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 sChildcare Providederies 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

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.

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.

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?

Report Online

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.


Please help us plan for the Wednesday and Sunday events by registering online. Registration Form.


Please contact Susan Ford at island1167@comcast.net


If you would like to participate more deeply in this series, consider the list of resources below for additional reading and reflection.


Decision Making and Spiritual Discernment: The Sacred Art of Finding Your Way, by Nancy Beiber

Christianity After Religion, by Diana Butler Bass

Gracious Space, by Patricia Hughes

Supplemental Video Resources

On Following Jesus: One Pastor's Story

Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability (TED talk) 

Brene Brown: Listening to Shame (TED talk)

Brene Brown:  Love Weeps

For Reflection & Meditation

"Roll Away Your Stone," by Mumford and Sons

Other Faith Communities

An Introduction to the Taize Community


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