As I snuck into church on Sunday, a few minutes late, I was elated (and also a little embarrassed) as I found myself gently nudging into a spot in the front row. The pews were packed, leaving very little room for those of us who spent more than a few minutes wrangling small children. My usual spot is in the back left, so the front row was a new experience. And from my prime seat, I was struck by one of the questions for the Instant Sermon – Why go to church?
The reality is that Sunday morning is just one opportunity for us to “go to church.” A very important part of Plymouth involves Sunday worship, but that is just a blip of what Plymouth is about. As Moderator, I am the head of Leadership Council. That title may be meaningful to some, but prior to my time in this role, I didn’t even know the role of Leadership Council or Plymouth’s Moderator. What many people may not realize is that Plymouth is a seemingly endless web of opportunities to engage in “going to church.” Leadership Council oversees six boards and five committees. Each board has countless ministry teams, and on any given day, there are a handful of meetings and opportunities to help Plymouth, our community, and communities abroad.
There is nothing wrong with being a back pew Plymouth member. I have quite enjoyed the many hours spent with that view. But Plymouth is so much more than Sunday mornings. Plymouth is an amazing network of volunteerism, which breathes life into our congregation. But don’t fear! – whether you just need a brief reminder of what Plymouth has going on, or if the words “boards,” “communities,” “council,” and “ministry teams” are completely foreign, now is your chance to learn and engage!
On Jubilee Sunday, September 10, Plymouth is having an Involvement Fair between services. So if you’re ready to “go to church,” in a different way, please come see all the opportunities to get involved. Oh, and did I mention you could win a fresh-baked pie?
Potluck at Rolland Moore Park
Our second try at the outdoor worship and potluck was wonderful!
A "band cam" moment from the outdoor worship service.
More clips in our website gallery (button at bottom).
Welcome Event for International & Housing Insecure CSU Students
Marty Marsh writes: The morning was an inspiration, and I'm proud to be a member of Plymouth. So much work goes into this event, and it is wonderful to be in the Fellowship Hall and see how excited students are to be getting all of these items to "make a home" here at CSU. We are doing great work. Lots more photos in Gallery.
Plymouth was well represented at the August meeting of the Fort Collins Interfaith Council where the main program was on the prevention of gun violence, specifically the safe storage of firearms. If you are interested in the FCIC, please sign up for their newsletter at fortcollinsinterfaith.org.
More moments from the past month...
Marta & Brooklyn at Laughing Buck Farm (belongs to members Rosemary & Greg), youth at the movies, summer choir, kids in the nursery.
Do you have a ministry highlight to share?
Be part of the 4th Tuesday email. Visit plymouthucc.org/shine
Last night, I sat on the back patio of a friend and colleague, sipping yummy drinks and eating a slice of pizza. As the sun went down and the mosquitos came out, we chatted about all things church and life. Her wild garden of corn and beans and squash sprawled out among us. She told me that she was working on a "three sisters" garden. Corn, beans, and squash crops are known as the Three Sisters. For centuries these three crops have been the center of Native American agriculture and culinary traditions. It is for a good reason, as these three crops complement each other nutritionally in the garden. My soul became whole in the glow of late summer among sprawling crops.
I’ve always said that I am a big believer in the theological concept called “the priesthood of all believers.” This doctrine asserts that all humans have access to God through Christ. In many ways, this introduced a democratic element in the church's functioning, meaning all Christians were equal: clergy/priests and parishioners. It also means that we are all ministers within a congregational setting, unfolding God’s kin-dom* together. I have seen this happen in many ways over my first six months serving with all of you at Plymouth.
In my first week or so, I was introduced to Plymouth’s Stephen Ministers program. The Stephen Minister’s name came from Acts 6:8; the apostles commissioned Stephen to do acts of pastoral care. For Plymouth and many churches, The Stephen Ministers program is trained laypeople that expand the pastor's care by providing quality caring ministry.
There is much to say about our Stephen Ministers program and the people at Plymouth that serve in this vital capacity, witnessing and practicing active listening to care receivers at Plymouth. But, more than anything, this program is a beacon to the church that reminds me of what the church is for and what we are in the business of doing.
Last night, my colleague said, “I think the church ‘universal’ has forgotten that their role is to provide soul-nurturing.” In other words, our product is about tending to our souls in the way a gardener tends to her crop. Perhaps the church is like the Three Sisters garden, a vital ecosystem that complements each other nutritionally so that our souls are cared for during the winter seasons of life.
As a pastor, I began to think of the idea that the church is in the business of soul-nurturing. I am grateful for our Stephen Minister’s program and the work of specially trained volunteers who listen actively and walk with congregants during the darkest periods of life or when the soul simply needs to be nurtured.
P.S. To learn more about being a Stephen Minister at Plymouth, visit their page.
To request a Stephen Minister at Plymouth, contact me.
*Kingdom” suggests a vertical hierarchy and power-over, “kin-dom” suggests a horizontal solidarity and power-with.
It has been wonderful to see so many of you participate in Plymouth's music ministry this summer, thank you! From the Summer Choir outings (last one on August 20....come join us!) to musicians offering their talents on the occasional Sunday morning to the pop-up "eclectic service" appearances once a month (i.e. the 9:00 a.m. service worship style), the vibrancy has been yet another welcome sign of our emergence from COVID stasis to abundant life.
Shall we continue this trend into the next program year? We surely can with your interest and participation!
If you have even the slightest curiosity in supporting Plymouth's musical worship life, I encourage you to consider participating in the Chancel Choir or Plymouth Ringers this year. We are a merry band who enjoy each other's company and the joy of making music together. We would love to have you with us!
New routines are hard to begin understandably, especially in today's often busy multifaceted lifestyle. I find namely two reasons though why some folks are hesitant to participate when they would like to consider doing so. These reasons are:
I can assure you if you wish to sing or ring this year, we can make it happen. We would love for you to be with our merry band in whatever capacity you are able. Feel free to speak with me with your interest or questions after worship or contact me via the contact form or by phone at (970) 482-9212 ext. 116.
Ensemble rehearsals this fall begin on Wednesday, September 6. Plymouth Ringers rehearse in the Forum Room from 6:00 - 6:45 p.m. The Chancel Choir meets in the sanctuary from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
I hope you will consider taking part in Plymouth's music ministry this year. As you can see, I promise we will make it very easy for you to join in! Let's continue the vital musical and worshipful expressions of voice and instrumental timbres for years to come. Together.
One of our staff exclaimed last week, “Summer ISN’T over!” And even though today is the first day of August, I concur…it is still Summer!
We do have some fantastic events coming up in the fall, but before we get to that, we have some engaging and exciting community worship and events on the way. Here are a few highlights in the coming weeks and months.
Sunday, August 6
New to Plymouth? Join the clergy for Taste and See after the morning service and bring questions you have about Plymouth.
Saturday, August 12
Our annual homewares giveaway for international students and those experiencing housing insecurity happens in our parking lot! (Drop off donated goods beginning this coming Sunday, 8/6.)
Sunday, August 13
Since we were rained out at our first outdoor worship attempt in June, we’re going to give it another try! Join us at Rolland Moore Park for worship at 10:00 with Blessing the Backpacks for all students and stay and join us for a potluck afterward.
Sunday, August 27
Instant Sermon Sunday! Got theological questions? Wondered where we go when we die? Where is mainline Christianity headed? How can I deepen my spiritual journey? Marta and I will do our best to answer your questions submitted the previous week…on the spot!
Friday, September 8
RAWtools, a nonprofit that creates garden tools from firearms (like swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks) will be with us for an evening event that will include a presentation, ice cream, demonstration of forging garden tools, ice cream, a special labyrinth walk, and ice cream. Great for all ages!
Saturday, September 9
RAWtools will work with volunteers from Plymouth and Longmont UCC to host a gun buy-back for the community.
Sunday, September 10
Jubilee Sunday! It’s our annual back-to-church celebration! We return to our two-service format (9 & 11) and we are having an Involvement Fair during the 10:00 hour. Each of our boards will have a table (hosting their Ministry Teams).
Sunday October 1
Our Visiting Scholar, Diana Butler Bass, will be preaching at both 9:00 and 11:00 and later in the day, Diana will be offering a workshop. (More details later!) It’s a great day to invite a friend to Plymouth to hear a renowned author and historian.
There is a lot more to being part of Plymouth than engaging, fun events, though they tend to draw us together. Each of us individually and as part of God’s gathered people are on a spiritual journey that takes twists and turns and ups and downs. Even as we enjoy the last full month of summer weather and as we walk into the busyness of fall, I invite you to be intentional about your spiritual life. Pay attention to where you are feeling called to get engaged and give your time. Be intentional about carving out time daily and weekly to be in touch with God. And savor how good it is to be part of this community of faith.