As you may know, my younger son, Chris,* has started his gap year WWOOFing (working on organic farms) in Japan. He is having an amazing cross-cultural experience, and interestingly is staying on a farm for another week with a Christian family with whom he is attending church. At 18, Chris is getting to have his first independent conversations about religion not only with his hosts, but with his fellow workers, who include a Muslim student from Malaysia. In a message this morning, Chris wrote that he was having longer, interesting talks with his hosts, who identified as evangelical Christians who “do not support abortion and I think not gay marriage and people.”
I am thankful that Chris was raised at Plymouth in an environment where he was encouraged by the whole community to think through his faith and to ask questions not only of other people, but of himself. I’m grateful that he counts as friends LGBTQ folks in our congregation: people who have loved him and nurtured his faith. I appreciate that we have raised Chris in a congregation where he has learned the value of intergenerational community, where he has learned that he is not the center of the universe. And I’m grateful for his experiences in Sunday school, youth group, confirmation, and at camp at La Foret, and on mission trips. Thank you all for helping to shape Chris and who he is becoming! Truly, it does take a village, and you have given Chris and our family a tremendous gift!
This coming Sunday is Friends & Family Sunday, when you are encouraged to invite a friend or family member to worship: someone who needs the gift of Plymouth. I know that many of us are uncomfortable speaking with friends and colleagues about our faith — even some of us who have advanced degrees in theology — but it’s time to work to get over it, because the stakes are too high. This community, our nation, and God’s world need progressive congregations like Plymouth, and they will die without your participation.
I can hear you asking now, “Why in God’s name would I invite someone to Plymouth?” So, here are some answers:
So, invite a neighbor, a colleague, a family member to experience the gift of Plymouth. You can do it! I’ll see you (and your guests!) at all three services on Sunday!
* Chris approved my sharing this…I know better than to use family stories without permission!
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.