For the Missions Marketplace in November, Anabel (age 7) wanted to contribute. She loaded up a small purse with her money and we headed off to church. Without knowing anything about money and finances, Anabel was clear that she wanted to donate her money to help others. What she really didn’t know is that all 300 of her shiny coins were only worth about $3.00. Her contribution, although small, was significant for her. She gave that money with a cheerful heart.
Money is a tricky topic. People do not like talking about money because it can be uncomfortable. As a Church, though, this is a topic that won’t be going away. Our Church is thriving right now – the pews were full on Sunday, people are excited for upcoming events, and more than anything, our community wants to help others. But excitement and the desire to serve don’t pay our bills. They don’t fix the deficit in our budget. As chair of Budget and Finance last year, it was evident that unless we want to lay off our staff, we do not have money to cut out of our budget. We can reduce a little bit here and there, but ultimately, unless people step up and contribute financially, we cannot sustain our current situation.
Our finances are not getting better, and it is time for Plymouth, as a community of believers, to make some changes. Not everyone has money to give to the Church, but many people do. If you love Plymouth and you want to see Plymouth continue to be a beacon of hope in an increasingly chaotic world, now is the time. Visit plymouthucc.org/give to learn more.
Last Program Sunday
We had tons of kids and youth come cheer & pray for our graduating seniors during the service! During Godly Play, kids created pictures of Jesus ascending into purple clouds & living on in our hearts. OWL wrapped up with a fun celebration. And our youth group celebrated the end of the year at Old Town Churn. Photos: B. DeMarco, E. Kim, B. McBride (includes gallery).
Plymouth Concert Series
Over 40 people people attended our concert series debut on a rainy Mother's Day afternoon. The rapt audience was gifted with a world class performance of sublime music by the likes of Debussy and others -- a resounding success that bodes well for the future of this concert series! Photos: Anne Thompson
Fellowship of the Grape (aka FOG)
FOG, Fellowship of the Grape, is a monthly gathering of Plymouth members and friends 21+ who gather for wine, appetizers, and great conversation. We had 22 at our April gathering, with lots of ages represented and some new Plymouth members. Watch the Overview for dates of future gatherings. Photos: Marty Marsh
Farewell to the Dilles
The Trustees Board threw a farewell potluck supper on May 22nd to thank Tom and Paula Dille for their combined 40+ years of service and friendship to this church. The Dilles are moving to North Carolina to be closer to family.
Community Rewards Update
Thank you to all of the members of Plymouth who have been participating in our King Soopers Community Rewards Program! This participation recently allowed Plymouth Church to donate an additional $1,000 to the Food Bank for Larimer County and an additional $500 to the Family Housing Network’s Faith Family Hospitality Overnight Program. (You can participate in this outreach every time you shop at King Soopers, by linking your rewards card.)
Have you seen this man?
Bill DeMarco isn't just a famous musician... he is behind the lens of some of Plymouth's most iconic photos. If you see him at church, be sure to smile. And see more of his pix here.
It’s official! As of last Friday, Roger [my husband] and my youngest daughter, Nina, have joined me at our new home in a lovely neighborhood only a couple of blocks South East of old town Timnath.
It’s also official that I passed my “culminating conversation” last week after presenting my Doctor of Ministry project at The Iliff School of Theology. I am officially a Reverend Doctor! I could not be more thrilled and humbled to be an expert in the work that I deeply love.
For those of you who are curious, the program that I applied to and have spent the past three and half years in is called Doctor of Ministry in Prophetic Leadership. After the first two years of coursework, students pick a specific area of study and research. I chose to research an intersectional feminist approach to worship. The title of my project is:
The Birthing Stool: An Intersectional Feminist Approach to Worship.
To all the pastors birthing something new.
To all the clergy that want to do something different.
To all the churches brave enough to break the mold.
This project is for you.
I know that I will share pieces of this project with this community over time, but here is a nugget:
The Birthing Stool. This image and metaphor of a birthing stool came from feminist scholar Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz. In Muerista's theological and liturgical understanding, church liturgy requires our whole bodies. The birthing stool is a tool that assists with birthing something brand new. It is a deeply spiritual structure that requires relationship and presence. It is an image used to create something new that can be simultaneously exciting but also deeply uncomfortable. The birthing stool was used before male physicians dominated the delivery room and were tended by a community supporting a child's birth. There was always a community of people surrounding the stool. The midwife, doula, grandmothers, and sisters all tend to the new birth around the stool.
I believe that the church can make room for the authentic and lived experiences of intersectional feminism. This work is not individualistic but communal. This work is not perfect, but practiced. This work is necessary and also messy. An intersectional feminist approach to worship will birth something new and incredible within the worshiping community, but it will take the support and care of everyone - like the birthing stool.
In the spirit of the birthing stool - communal ministry and practice, [and now that I am officially here!], I welcome invitations to get to know all of you more deeply. I am open to walks and coffee/lunch [really, any food!] or simply an office visit. My door is always open.
Can you believe this is the end of my second program year with Christian Formation? This past Sunday, I had my second annual Parent Partnership meetings, where we evaluated the last year’s ministry and set goals for next year.
We got to celebrate how this school year brought so much of our life back: OWL, Confirmation, Godly Play, weekly Sunday School, youth group, La Foret, the Car Wash, the Book Sale, the coffee cart… the list could go on. And we had discussions about where we can still grow: making worship more accessible to kids, centering youth voices and youth leadership, and recreating a dedicated ministry for tweens, to name a few.
If you would be interested in volunteering with Christian Formation next year, please don’t hesitate to contact me. We have lots of big dreams, and it will take many hands to make them all happen.
All of that said, I am intimately aware of the fact that at this time of year, we are all so tired. We are all so ready for the summer sunshine and a slightly slower pace of life. I know this is especially true for all of us still connected to school, but I think this is true across the board. It seems life came back busier than ever. My prayer is that this summer might offer us the space to find balance again.
And so, I would like to offer this brief centering prayer or meditation that I wrote for our families as we’re wrapping up this season:
Take a breath in. This year has been full of good fun!
Let your breath out. By the end of this month, we'll be on summer break.
Take a breath in. We had a great year,
Let your breath out. And we will have a restful summer.
A fundamental tenet of the Reformation was the priesthood of all believers, the idea that individuals do not need a priestly intermediary to communicate with God. The other implication is that ministry doesn’t belong to the clergy, but to all of us who form the church, the body of Christ in the world. All of us — lay and clergy — work together as the church. And it takes all of us to keep the church vital.
One of the things we realized in creating our budget for 2023 is that we would need to cut ministerial positions by about 37 percent, because income was not able to support 2.7 full-time ministers (the positions that JT, Jane Anne, and I filled). So, we were blessed to find Marta Fioriti as our full-time settled associate minister to work alongside me as a colleague in ordained ministry. Things are going well with this model so far!
Our approach in Marta’s first two months is for us to both participate in at least part of each board, committee, and council meeting together. Part of the reason was that Marta needs to get to know our members and vice versa. Another purpose was to see how our boards and committees were operating and where one of us might be the most help.
Working together, Marta and I have planned a division of labor that is based on the current staffing structure, where the needs are, and the requirements of Plymouth’s constitution. It also reflects where our own skills and passions lie.
What have had to cut staffing for adult education, the position that Mark Lee filled in 16 hours a week and that Jane Anne later took over in 8 hours a week. The Christian Formation Board and their ministry teams are working hard to make this work with both forums and other studies. This is lay ministry at work!
The other shift, recommended by our consultant, John Wimberly, is that clergy relationships with boards will be more like coaches, rather than players on the field. Each of us will be in touch with a board, attending a part of their meetings, and will be available for consulting as needed. It may take a little getting used to, but we’re already on the way!
Marta and I wanted to share with you who will be doing what, which is a little different than it has been. It’s also critically important to recognize that Brooklyn McBride will be solo staff for the Christian Formation Board and that Phil Braudaway-Bauman will be solo staff for the Board of Trustees and the Budget & Finance Committee. So, here is our plan:
Supervision of Staff
Marta will supervise Brooklyn McBride
Hal continues as head of staff and will supervise Marta, Mark Heiskanen, and Phil Braudaway-Bauman (who supervises Barb Gregory and Anna Broskie).
Both Hal and Marta will provide emergency on-call care (anytime day or night!) and also will share general pastoral care as well. Feel free to call on either of us. (Reminder: If you are having surgery and would like a pre-op prayer, we’re happy to do that! And we’re happy to visit you in the hospital if you wind up there for any reason. But with HIPAA regulations, you need to let us know you are there, which hospital, and that you’d like a visit; we have no other way of knowing.)
Marta will support our lay caregiving teams: both the Congregational Visitors and Stephen Ministers
Boards, Committees, and Council
Marta will be the staff liaison with the Boards of Congregational Life, Deacons, and Outreach & Mission.
Hal will be the staff liaison with the Leadership Council, Board of Stewardship, and the Personnel and Nominating Committees.
Marta will preach on average once per month.
Hal will preach on average three Sundays a month.
This is a good occasion to remind all of us that Plymouth’s ministry does not belong just to Marta and me; it belongs to each of us. It’s part of what we commit to as members of Plymouth, and it also helps build a robust faith for each of us.
I am grateful to have each of you as a partner in ministry!