November 13, 2018
I joined Plymouth church in 1998, partly in response to Tony Robinson’s preaching that stimulated my thinking, and because of the great music and warm fellowship I experienced here. Plymouth helped welcome me home following my seven years of life and work in Cleveland, Ohio for the national United Church of Christ.
One special Plymouth memory stands out. As Conference Minister in the 70’s and 80’s, and member of another church, I heard of the beginnings and hopes of what is now Plymouth Housing, and the mental health ministry which led to Plymouth Healing Communities. In each case, listening to Edie Lackland talk about the potential for Plymouth Housing, and from Craig Rennebohm about his vision for a mental health ministry on the streets of Seattle, I was able to invest small but significant amounts of Conference Funds as startup funds, betting “if you will” on those incipient visions.
Now they are each growing, expanding, vital ministries which I have regularly celebrated and supported for more than 20 years. I feel grateful that I “bet on their future” when they were little more than dreams.
I have often participated deeply in Men’s Retreats at Pilgrim Firs in the spring and summer family camps at N-Sid-Sen. Outdoor settings and lots of fresh air stimulate deeper conversations about faith and life and offer times for deep rest. For all those weeks I am grateful.
Today at Plymouth, I am grateful for our expanding racial awareness, pain and insights, from book studies to sermons, and from hearing of trips to places at the core of the civil rights struggles in the South. My mind and heart are moved by these multiple experiences.
Enhancing our worship life, our varied worship and music experiences seem increasingly welcoming and inclusive. For that, and so much more, I am grateful to be part of Plymouth Church, United Church of Christ in 2018.
What do I bring? Gratitude for much of Plymouth’s history, willingness to help welcome newcomers who have only heard about that history and a sense of joy and hope for Plymouth’s emerging future. Thank you. –Rev. Jim Halfaker