Summer Embroidery Conversation – Questions for Reflection


Monday, May 23, 2022

Some questions I hope we will consider and use for deep listening and reflection:


What system of belief does the summer embroidery present and represent? Is it a shared belief? To what extent has there been communal reflection, conversation, and interrogation of that system of belief outside of the attempt to defend or indict the embroidery or outside of the decision to possibly rest it?


What values does the summer embroidery communicate? Not so much what we intend or even the history or narrative we hope to transmit, but what others may glean from it. Communication is a mutual and dialectical process. We won’t be able to avoid that the values, messages, and system of beliefs we hope we are communicating, and transmitting have undergone reinterpretation and reconsideration, distortion and politicization, and readjustment due to new discoveries, new information, and an unfolding, expanded historiography.


Mary Carson is reported to have maintained in reference to the summer embroidery, “our freedoms release us from elitism, persecution, rigidity of long-held customs and laws.” How do we guard against those same pitfalls in the images, symbols, and messages found in our words, liturgies, and art?


In what cultural, political, and economic context was the summer embroidery conceived, created, and understood? What was going on in Plymouth? Was there an engagement or negotiation with the larger Plymouth community about the images and messages of the embroideries?

What was going on in the Twin Cities and in the United States at the time? What cultural and political debates, conflicts, and realignments was the nation experiencing at that time? What theological discussions were happening? How were we influenced by the cultural and political context?


What ideology or ideologies does the summer embroidery project? Whatever the ideology or ideologies may be, are they outdated or in need of counter-message? Do we have a way of forecasting that we acknowledge that it may be outdated? And if the projection of the ideology is outdated or in need of a counter-message, then has it outlived its usefulness? How do we separate ourselves from negative or outdated sentiments and ideologies from an earlier time that may reside in the embroidery? Are we spending more time on a counter-message than on our hoped-for message? Are we lending our imprimatur to negative or outdated sentiments and ideologies in a piece of art that contains no context or no argument upon being seen?


Where in the display of the summer embroidery or even in our programming do we get the chance as an institution to express our regret, our reconsideration of some of those sentiments and ideologies? How do we account for the silencing and suppression of voices and perspectives of those depicted in the summer embroidery when we invited their voices and participation in other parts of our institution?


Even if we are able to contextualize the message transmitted or ideologies transmitted through the summer embroidery, to what extent does that effort to contextualize it undermine other values and commitments we hold? Does it undermine relationships with others in our community? Does it undermine potential partnerships?

Does it betray our efforts at solidarity with marginalized groups? Are we inadvertently asking certain people who attend Plymouth or visit our church to gird themselves to confront images or messages that relegate them to loaded, demeaning, and stereotypical spaces? If we are prepared to hold onto images that cannot be fully contextualized or whose potential harm cannot be mitigated, is Plymouth also prepared to repent and repair? Can Plymouth be trusted?

“The Agitators” by Laura Caviani

On May 20, 2022, The Carleton Choir and Jazz Ensemble will premiere a new work by Laura Caviani, Director of Jazz Area and Senior Lecturer at Carleton College. The work is entitled: “The Agitators”, and was commissioned by the College’s Choir, under the direction of Matthew Olson. A year in the making, this 40­–minute work sets to music the inspiring words of historically significant social activists from our country’s past: Fredrick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Emma Lazarus, and Carleton’s’ own Paul Wellstone, who was also a United States Senator for Minnesota.


The Agitators will feature the Carleton Choir, the Jazz Ensemble, Scattitude Vocal Jazz Group, and the Saxophone Quintet JazzAx. Guest singers Judi Vinar and George Philip Shoultz will join the students, as will guest brass players Jeff Rinear, and Carson King–Fournier. King–Fournier is on faculty in Carleton’s Music Department.


The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. in Kracum Performance Hall in the Weitz Center for Creativity on Carleton’s campus, and will last approximately an hour. It is free to the general public.


It will also be live–streamed, and can be seen by simply logging into the home page of Carleton’s Music Department here:


Many thanks for supporting music at Carleton College!

Leadership Council Discussion Regarding the Summer Embroidery

Plymouth’s Leadership Council and Clergy invite Plymouth members into a conversation about the intention, images, and impact of the summer embroidery. We will be together for 90 minutes beginning with a presentation followed by a time for questions and comments.
Please join us on May 23, 2022, at 7 p.m. in or on June 5, 2022, at 3 p.m. in Guild Hall. Leadership Council hopes by the end of this program year, June 30, 2022, to amend the 2019 Embroidery Action Plan by deciding whether to exhibit or rest the Summer Embroidery: Summer of the First Amendment.
Nancy Gores, Chair, Leadership Council.

Gallery Exhibit: Saving Mother Earth

Howard Conn Gallery Exhibition – January 8 – March 31st, 2022 Saving Mother Earth:

by Lynnette Black

We are privileged to be hosting Saving Mother Earth, a group exhibition showcasing artists from varied backgrounds, using diverse materials to express their concerns, champion activism, and cherish the beauty and abundance of our earth.


Janet Essley, M.A. is a painter of the Daughters of the Earth Series, muralist, and teaching artist with 20 years of experience creating collaborative murals with youth and adults. Her personal artwork focuses on themes of environmental and social justice.

Janet lives in White Salmon, WA a small town on the Columbia River, close to wilderness where she and her husband love to backpack.;

Claudia Poser is a ceramicist and author of “Dreaming in German”, a memoir. Claudia, a chemist by profession, fell in love with clay thirty years ago and never looked back. She has installed sculptural wall pieces in homes and public spaces all over the Twin Cities.  Her current work is rooted in her love of trees and the natural world. Like Parker Palmer, she envisions heaven to look like the BWCA.

Deb Miner is a Twin Cities artist and illustrator who loves nature, whimsy, and exploring. As a long-time designer, she’s also a big picture thinker who develops ideas to be functional, delightful, and engaging. Deb is currently creating drawings and surface patterns for a range of uses—including fabrics, wallpaper, and useful items for everyday use in the home, office.
Instagram: @debminerdesigner

Rob Larson, a native Minnesotan, photographer, and digital artist. Rob has been interested in photography his entire life, particularly in the art of nature. After all, he believes Mother Nature is truly the greatest artist. Rob explores a distinct digital photographic art form that reminds us of the painted renderings of the impressionist. His images can be alternately recognizable or totally abstract.