November 8, 2016
Next year, I celebrate being a member of Plymouth Church for 10 years. This decade of being part of the Plymouth community has been a transformative experience. From singing in the choir to being on two different boards, participating in Plymouth U’s and attending many N Sid Sen camps and Men’s Retreats, I actively involve myself in the life of this community.
I was particularly blessed and challenged to be part of the Community Service and Social Action Board for six years. In that role, I saw the face and complexity of homelessness in our city through our work with Mary’s Place. I spent time with formerly homeless people who seek to overcome mental illness and addiction at Recovery Café. I championed and continue to support our ongoing involvement in the Justice Leadership program through the Pacific Northwest Conference of the UCC.
I am now involved in Plymouth’s developing relationship with Village of Hope, which helps me confront my own racism and challenges us all to confront and help undo society’s institutional racism. Work begins by white-skinned people like me recognizing and owning the 400-year history and reality of white privilege and its impact on ourselves and our society.
These are experiences I had here at Plymouth. They changed the way I relate to the many people in great need outside these walls and the way I view my own faith. They taught me the practice of love, justice and compassion is God’s work in this world. They helped reshape what I understand to be “Christian.” I now believe God’s call to us is not to worship Jesus, but to follow Him and do what He did. I believe God’s call to us is to resist the fear that keeps us from being a community of divine resistance to the injustice of our times. I believe God’s call to us is to be a counterbalance to prevailing culture; comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.
Plymouth Church has been a major catalyst for changes I have experienced in the decade. Despite its imperfections, its failures to live up to the ideal, Plymouth Church for me has been a place of love, support and challenge. This is my church. You are my community. I’m In. As you contemplate your financial support to Plymouth for 2017, I challenge you to consider the impact this faith community has had on your life. Are you in? – Don Bell