Our neighbors include people who live in the neighborhood, institutions that run non–profits or businesses, and those individuals who move in and out – who bus, work or are homeless. We have been able to meet with many individuals and groups of neighbors who responded to our questions about how we can be better neighbors and strengthen our neighborhood together. We’ve also had dozens of more casual, on- the-street conversations. Generally, they seem to trust our good intentions. We on the Campus Task Force are eager to help Plymouth move beyond intentions. We’re talking about transformational change.
Plymouth’s long, rich tradition of helping our neighbors and neighborhood by providing direct services to people with various needs has begun to morph toward changing the conditions that underly their challenges. Compassion has and will always matter. But as we prepare to make recommendations to the Deacons in December, we believe it’s time to strengthen and transform our commitment to racial and economic equity. We believe we should create a new model for concrete changes that will enhance the well-being of our neighbors and the neighborhood we share.
Fortunately, and not unsurprisingly, a growing number of more than 125 church and staff members inspired these themes above and added specific ways we might honor this path toward justice. But what do our neighbors say? In the most general of terms, they include the following:
- Might Plymouth create a community center, a hub that offers a continuum of services that help neighbors build more independent lives? Job-related, medical screening, and support services for teens are just examples.
- Could neighbors participate in programs Plymouth is already offering its members? Music and theatre programs, gallery exhibits, Helping Hand program on Wednesday nights are among those cited.
- Might neighbors use various spaces – theatre, sanctuary, library gallery for their own performances and exhibits, chapel for memorial services for people who don’t have or can’t afford their own spaces, safe inside spaces to relax with others?
- Might we host or co-host occasional social block parties, musical events at or outside Plymouth?
- Will our members become actively involved in our neighborhood and participate in their organizational events?
- Will Plymouth and its member advocate for public policies or recommendations that improve the neighborhood?
- Above all, will we partner with them in deciding what programs, services and assets might made at Plymouth and in the surrounding neighborhood?
Stay tuned as we come back with more thoughts in two weeks. Do you have ideas you want us to consider as we develop our recommendations to the Deacons? Please contact Sonia Cairns, email@example.com Thank you, members and staff, for your energy, creative ideas, and commitment to making the real and bold change on behalf of our neighbors and the neighborhood we share.
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?
Join other members at the Round Table conversations. We are eager to hear your thoughts and dreams about how we can make our church, property and land more hospitable to our neighbors and guests and to create a stronger sense of community.
One hour discussions will be held on
- Sunday, May 22 at 10 a.m. in the Parsons Room.
- Zoom conversations will be held on Tuesday, May 24 at 6:30 p.m.
- Zoom conversations on Wednesday, May 25 at 10 a.m.
Join Zoom Session here:
Habitat for Humanity Build Week
Please join with other Plymouth members and friends in our Habitat For Humanity Build Week, September 26–30. We will be working on a new house located at 917 31st Ave. N. in Minneapolis. We will mainly do interior finish work and need 12 to 15 volunteers daily. To volunteer, click on the Habitat volunteer website at:
Should you have questions or if you would be interested in helping by assisting in providing lunch at the site for the volunteers, please contact Jim Christenson (firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-895-0644, phone or text).