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