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?
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.
As I was reflecting on what the theme and goals could be for this year, I kept coming back to the concept of working for the common good. I kept thinking about how our country has moved away from this value, particularly over the past decade or two. Surely, there are people who continue to believe and actively work to make it a reality. Wouldn’t it be nice to hold them up and celebrate their good work? I slowly moved from this phrase to express it a bit differently with Beloved Community, as expressed in our new strategic plan.
You might ask as I did, what does beloved community mean and where did this phrase first originate?
“Philosopher-theologian Josiah Royce, who founded the Fellowship of Reconciliation, coined the term Beloved Community in the early 20th century. It was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, who popularized the term and invested it with a deeper meaning. King's Beloved Community is justice, not for any one oppressed group, but for all people. As Dr. King often said, `Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ He felt that justice could not be parceled out to individuals or groups, but was the birthright of every human being in the Beloved Community.”
I can see the connection between working for the common good and beloved community. Therefore, the Leadership Council has adopted the following theme for 2022 - “Extending and Embracing Beloved Community.” What an amazing difference this can make in how we interact with all people and creation. Some will say this is only a dream. They are correct unless we commit to finding the various ways, both individually and corporately, we can breathe life into reality.
Leadership Council cannot do this alone. We need all of our church family to be engaged. Let us find ways to celebrate those among us who are putting this dream into action. Please reach out to me or to other Council members with names of groups or individuals we need to recognize and thank for their efforts.
Peace and blessings,
Claudia has been a member of Plymouth since 2006. Her volunteer jobs have included Deacon, Congregational Life Board, lead organizer of the All Church Retreat and the Women's Friendship annual retreat, and an active member of the Celtic Spirituality group. and Fellowship of the Grape (FOG) group.