Earlier this month, I had the wonderful opportunity for several days of retreat at the Sacred Heart Retreat House in Sedalia, just south of Highlands Ranch. An important component of the retreat was meeting daily with a spiritual director, a guide who helped me reflect on where God is calling me in my life and in my ministry. It’s a practice I recommend for anyone! Some of what came up with was feeling God’s call to lean more into teaching and retreat leadership at Plymouth…even a virtual pilgrimage!…to keep a Sabbath day each week.…to make time for working on my physical health and stress and for family.
And I’ve stepped back into the whirlwind of life at Plymouth, which hasn’t slowed down a bit…though I hope my approach has shifted. It’s about listening to where God is leading, rather than just what seems urgent.
One of the ways I hope you will join me in trying to listen to God — in dreams, in whispers, in hints from other people, in creation — is in discerning our common path in the coming years. Where is God calling us? Who is our neighbor? How can we be part of addressing systemic social justice issues and in healing our nation? As I said Sunday morning, we are uniquely positioned as a congregation to do things others cannot.
We have a great Strategic Planning Team, created and called by our Leadership Council. Heather Siegel (chair), Judy Barth, Larry McCulloch, Nic Redavid, Marilyn Votaw, Jackie Wray, and I comprise the team. We’re working with John Wimberly as our consultant, and we are going to start by listening…and we’re going to do that by asking you to listen for where God is calling us.
This week you will receive a three-question survey (well, four, actually…but one of them is your name). That is the first way we’ll listen to you. And we’ll keep listening through online focus groups and a retreat with our Leadership Council. Please fill out the survey before November 25, so we can hear your dreams and visions for our congregation!
I also want to invite you to a retreat this coming Saturday with Eric Elnes, a UCC minister who will guide us through an interactive exploration to discover what we can learn from the difficult time (the “dark wood” is Dante’s phrase) we are in. Eric is our visiting scholar this year, and I hope you join me on Saturday. You can sign up now at plymouthucc.org/visitingscholar.
Even in the midst of a pandemic, great things continue to happen here at Plymouth. Thanks for your support and for being a part of this congregation!
The Rev. Hal Chorpenning has been Plymouth's senior minister since 2002. Before that, he was associate conference minister with the Connecticut Conference of the UCC. A grant from the Lilly Endowment enabled him to study Celtic Christianity in the UK and Ireland. Prior to ordained ministry, Hal had a business in corporate communications. Read more about Hal.