Ministry Highlights for Sept. 2023
Gun Violence Prevention Weekend
Plymouth hosted a weekend of experiential education and witness to be one part of the puzzle in ending gun violence. Friday night was a community gathering for all ages, featuring a panel including Mike Martin of RAWtools, a blacksmith demonstration of gun dismantling, a labyrinth walk in solidarity with survivors and victims, and ice cream sundaes. Saturday morning was a gun buyback. Photos by Marilu Theodore were then displayed in the gallery space at Plymouth, and can also be seen on our website gallery.
CAM Takes Action
The Climate Action ministry team collected hard-to-recycle items and delivered them to FoCo Trash Mob. They will continue to collect the following items at the Eco Station in Fellowship Hall and transport them to CHaRM in Boulder each month or so:
Jubilee Sunday Involvement Fair
Boards tabled Fellowship Hall with information... and entertainment (as Congregational Life demonstrates) to explain what they do and invite participation. Missed it? Find contact info here. Not sure what ministry would be the best fit for you? Take a 3-min survey here.
More moments from the past month...
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One of the amazing opportunities I’ve appreciated in our congregation is getting to meet and hear some of the great voices of progressive Christianity, right here at Plymouth. Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan, John Bell, John Philip Newell, and others have been Visiting Scholars here.
You are about to have the opportunity to hear someone whom author Anne Lamott describes this way: “Diana Butler Bass is one of only a few modern Christian writers who can absolutely blow me away with both spiritual insight and beautiful writing. She is a brilliant scholar and a wonderful storytelling, charming and devout, erudite and deeply human.” (I would also add that she has a great sense of humor.)
Diana and I met at Ring Lake Ranch many years ago when we were both attending a session with Marcus Borg and Dom Crossan, and we’ve kept up over the years. She often works with Brian McLaren, and the two of them will be back at Ring Lake Ranch next summer. She also preached a sermon at the Wild Goose Festival that went viral last year.
Here is the cool thing: you don’t have to drive seven hours and pay lots of money to hear Diana, because she is going to be with us at Plymouth in less than two weeks!
Some of our members are reading Diana’s wonderful book, Grateful, on Sunday mornings with Bruce Ronda. It delves into the roots and benefits of gratitude, which can be a life-changing practice. I encourage you to read it, even if you’re not in the book group. In fact, you can find it as an eBook or and audiobook through the Poudre Library District.
Diana will be with us, preaching at our 9:00 and 11:00 services on Sunday, October 1. (This is a great opportunity to invite your friends who might be looking for a progressive church — or who have given up on ever finding a church — to join us!)
Later that Sunday, Diana will be offering a workshop (again, invite friends!) on gratitude at 6:30 p.m. in our sanctuary. We are offering this with a freewill offering and suggested donation of $20, which will replenish our Visiting Scholar reserve fund.
I think that voices like Diana’s are essential for us to hear and to share. She is an astute commentator on the history of American religion, trends in the American church, and on contemporary theology.
We will have copies of Diana’s most recent books, Grateful, Freeing Jesus, and Grounded available for purchase on October 1, when Diana will also sign copies for you.
Please be sure to join us on October 1, and invite a friend!
This week is my second anniversary at Plymouth! In some ways, we’re still getting to know each other. I’ve noticed that I get a handful of the same questions on Sunday mornings. So, I figured I’d write up a quick little FAQ list for you.
Q: Where are you from?
I’m from here! My family moved here when I was seven years old, and I grew up in Fort Collins schools. I love it here.
Q: How do you have so much energy?
Well, there's a reason you almost never see me without a coffee in hand. But also, it helps that I love what I do. When the work is life-giving, you want to keep doing it. That said, the spiritual practices I lean into the most are Sabbath-keeping and rhythms of rest. I don't pour from an empty cup.
Q: What were you doing before you came to Plymouth?
I got a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media communications from CSU, but then I started working in full time youth ministry. I fell in love with it and started pursuing a graduate degree so I can feel like I know what I’m talking about.
Q: Wait, you’re in school?
Yes! This week, I officially started my last year of my grad program at Iliff. I’m getting a master of arts in pastoral and spiritual care because I get the most excited about spiritual health and the way it touches our whole selves. Spiritual formation is a huge piece of that pie, which is why I love what I do so much. I’m going to graduate on May 31, 2024.
Q: Are you working towards becoming a pastor?
That’s the plan - I’m officially becoming a Member in Discernment with the Rocky Mountain Conference of the UCC (the local governing chapter of our denomination). That process takes about a year, and then hopefully I will be getting ordained next fall. Cross your fingers!!
Q: Can we nail your feet to the ground so you never leave?
This is a real question I have been asked, and I need you to know that I don’t plan on going anywhere. Like I said, I love Fort Collins. My whole family lives here. I love Plymouth, and I am so grateful to feel that Plymouth loves me back.
I love all your questions, so please never hesitate to come talk to me while I’m running around on a Sunday morning - or anytime during the week! I’m super excited to be starting my third program year with Christian Formation, and we kicked it off with a huge burst of great energy on our Jubilee Sunday. We have lots of great stuff ahead of us, and I look forward to celebrating many anniversaries with Plymouth.
Yesterday [Labor Day], I ended up spending too much time on social media.
I got sucked in by the buzz of conversation about church life and ministry in the clergy world of Facebook. It got me thinking about why my role as a pastor is so important to holding space for all the expressions of Christian faith. Often, I return to those first years of church-going in my life. What was it that truly compelled me to want to be a part of a rag-tag group of people who were not a part of my school group or my extended family?
One of the first words that popped into my head is "intentionality." I needed some kind of structure and container to help me live a life of intentionality. I needed church, AND for heaven’s sake, I think the world needs it too.
I’ve been sitting with the Climate Action Ministry Team (CAM) in the past few weeks. This team falls under the Board of Outreach and Mission. We have told stories together, shared ideas, and wondered aloud. It has been so fun getting really creative and visionary. This fall, 2023, you will start to notice small intentional practices within our church from the CAM. They may not be significant, but rather a loving posture toward a ‘green’ church in the hopes of caring for God’s creation. Big things are coming for this ministry team, but keep your eyes peeled for the small but very intentional nods toward climate justice.
When you come this Sunday for JUBILEE SUNDAY (a celebratory return after the summer months) you will notice a lot of activity in our Fellowship Hall. There are so many ways to get engaged and connect to one or more groups. Be intentional. Wonder where your gifts might fit. Discern your place at Plymouth this Fall.
We hope you stop by the CAM Eco Station. You can’t miss it! It’s the one with the big green plant. Here is what the team invites you to consider toward a life of intentionality for the earth and its creatures:
What do used prescription bottles, block Styrofoam, clamshells (those plastic things that we buy berries in), and single-use contact blisters have in common? They are all "hard to recycle" items.
Due to massive changes in the recycling industry, there are currently just FIVE plastic items that are accepted in our recycling bins. Pay no attention to the triangular "chasing arrows" symbol! They are a ploy by the fossil fuel/plastic industries to keep us buying their plastic!
We will be collecting the 4 items listed and take them to FoCo Trash Mob's "Hard to Recycle Event" on Sunday, September 17th after the second service!
We hope to see you in the fellowship hall!