Luke 24: 44-53
May 28, 2017
The Rev. Jake Miles Joseph
Plymouth Cong. UCC of Fort Collins, CO
Will you pray with me? God as we, your people and your witnesses, struggle in these days and these VERY scary times to remember with joy and to look forward with hope, I pray that my sermon today will be good and pleasing to you, O God, our Rock and our redeemer.
Saints and how we remember them in our UCC tradition are not as formalized as in some other Christian traditions, but there are some who have left a lasting imprint on our lives whom we might describe as saints of the progressive church. On this Eve of Memorial Day, I would like to begin this morning by memorializing someone you might not of heard of before—at least not by name. Let me tell the story, oft forgotten from the pages of history books, about one very brave woman. Born to a family of austere Calvinists, converted to our cousins in the Unitarian Church, she lived her 19th Century life in New England surrounded by the most progressive, creative, and foreword thinking people (Congregationalists and Unitarians) of the 19th Century.
The person I would like to memorialize today was a prolific Unitarian preacher, a champion of social justice and civil rights, the leader of the first convention of Unitarian Clergywomen in history starting in 1875, the president, and one of the founders of the Massachusetts Women’s Suffrage Organization. She was the first woman to become a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, one of the founds of Mothers’ Day as an anti-war struggle1, the longtime editor of the national Women’s Journal, a devout abolitionist who saw slavery as a corporate national sin, believer in the potential of humanity to do better, a hero of the suffrage movement for women, an anti-war champion, and a global pacifist who defined (in all ways) being progressive for her time. She sounds like someone we would all want to know and emulate at Plymouth doesn’t she? Her name was Julia Ward Howe2, and today we know her mostly for a modest poem she wrote by candlelight in the middle of a dreary night during the saddest time in our national memory.
You see…Julia had spent a day walking through the mud of the camps of Union Soldiers on the banks of the Potomac River. She was witnessing the wretched conditions, witnessing, bearing witness to the stories and the conversations of hope for a freer more ethical country. She saw the countless fires burning at twilight, and she heard a song about John Brown the Union soldiers sang to keep their hopes up and to remember the cause of freedom and union for which they risked it all. From her pen that night, after her tour, she took the tune the soldiers has created as a marching anthem and put new words to it…
“My eyes have seen the Glory of the coming of the Lord…who is tramping out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored, and has loosed the fateful lighting of a terrible swift sword, God’s truth is marching on…. In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea, with a glory in whose bosom that transfigures you and me; as Christ died to make us holy, let us die to make all free… while God is marching on…Glory Glory Hallelujah. Glory Glory Hallelujah. Glory Glory Hallelujah. God’s Truth is marching on.”3
And we thought all this time that the Battle Hymn of the Republic was a hymn written for and by conservatives meant to convey some dreaded manifest destiny or sense of domineering military might! This is the meaning that we have been told to take from this hymn. When I told my friend and colleague, The Rev. Dr. Mark Lee that I would be preaching a Memorial Day sermon using this hymn, he said, “Yeah, I always remember this hymn as sung by Anita Bryant [at anti-LGBT rallies in Florida] and at Republican National Conventions. It always makes me uncomfortable…”
While this is how we feel about this hymn today, in fact, it was written by a radical abolitionist, suffragette, the pacifist founder of Mother’s Day as a song of hope for what she believed the cause and point of our national identity could be: freedom, liberation, equality, and progress for all people. She bore witness to that vision with her own life story. That is why Julia cries out with the voice of the soldiers, and the suffragettes, and the abolitionists, and the witnesses for a better tomorrow where all are free: Glory, Glory Hallelujah! Amen! Hymns often have a life of their own, like any text in a religious context, but the historians are united in their view that this hymn is an anthem of liberation that claims God’s realm and purpose is for justice and freedom.
The funny thing is that while, the religious left (us) misunderstand this anthem because we associate it with the military or with oppression, the religious right has started to uncover its true meaning and Unitarian/ Progressive New England origin! Oh my! One particularly ambitious Evangelical blogger has made it his mission to rid every “true Bible Believing” household and church of this supposedly “godless” hymn. He writes in his blog, “The Truth About the Battle Hymn of the Republic,” that, “The hundred circling camps were the Union Army camps that Mrs. Howe toured at President Lincoln's invitation. She actually imagined the watch-fires of the camps to be altars built to God! ‘By the dim and flaring lamps’ in the camps, she was able to read God's ‘righteous sentence’ on the South…. What a travesty that the words of this woman have found such loving acceptance in Bible-believing churches! What a travesty that they stir emotions of patriotic fervor to unparalleled heights of ecstasy in the congregations that sing this ‘hymn’! It should never be sung by any Christian in any church anywhere, North or South.”4
Oh, the irony!
So, UCC friends, if the religious right has decided they are done with this hymn, and it SURE sounds like they are, maybe it is time for us to reclaim it again as the anthem for social justice and freedom it was intended to be. In a time when vision is lost and we seem to have lost a sense of what it means to be Progressively Patriotic rather than just pessimistically progressive (complaining and talking about how much better everything was in 1968), maybe the idea of hope and vision for liberation that Ward Howe expresses can inspire something in us again?
I guess this I am asking: “What do we see of Christ working in and through our world that makes us want to…no… need to shout GLORY, GLORY, HALLELUJAH!? If Julia could find the words to proclaim that hope in the middle of the carnage of the civil war, a far darker and scarier time than today, then certainly we can find a way to proclaim hope in 2017?
Progressives are supposed to be the ones with a vision and a hope a PURPOSE for now so that a future can be imagined—one in which God’s truth of freedom and peace is marching onward. That is our role. Where did those cool progressive people go? Have you seen them? We need to find them.
Julia Ward Howe was a prophetic witness for her time seeing the truth underling the rhetoric and confusion of war. She cries out to us through the years…. My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the realm of God! It isn’t about country—it is about greater meaning and purpose. Glory Glory Hallelujah!
In today’s scripture lesson, The Ascension According to the Gospel of Luke, Jesus’ last words to his disciples aren’t “The Great Commission” as in Matthew or the Disciples running away in fear as in Mark (multiple endings), but Luke has a much simpler and more joyful departure for Jesus. As he leaves earth, according to the story, Luke doesn’t have Jesus give a long speech, offer profound instructions or another parable, no. Jesus simply says, “You are my witnesses…And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” You are my witnesses. He doesn’t say, “You are my Christians,” or, “You are my namesake.” We are witnesses to grace and Gospel.
We are the witnesses to suburb, obstinate, determined hope that the arc of the universe bends towards justice and freedom. The eyes of our hearts have seen this Glory! We are called to be the visionaries for Christ. That is the title Jesus gives us: The United Church of Witness. It is our eyes that HAVE already seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!
Our eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord when on July 4, 1776 a group of eclectic delegates signed a simple document of independence with the idea that all people should be free to self-government, human rights, and democracy. Glory, Glory, Halleluiah! [Congregation prompted by preacher to reply with Glory, Glory, Halleluiah!]
Our eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord when on January 1, 1863 Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery and setting us on a long road towards justice and freedom that we are still traveling today. Glory, Glory, Halleluiah!
Our eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord when on August 18, 1920, fewer than 100 years ago, the 19th Amendment was ratified and women gained universal suffrage and the right to vote! Glory, Glory, Halleluiah!
Our eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord when on October 24, 1945 when the United Nations was founded under Eleanor Roosevelt’s leadership and the world began to nobly attempt resolving conflicts and humanitarian issues without constant wars. Glory, Glory, Halleluiah!
Our eyes have seen the glory with the 1954 Brown Vs. Board of Education decision that ended school segregation. Glory, Glory Halleluiah!
Our eyes have seen the glory with the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, The Voting Rights Act of 1965! Glory, Glory, Halleluiah!
Our eyes have seen the glory with the fall of the Berlin wall. Glory, Glory, Halleluiah!
Our eyes have seen the glory with the 1996 Good Friday Peace Accords in Northern Ireland; ending generations of conflict on the streets on Belfast. Glory, Glory, Halleluiah!
Our eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord when in January of 2017 the Women’s March took place (the largest civil rights march in history to date). Glory, Glory, Halleluiah!
Our eyes saw the glory of the coming of the Lord with the outcome of the court’s decision in 2013 with United States vs. Windsor when marriage was expanded to allow people like me to be married with recognition and respect so people like ME could get married. Glory, Glory, Halleluiah!
With all of the above mentioned movements for freedom and equality and justice, guess which denomination and tradition was integrally connected and witness and present and progressive and there? Guess who was there for all of these? The United Church of Witness. We remained optimistic, through the many setbacks equal or more in number than the progress weighed heavily on our faith and our strength, Christians who remained progressively patriotic and progressively witnesses for the hope they knew was there, and they endured.
Today, we reclaim the progressive meaning and legacy of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” for we too have a vision for “glory, glory, and halleluiah” in our time: Hope… growth… justice… and equality that our land, our home, our country as American Christians is yet capable of achieving. This is the best way to honor our ancestors we remember tomorrow who sacrificed in wars with a sense of purpose. We will not give-up our legacy to the pessimistic progressivism that pervades and temps us away from that hope. We cannot allow one person, one corrupt Cesar, to change our mission of hope and to take away our national pride or identity.
May we find a way to reclaim not only this song, for it is simply an example (a trope or totem) of the many ways we have lost hope or had something potentially strengthening taken away, but also a sense of progressive patriotism rather than surrendering our national identity to those who would carry us away from God’s Realm of justice and inclusion. May we indeed live-up to our pledge and truly learn to be a place with liberty and justice for all—and that, my friends, takes witnesses like you, like us, and like those we will form to take our place in this great caravan of history. Glory, Glory, Halleluijah!
Years later, at Julia Ward Howe’s funeral in Cambridge, Massachusetts, over 4,000 of the country’s most progressive, visionary, and hopeful people gathered together—and with determination and trembling voices, tears running down their stern New England faces, they sang in unison the words they knew so well—Glory, Glory, Halleluiah, Glory, Glory, Halleluiah… Glory, Glory, Halleluiah… God’s Truth is marching on. Amen.
3 This version comes from the UCC’s New Century Hymnal, which has made some inclusive adjustments.
The Rev. Jake Miles Joseph ("just Jake"), Associate Minister, came to Plymouth in 2014 having served in the national setting of the UCC on the board of Justice & Witness Ministries, the Coalition for LGBT Concerns, and the Chairperson of the Council for Youth and Young Adult Ministries (CYYAM). Jake has a passion for ecumenical work and has worked in a wide variety of churches and traditions. Read more about him on our staff page.
Rev. Dr. Mark Lee
Easter 6A Acts 17:22-34
May 21, 2017
Plymouth UCC, Fort Collins CO
One of the biggest challenges of being a progressive Christian is figuring out how to talk about God. We are keenly aware of the shortcomings of traditional dogmas -– dogmas that often make God into little more than a cosmic policeman, an angry parent, Santa Claus, or an abstract force. We are rightly atheistic about those ideas of God, for they are unworthy of devotion. We know that human language falls short when talking about the Ultimate, God who is beyond being boxed in by words. We resonate with the idea that God cannot be known, but can only be loved. So often our theology becomes “To Whom It May Concern,” hoping that making the “sign of the question mark” <sign> is sufficient piety.
But one of the ongoing themes of scripture is that God takes initiative in revealing Godself to humanity. Moving through the Bible, you see a variety of understandings of God, some clear and some fuzzy, some that are discarded and some that endure. But as you move along, you see a distinct progression of understanding from the wild God of Abraham through the Lawgiver at Sinai and the Justice-seeker of the prophets, to the Christ revealed in Jesus and the Spirit who animates the church. God works to fill in the blanks.
And it is against that background we come to this story of the apostle Paul speaking in the center of Greek philosophy, the Areopagus in Athens. Paul had been preaching and arguing in the marketplace and had piqued the interest of some of the intellectuals in the city. “What is this babbler talking about?” they said (obviously not terribly impressed). “He seems to be proclaiming foreign deities.” The way they said this, it appears that they thought Paul was preaching about two gods: Jesus and Anastasia, a god Jesus and a god Resurrection. They were a bit confused.
So Paul ends up standing in the center of the council –- imagine our city council chambers –- to explain his teaching. He starts by finding common ground with his audience. “I see that you are very religious. In fact, I see that you even have an altar to An Unknown God, so let me tell you about this unknown God you already are worshiping.” No such altar has been found, but it does seem consistent with Athenian religion. Maybe the idea was “The God Above all Gods,” or maybe insurance, “Just in case we missed one.” Perhaps it was even “E, None of the Above.” Paul treats it as “The presence of the absence of God,” which we well know is a spiritual hunger that provides an opening for the gospel.
When we feel like God is unknown, it helps to start at basic things we can know. So Paul lays out several key points: God is the creator of the universe. (He doesn’t get into how God did it, just that God did.) In the book of Romans, he suggests that this fact alone ought to inspire humans to worship God. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.” So obviously, he goes on, God cannot be confined to a human shrine or temple, and as Creator who is and has all, God doesn’t need anything from people -– such as sacrifices.
Paul then turns from considering the wide world around us to human societies and personhood. He points out that all of humanity is related, despite having different countries and cultures. He appeals to secular knowledge, citing Greek philosophers, that “In God we live and move and have our being,” and that “We are his offspring.” The point being that God is not so far off in the heavens as to be unattainable, but as close as our own breath. The theological grounding of this is that since we are created in God’s image, there is a continuity between us and God, a basis for relationship.
All of this, Paul’s audience would likely have been right with him. Most educated pagans did not believe that the gods actually lived in the temples, or were identical with the statues and shrines. They could agree that you start with creation to learn about God. But the trick—for them and for modern people -- is not to get stuck just with nature.
UCC pastor and author Lillian Daniel wrote a famous essay a few years ago. Entitled, “Spiritual But Not Religious? Please Stop Boring Me,” she talked about her fear of conversations with seat mates on an airplane. You’ve all been there: you introduce yourself to your fellow travelers, see if you have common ground for a conversation, or whether you should retreat into your book and headphones for the duration. She writes
I dread the conversation with the person who finds out I am a minister and wants to use the flight time to explain to me that he is “spiritual but not religious.” Such a person will always share this as if it is some kind of daring insight, unique to him, bold in its rebellion against the religious status quo.
Next thing you know, he’s telling me that he finds God in the sunsets. These people always find God in the sunsets. And in walks on the beach. Sometimes I think these people never leave the beach or the mountains, what with all the communing with God they do on hilltops, hiking trails and ... did I mention the beach at sunset yet?
Like people who go to church don’t see God in the sunset! Like we are these monastic little hermits who never leave the church building. How lucky we are to have these geniuses inform us that God is in nature. As if we don’t hear that in the psalms, the creation stories and throughout our deep tradition. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lillian-daniel/spiritual-but-not-religio_b_959216.html)
Now, I love seeing God in sunsets. I hike in the mountains, and look up at the crags soaring over my head and have a thrill at the majesty that created them. Or I lie down in a meadow, and try to count all the flowers within a few feet of my nose -– 12, 15, 20 varieties, each delicate and unique, witnesses to God’s amazing creativity. I might not know much about that God, but I know that God is pretty amazing. But I also know that is but a starting point if that God is going to have any impact on my life, and here is where both Paul’s audience and Lillian Daniels’ seat mate wants to get off the plane. Paul moves from the general revelation of God in creation to the particular revelation of God in Christ. Back to Paul’s speech:
But having overlooked past ignorance, now God says that everyone everywhere must change their ways. God has set a day when he will judge the world’s people with fairness. And God has chosen the man Jesus to do the judging. God has given proof of this to all of us by raising Jesus from death.
Paul manages to pack almost everything challenging about Christian faith into four sentences!
First, our connection with God has a definite ethical component, it shapes how we live. Even the general knowledge of God we get from creation puts some imperatives upon us: If I am hiking a mountain meadow, honoring the beauty of the place prevents me tossing my garbage around. If I believe that other people are the children of God as am I, then loving them as myself ought be a given. But following Jesus brings other values to the fore, things that can’t be deduced from the world around me. “Blessed are the poor.” “The meek will inherit the earth,” “The greatest among you must be the servant of all.” “Love your enemies.” These bid us cross the bridge from being nice people to being disciples of Jesus.
Second, Paul lays out the prospect of a final judgement.
(Mark, are you sure you want to go THERE? OK, no I don’t really, and if it weren’t integral to Paul’s argument here I’d slide past it!)
Of all the doctrines liable to turn off modern people, judgment is probably about the top of the list! We’re leery of it because we know how often judgement is actually unjust: that the golden rule means that the ones with the gold make the rules, that the powerful use the legal system to oppress the already powerless. We have felt the sting of being judged unfairly, for how we dress or who our family is or where we work or who we love or what we believe or anything and everything else. We also know how easily we form unfair judgments of others, and then how tenaciously we hold them even when further facts prove us wrong.
OTOH, we do believe in judgment. Our very discomfort with unfair judgment signals that we believe in right judgement. We have a keen sense that the universe ought to be administered by a moral code, that evildoers should receive their just desserts and the good should be blessed. We are outraged when it appears that people in high places -– hello Washington? –- are acting unjustly, hurting people without consequences. We expect our officials to treat people fairly, to administer the law without partiality to race or riches. Our consciences have been formed by the Hebrew Prophets, who prophesied destruction to those who cheated the poor, dispossessed widows from their lands, who bent the law to favor the powerful over the people.
So if our problem isn’t with judgment per se, but with who is doing the judging -– Paul has an answer, he says it is Jesus who is the judge. The one who took children into his lap, forgave Peter for denying him, and condemned the Temple establishment who “devoured widows’ houses.” The one who gave his life to save the world.
Paul’s audience is probably mostly still with him, most of them believed in an afterlife judgment, where the good were rewarded and the evil punished. But then there was the capstone of Paul’s argument, and where he lost most of his audience. When he started talking about Jesus’ resurrection, they were done.
Greek philosophy posited a complete disjunction between spirit and matter, with spirit as good and bodies as evil. So the idea of resurrection -– that the divine Christ would be resurrected in his human body –- was just plain nuts to them. Why would a good spiritual god want an evil material human body? For them, it was like a circular square, hot ice, or jumbo shrimp. Nonsense! The story says that when they heard him talk about the resurrection, some scoffed. Some said politely, “We’ll talk about this more later.” But a couple of people did believe -– not much of a haul compared to some other places Paul ministered, or the 3000 baptized after Peter’s Pentecost sermon. Sometimes evangelism is just hard. That’s probably one reason we have this story!
But resurrection, stumbling block to hyper-spiritual thinking, is where Christian piety becomes worldly, embodied, practical. Resurrection is the antidote to being too heavenly minded to be any earthly good. Following the Hebrew conception that God created matter, the universe, and human bodies, and called them Good, the resurrection is God’s ultimate blessing on real life. Bodies and how we treat them -- our children’s bodies, our parent’s bodies, poor bodies, black bodies, sick bodies, vulnerable bodies, our own bodies, even dead bodies – are central to God’s concern. Resurrection seals God’s blessing on our commitments to health, to environmental sustainability, to just economic systems that take good care of everyone’s body. It sees everyone as good creations of the God who is in, through, and beyond it all material creation.
Resurrection means that there is continuity between this word and whatever comes after death. It’s at the edge of what human language can tackle, but it ensures a full orbed, sensual, individual destiny as part of a redeemed, not destroyed, creation. Whatever heaven might be, it is no thin intellectual spirit existence, but as fully embodied as your best sweaty hike, the experience of childbirth (without the pain), front row center at the symphony or the most connected lovemaking. In the resurrection, we are able to plumb ever deeper into the being of the Creator, learning and feeling and experiencing ever more of God and God’s universe, plunging ever towards that infinity.
God will no longer be distant, God will no longer be “the Unknown God.” No more, “To Whom it may concern,” we worship the God the risen Jesus shows us. Amen.
Call to worship (from Psalm 19, 2 Tim. 3:16, John 1:14, Acts 17:28)
(One): “The heavens declare God’s glory, the sky proclaims God’s handwork!” (Many): We sing God’s praise!
“All scripture is breathed by God, useful for teaching and training in righteousness.” We learn God’s ways so we may be equipped to serve!
“The Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory.” We follow as Jesus’ disciples, for he shows us God.
“In God we live and move and have our being.” We dance in step with the living Spirit of God!
Self-revealing God, we look in awe at galaxies spinning above us, peaks in the distance, and flowers beneath our feet, and we feel your creative power. We open the pages of scripture, and see you leading our ancestors in faith through wilderness to promised land. We grieve over their unfaithfulness and thrill when you bring them home from exile, knowing that our own story with you is but little different. Often you seem so distant, but now you reveal yourself in Jesus, one of us, showing us what a life filled with your love can accomplish: the redemption of the world. So we dedicate this time to worship you: to praise you, to lift our prayers, to hear your Word, to share our gifts, to feel your presence, to know you better. Show yourself afresh to us now, that we can live lives fired by love. Amen.
Prayer of dedication
Risen Christ, you have showered us with blessings both spiritual and material. We are refreshed with your presence in prayer and song, comforted and challenged by your Word, strengthened and touched by our fellow worshipers. Out of gratefulness, we open our hearts, minds, cupboards and pockets to give ourselves to you and our neighbors. Thank you for the opportunity to share your blessings. Amen.
Most gracious and loving God:
You are to be praised for the beauty and wonder of all your works. The world around us testifies to your creativity and your glory, and our hearts are filled with awe. You have created us as your children in your own image, gifted with curiosity, intellect and the capacity to love and be loved. You have set us into relationship with one another, and working together we have created societies that, at their best, maximize the human capacity you have made us for. We also know that at times we abuse these gifts, hurting and hunting and hating our sisters and brothers, and that we sometimes wreck unspeakable harm on every aspect of your world. Yet you are a God whose capacity for forgiveness and new beginnings, so we rejoice to repent and start afresh on the path you lead us upon. While you are a God who has made yourself known in dreams to Abraham, thunder on Mt. Sinai, sheer silence to Elijah, and ultimately in the life, teachings, death and resurrection of Christ, it is most often through relationship with other people that you reveal yourself to us.
So today, we want to thank you for certain people in particular. All through our lives, you have taught us by way of women and men, elders and peers, people who dedicate their time and thought and energy to not only knowing you, but to sharing you with us. Some of them serve in our congregation, teaching children, youth and adults in our Formation programs. Some we have met other places. Each of us can name before you a teacher, a coach, a scoutmaster, a parent, a pastor, a guide, an advisor, a friend, a counselor or even a bartender who was instrumental in showing us how to live in you and without whom we would not be who we are. (pause) Thank you for them. Bless them. Let them know that their efforts make a difference. Continue to lead them into greater knowledge and wisdom. Give them joy in their work, sustain them through challenges, and may they know how deeply we appreciate them.
Hear, O God, our prayers: All we speak aloud and all that we nurture in the depths of our spirit. Grant us patience through affliction, reconciliation from estrangement, and courage against injustice. We pray all these things through our Savior Jesus Christ: Amen.
9 am & 6 pm communion prayer
Epiclesis (based on BCP Rite 2, prayer C)
God of all power, Ruler of the Universe, you are worthy of glory and praise.
At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our island home.
From the primal elements you brought forth the human race, and blessed us with memory, reason, and skill. You made us the rulers of creation. But we turned against you, and betrayed your trust; and we turned against one another.
Again and again, you called us to return. Through prophets and sages you revealed your righteous Law. And in the fullness of time you sent your only Son, born of a woman, to fulfill your Law, to open for us the way of freedom and peace.
So remembering him today,
We ask you to send your Holy Spirit upon these gifts from vineyard and field And upon us
That as we share this sacred memorial
We may be strengthened at heart By Christ’s resurrection life.
Amen. Benediction Go forth today:
Thanking God for all who have taught you and shown you the way In the name of
God who created you in God’s own image,
Christ who redeemed you to make the whole world God’s realm, And the Spirit who sustains you though anything
Mark brings a passion for Christian education that bears fruit in social justice. He has had a lifelong fascination with theology, with a particular emphasis on how Biblical hermeneutics shape personal and political action. Prior to coming to Plymouth, Mark served as pastor for Metropolitan Community Churches in Fort Collins, Cheyenne, and Rapid City. Read more.
Hal preaches on Psalm 31.
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.
Jane Anne preaches on Acts 2:42-47.
The Rev. Jane Anne Ferguson, Associate, Minister, is a writer, storyteller, and contributor to Feasting on the Word, a popular biblical commentary. She is also the writer of sermon-stories.com, a lectionary-based story-commentary series. Learn more about Jane Ann here.