then it becomes about politics and power instead of identity, vocation and ministry." -Diana Butler-Bass, 2/4/12
- Summary Description (Includes Diana Butler Bass handouts)
- Audio of Diana Butler Bass Presentation
- Click to download Handout
- Click to download Discussion Notes
- Click to view a video presentation of Diana discussing ideas from Christianity After Religion
Wednesdays & Sundays In February and March
Plymouth will host a series of conversations on Wednesday nights that begin with dinner at 6:00, followed by worship, then a presentation by a guest speaker or a video, followed by small/large group discussion. Themes that emerge from these discussions will be captured by facilitators and scribes, and shared with the congregation. Each Wednesday night presentation will be videotaped and replayed on the following Sunday morning for those not able to attend Wednesday night. Sunday gatherings will be from 9:00 to 10:30 AM and will include the small/large group discussion process.
- February 8: Our One Wild and Precious Life The discernment events will be outlined and we will begin with discussion of the relationship between individual and community call/vocation. (Presentation and discussion repeated on Feb. 12) Click to download Handout Click to download Discussion Notes Click for Video Recording Click for a Summary of Week One
- February 15: What Is Your Name? Rob Bell, best-selling author of Love Wins, appears by video to ask the question “Are we so concerned with what others think that we miss being who God created us to be?” (Presentation and discussion repeated on Feb. 19) Watch the Video (the video is available pay-per-view for $1). Click to download Handout Click for a Summary of Week 2
- February 22: The Transforming Spirit: Claiming Our Strengths Joan Dennehy, pastor of Findlay Street Christian Church, shares stories that explore what transformation means in individuals lives and in congregational life. (Presentation and discussion repeated on Feb. 26) Click to download Handout Click to View Video Click for a Summary of Week 3 Click to download Discussion Notes
Note: We will not be meeting February 29. Instead, there is a Lenten concert planned at 7:00. Dinner and taize worship will precede the concert at 6:00.
- March 7: Our Work to Do: Non-profits, NGOs and The Church. John Forman, church and organizational consultant, presents on “What is the transforming work that only a church can do in this time and place?” (Presentation and discussion repeated on March 11) Click to download Handout Click to view Video Click to download Discussion Notes Click for a Summary of Week 4 Click for the Four Quadrants Handout
- March 14: Whom Shall I Send: Listening to the Spirit of Our Age. Conference Minister, Mike Denton, will present on “To what issues does the gospel point us in this time?” (Presentation and discussion repeated on March 18) Click to download Handout Click to view Video Click to download Discussion Notes Click for a Summary of Week 5
- March 21: The “S” Word: The Cycle of Surrender. Jungian therapist Judith Capili presents on archetypal processes of surrender, death and rebirth. As we head into Easter, we will discuss what this story has to say to us about our priorities and the work ahead. (Presentation and discussion repeated on March 25) Click to download Handout Click to view Video
- March 25: Discernment Conversation with Youth Forum Click to download Discussion Notes
Please attend as many of the events as possible. You are not required to attend all the events.
From Listening to Response. On Saturday, April 21 9AM to 12:30PM, we gathered to discuss ways we might respond to what we have heard during the listening events in February and March. How do we want to take action in response to all that we have discussed and heard?
In support of those who will not be able to attend the All Church Retreat in May, we have provided a report of the proceedings from April 21, and invite your comments prior to May 4. This report provides a summary of our conversations (February, March and April) and themes that are emerging for priorities. Click here for full report
All Church Retreat. May 4-6. Engaging again with the themes from the April event, we will clarify and integrate them into a set of priorities. Collaboration and partnerships may be identified. Ministry program ideas may arise. Results of the weekend will direct the decisions, work plans and budgets for staff, Council, and Boards starting in the fall. Pat Hughes will join us to facilitate this event as well. Click here for full Report.
REGISTER FOR EVENTS
Please help us plan for the Wednesday and Sunday events by registering online. Registration Form.
Please contact Susan Ford at firstname.lastname@example.org
RESOURCES TO CONSIDER
If you would like to participate more deeply in this series, consider the list of resources below for additional reading and reflection.
Christianity After Religion, by Diana Butler Bass
Gracious Space, by Patricia Hughes
Supplemental Video Resources
For Reflection & Meditation
"Roll Away Your Stone," by Mumford and Sons
Other Faith Communities
An Introduction to the Taize Community