COVID-19 Updates

Earth Day 2020 – 50th Anniversary

Fifty years ago, April 22, 1970 was the first Earth Day. It marked a watershed in history with millions of people rallying and calling for collective action to protect our planet. It was just the beginning…..

How do we mark Earth Day today, in the midst of sheltering in place? With no rallies or cleanups or gatherings allowed? We begin by giving thanks. We open our hearts with gratitude and love for Mother Earth and for all that she provides, no strings attached. We revel in her beauty and abundance! We go outside and get our hands dirty. We see and feel the natural beauty and interconnection of all living things, and say yes to standing together and caring for her.

What can you do?  Despite the Covid limitations, there are still plenty of ways to connect with others, albeit virtually, and actions you can take individually and collectively.

Join Plymouth’s EcoChallenge 

One great way to get involved, and positively impact the world in community with other Plymouth members, is to participate in the Draw Down EcoChallenge, as part of the Plymouth Church Team.

What is the Eco Challenge?
Powered by the Northwest Earth Institute since 2009, EcoChallenge is an online educational platform that challenges you to take action on environmental and social issues that matter to you. Common wisdom says it takes at least three weeks to change a habit: if you can stick with new behavior for 21 days in a row, we believe you’re a lot more likely to keep it up forever. Throughout the event, Eco-challengers share their progress and reflect in the social feed, earn points for taking action, and watch the impact they make add up in real time!
Getting signed up is really easy—just check out our video tutorial!
But I have so many questions about what it is and how it works! No problem. We’ve created a handy set of FAQs to help you navigate this challenge!
This challenge is a simple, enjoyable way to connect with fellow Plymouth members, while also multiplying our collective impact as we work to make our Earth cleaner and greener. Sign up today!
There are also dozens of Earth Day virtual events happening on April 22 and all week locally and nationally. You need only search on-line to connect with live-streamed events to get ideas and inspiration about ways you can make a difference. Go to to see a full listing of local events and organizations you can connect with.
You can also check out these two articles featured in the Star Tribune:

Plymouth’s Prayer Circle

As part of Plymouth’s Earth Sunday, we’ve created a “Prayer Circle” in the garden near the Jones Commons entrance. The circle, which is based on Ojibwe spiritual teachings, was guided by Sharon Day an Ojibwe elder. Sharon has created these circles on land all around the country as she has led ceremonies and walks that follow the path of rivers.
In this short video Sharon talks about the prayer circle and how it is a place for reflection and prayer for the earth and the water and our relatives and all that is. She encourages each of us to find a special place and make our own prayer circle where we can lay our prayers. Everyone is also invited to use Plymouth’s prayer circle.


Earth Sunday in July

We still have plans for an in-person Earth Sunday celebration at Plymouth on July 12th. Don Shelby will be here to give the sermon and there will be informational tables and activities for all ages in Jones Commons. We hope to see you there.
In the meantime, stay well and peace be with you ~
Plymouth’s Climate and Environmental Justice group
“The environment is where we all meet; where all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share.” —Lady Bird Johnson

Coronavirus upates

March 27, 2020

An excerpt from Paula Northwood’s March 27 Along the Way:

We have great resources that are guiding us through this time. The MN Conference UCC Minister, Shari Prestemon, and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz are providing solid leadership and direction.

Because of the information we have now, we will not be holding in-church worship services until mid-May, and possibly for a longer time. Because we house the Groveland Food Shelf and Academia Elze, which are considered essential, we will continue to have limited custodial and security staff on site. Governor Walz’s executive order gives faith leaders and staff permission to record and broadcast spiritual support during this time. We are taking every precaution while doing this. We are trying to err on the side of caution.

March 14, 2020


Upon further consideration and in consultation with the Deacons and the MN Conference of the UCC, we have decided to cancel the Sunday worship service and postpone the special meeting. This was a difficult decision, but we want to err on the side of caution. Our plan is to resume Sunday services and the special meeting on April 5 with the building opening again on April 1.

Elements of worship will be recorded and shared via the website and, we hope, other media platforms.  May these offerings provide some spiritual sustenance in this complicated time.  We continue to imagine ways to stay connected in community during these days of social distancing. Check the website tomorrow for details.

We will also provide boxed meals for the Third Sunday meal with limited volunteers.

Thank you for your patience.
Paula, Beth and Seth

March 13, 2020


We are living in unprecedented times. We are also having to make decisions daily as new information becomes available. We know many of you are concerned and anxious about the future. Please know that we are in this together, and your clergy are available to help you through this stressful period. During life’s difficulties, the church is called to be a place of solace, support and well-being. We just may have to be creative about how we do it.

Following the Third Sunday meal—handing out boxed meals—we will be closing the building until April 1. (This date is subject to change; we’ll keep you posted.) All Plymouth programming, board and committee meetings, and events are cancelled unless held by teleconferencing or other non-contact means.

The only exceptions are Groveland Food Shelf, Academia Elze, VocalEssence and theater groups. They will be making their own decisions.

We’re taking our lead from MN Dept of Health and following the guidelines as best we can under the circumstances. We are committed to be a supportive community of faith during this time. Stay tuned as we creatively find solutions for staying connected and supporting each other.

May God bless us!

Paula Northwood, Acting Senior Minister
Beth Hoffman Faeth, Minister for Congregational Care and Worship
Seth Patterson, Director of Spiritual Formation and Theater

Seeking wonderful role models

August 2019

Dear Plymouth members,

When I was a child at Plymouth, every kindergartner knew they would have Ms. Ruth, with her creative projects and her long beautiful braid, and we couldn’t wait for 5th grade, when Mr. Bud would be our church school teacher—he was legendary for his great stories and silly jokes. People like Ruth and Bud taught church school for decades here, and they built relationships that lasted. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to chair the 50-year member brunch when Ms. Ruth joined the ranks, and it felt like such an honor to celebrate her legacy of giving to Plymouth.

In my role here now, I am fortunate to be able to spend lots of time with the youth of our church, and here is what I see—our young people at Plymouth are smart, fun, caring, jubilant, silly, and questioning—exactly like many of us were at their age. Think back to the Ms. Ruth and Mr. Bud’s from your childhood: They might have been a Sunday School teacher, a coach, a friend’s parent, but whoever they were, they were someone who cared about you and wanted to see you succeed. It is also possible you did not have one of those people in your life, and you are now looking for the opportunity to be the person you needed when you were a child.

We are currently in need of Church School teachers. As commitments change and jobs get more demanding, people are not always able to make the 20 year commitments that Ms. Ruth and Mr. Bud did to working with our young people, but for those that do work with them for any length of time, I guarantee the lives of teacher and children will be changed for the better. Ms. Ruth and Mr. Bud were not parents of any children in Church School at the time that I had them as teachers, nor were they “energetic 25-year-olds,” but it didn’t matter. Having a caring adult who showed up, knew our names, and took an interest in our lives is what mattered to us.

Our teachers always work in a team with another adult (with new teachers being paired up with a veteran), and the time commitment is 2 hours per month. Education happens during the 10 a.m. hour, so teachers can still attend the worship service of their choosing, as well as the Sundays @ 10 offerings on weeks they don’t teach. Curriculum is all written and created in-house and sent out a few days prior to the weekend to give the teachers time to look it over and prepare.

Sunday mornings, teachers pick up their supply box, stocked with all supplies and materials they will need and bring it to their classroom to share with their kids. Each week, the curriculum focuses on our “5 Ms”:

Message—what is the Bible verse, story or quote of the day

Meaning—what is lesson to be learned from this and how might it apply to the lives of the children

Movement—a song, game, project or dance related to the message, that gives the young people the opportunity to connect to the message with their bodies

Making—a take away that helps the children connect with the message through art

More—an opportunity to talk with their parents or guardians about how to bring the lesson of the week to life, and use it to improve the world.

We are looking for teachers (2 Sundays per month) and classroom friends (1 Sunday person month) for a variety of grades, and after a background check is completed, training will be provided to help boost your confidence!

We currently have volunteers ranging in age from 21 to 80, and our kids love them all! If you are interested in making a difference in the lives of the children and youth at Plymouth Church, please email me today!

In closing, I leave you with a quote from world-renowned cellist Pablo Casals:

“Each second we live in a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that never was before and will never be again. And what do we teach our children in school? We teach them that two and two makes four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all of the world there is no other child exactly like you. In the millions of years that have passed there has never been another child like you. And look at your body—what a wonder it is! Your legs, your arms, your cunning fingers, the way you move! You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel? You must cherish one another. You must work—we all must work—to make this world worthy of its children.


Nina Jonson, Programs Manager



Spiritual Formation Minister Search Committee

We are pleased to announce the slate of candidates for the Spiritual Formation Search Committee.

Bill Davini
Ryan French
Jane Gerber
Renee Macomber
Emily Moses-Thomsen
Mary Kay Sauter, chair
Anne Seltz

Confirmation of the search committee vote will be on the agenda for the August 25 special meeting, following the second service. A booklet with bios and photos has been produced; copies will be available at the meeting.

Background: Plymouth has settled on a three-clergy ministry staffing model, which has been communicated to the congregation in a variety of ways following discernment of the Deacons, Leadership Council, counsel from Interim Minister Dan Wolpert and current ministers and staff.

We currently have two ministers: Paula Northwood and Beth Hoffman Faeth. Seth Patterson, as Director of Spiritual Formation and Theater, has been serving as the third member of the ministerial team. This position was a ministerial position in the past, and we are proceeding to make it a called clergy position once again. A search committee for the Lead Minister was commissioned at the annual meeting of the congregation in June to fill Paula’s position upon her retirement. We now need to form another search committee to round out our three-clergy ministerial team.

Our bylaws require that when a ministerial position is open, the congregation must approve a search committee. This search committee will review all possible candidates, including internal candidates (which does include Seth, who is finishing his requirements for ordination) and make a recommendation to the Deacons to take to the congregation. We expect the work of this committee to last approximately 3 to 6 months.

Thank you,
Brian Siska, Moderator