Inquirer’s Classes

In this time of pandemic and racial reckoning, during which we are experiencing both isolation and a call to action, the community has never been more important. And while it may seem unusual to host new member classes during this time, yet I think now is exactly the right time to consider if joining Plymouth Church is the right thing for you. We believe that Plymouth provides unique ways to explore and experience progressive Christianity, personal spirituality, the arts, and social justice, all within a supportive congregation. To know the care and concern of others during these uncertain days is a special blessing, and feeling rooted within a spiritual community can be life-affirming.
I plan to offer a series in two Zoom sessions (date and time to be determined based on participants’ availability) called “Inquirer’s Classes,” during which some history of Plymouth will be shared along with relevant information on governance, programs and activities, and vision for the future. Participating in the series does not obligate you to church membership. Following the classes, for those who are interested, we will design a special Membership Sunday, during which our new members would participate remotely. Please email me (bethf (a) plymouth.org) to let me know of your interest in participating in the “Inquirer’s Classes” and ask any questions you might have. I look forward to hearing from you . . . and to creating community with you!
Blessings,
Beth Hoffman Faeth
Minister for Congregational Care & Worship

Spiritual Exploration Committee Expands Programming To Year-Round Offerings  

Plymouth members will now have the opportunity to enjoy Spiritual Exploration classes throughout the year.  Starting in May, the Spiritual Exploration Committee is introducing a new term that will run through August.  The next term will go from September through December, and a third term will run January through April.  The committee hopes the change will provide more options to meet seasonal and intergenerational needs.

Classes scheduled to kick off the Spring/Summer term include

  • “The Color of Law:  A Forgotten History of How Government Segregated America,” presented by the Racial Justice Initiative, and related to an April Zoom presentation by Richard Rothstein;
  • “Pilgrimage to the Lake of the Isles,” presented by the Plymouth Contemplatives and led by Emily Jarrett Hughes;
  • “Forest Bathing,” a series of monthly walks presented by Johanna Schussler, Certified Forest Therapy guide with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs (ANFT);
  • a book study presented by the Racial Justice Initiative on “When They Call You A Terrorist;”
  • two Zoom classes and a nature walk led by David Astin, entitled “The Spirit of Nature:  What Gifts Does the Spring Bird Migration Bestow?” and;
  • a book study lead by Rev. Beth Hoffman Faeth based on Sarah Griffith Lund’s “Blessed Are Crazy: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness, Family, and Church.”

 

More details will be available in early April.  Visit the Plymouth web site under the menu option “Explore.”  If you have ideas for future programming, please feel free to seek a Proposal Form by contacting any member of the Spiritual Exploration Committee, including Jan Rabbers, Anne Fabel Cheatham, Bonnie Janda, Joan Thompson, Diane Boruff, Linda Seime or Seth Patterson.

 

Words About Worship: Welcome to Lent

Lent invites us to consider in deeper, intentional ways our life of faith. Considering the example of Jesus and the way he both wrestled with and lived into his ministry, we now begin a period of reflection and prayer so that we can discover what God is calling us to do and be graced by God to grow in strength and integrity. During worship in this season, we will explore the meaning of covenant through the powerful stories of God’s covenant with the prominent figures of the First Testament. What does covenant mean in your life of faith, and how might the encounters between Noah, Abraham, and others with God in the Hebrew Scriptures encourage our own return to God? Join us each Sunday for “Covenant Reawakened: A Lenten Journey of Return and Renewal.”

 

In addition to morning worship, Sundays in Lent beginning February 28 we will offer a “Lenten Evening Prayer” at 5 p.m. via Zoom. This is a time to interact and engage with one another around the theme from that morning’s sermon with music, silence, and prayer.

 

This week I sent an email with the opportunity to receive a star word for 2021. If you missed the email and would like to receive a star word (a spiritually centered word intended to provide focus and meaning for your faith journey), please email me at BethF@plymouth.org. And if you received a star word, I would love to know what it is. Please let me know.

 

Blessings to you in this season of Lent—and always,

Rev. Beth Hoffman Faeth

This I Believe  |  Racial Justice is Personal

Project Description…….

This I Believe/Racial Justice is Personal is a new project from the Racial Justice Initiative.

In each Friday’s Latest News from Plymouth email, you will find a link to a video story from a member or friend of Plymouth describing their thoughts and experiences on racism, racial equity, white culture and/or white advantage.  These stories will also appear on the Plymouth website and Facebook page.  Our goal with these personal stories is to inspire reflection and action, and we offer them with humility and vulnerability.

Experts who lead transformative anti-racism work ask us to turn our attention away from the actions of individual bigots and instead look at ourselves. We are asked to consider why white supporters of racial equality remained silent in the face of a continuing and deepening inequality in our society. In the early weeks of This I Believe, RJI members will practice speaking up, and we invite you to listen with an open heart and mind.  RJI hopes that all of the stories, from people you may know, will inspire deeper thought about your own relationship to systemic racism. Before Plymouth can become a truly anti-racist church, we need to first look at our own participation in a system that favors white people.  RJI wants to engage the entire Plymouth congregation in the writing of personal stories in the weeks and months ahead.

We invite you to consider writing and sharing your own story.

Writing your story….

We invite you to reflect on your own experiences, perhaps an “a-ha” moment you had or a situation you encountered, in the past or recently, that has stayed with you and shaped your thoughts and feelings on racism, equity, and/or white advantage.  How have your feelings or behavior changed as you have thought about that moment or encounter?  It need not be a long story, please use 250 to 400 words as a guide.

Writing Roundtable….

When you have written your story, you will be invited to participate in a writing roundtable.  Sharing your personal story can be emotional and vulnerable.  The intent of the roundtable is to create a safe space to read your story and get reactions from the other participants.   They are limited to 4 to 5 participants and are currently held monthly via Zoom.  Historian, writer, and Plymouth member Annette Atkins facilitates the writing roundtable.  She describes it as follows:

“The members of the roundtable are not editors or critics, but friendly readers who provide a supportive, helpful response to the writing.  The author and the readers then become partners in thinking about the essay.”

Recording your story….

Once you have finalized your story, we ask you to record it at home using any method that is best for you. We are using recorded videos because the spoken word carries more meaning and power than the written word.  In addition, recording from your home adds a level of intimacy to the telling of the story.  Recording yourself maybe a new experience for you; the church audio/video production staff can help with this process. Once you have completed your recording, you will send it to one of the audio/video production staff.  We believe there is power and value in sharing these stories with the Plymouth community in the widest way possible.  Your video story will be featured in an upcoming Latest News from Plymouth email, posted on Plymouth’s website via YouTube, the Plymouth Facebook page, and other social media platforms.  Since the video will be in the public domain and in keeping with Plymouth communication practices, we will ask that you sign a media release form prior to releasing your video.

We hope you give serious consideration to joining us and practice speaking up.

Writing and Sharing Process Summary….

  • If you want to participate in this project, contact Jean Kennedy, contact info is below
  • Write your personal story, between 250 to 400 words.
  • Participate in one of the monthly writing round tables.
  • Finalize your story for recording.
  • Record your story from home and submit video to the church staff.
  • Your video story will be included in an upcoming Friday email that is sent to the Plymouth Community, posted on the Plymouth website via YouTube, the Plymouth Facebook page and other social media platforms.

If you would like to view a few previously released This I Believe stories you can view them at:

www.plymouth.org/rji

Want to write and share your story or have questions….

If you want to participate in the This I Believe/Racial Justice is Personal project or have questions, please contact Jean Kennedy at jekennedy21 (a) comcast.net

Update From Nina

Dear ones,
It is Monday, January 4th, 2021. School is back in session, if not back in person. People are back to the office, even if the office is their couch. Christmas decorations are getting packed away, trees are getting taken down, the last Christmas cookies and New Year’s bubbly have been consumed, and it is January. Even though January is both my birthday month AND my youngest daughter’s birthday month, it is not my favorite. It is bitterly cold, Christmas is done, it gets dark early. Plus, when I was a kid, Plymouth took the whole month of January off from Wednesday evening programming, so January was a lonely month, when I missed seeing my closest friends. I would guess that many of us are feeling many emotions as we enter January 2021–hope and excitement for a COVID vaccine, joy over the arrival of DeWayne and Kareem into our Plymouth family, anticipation for Inaugeration Day, loneliness and exhaustion from 10 months of social distancing, questions around returning to school, sports, activities, etc. and so many more. It feels like we need extra big bags, and extra strong shoulders, to hold all the emotions that we are carrying. I choose the tweet from Lin-Manuel Miranda above (part of his daily GMorning and Gnight tweets) because it feels so universal. Not a single one of us is holding a feeling that only belongs to us. Whatever you are feeling, and however many feelings you are holding, someone else (most likely many someones) is carrying the same load. It doesn’t always make it easier, but it makes it less lonely.
Parents/grandparents/caregivers–as the pandemic continues, it is important to me that the programming we are offering for children and young people continues to evolve to meet their needs. We want to ensure that our programming is helpful and life-giving for your family during these ever-evolving times. Please take a moment to complete these surveys for your household, so we can best serve your family. Please do the survey for each child in that age group, especially if your children’s needs are different. For example, a family with 3 children under grade 5 should take the Children’s survey 3 separate times, once per child. This will give us the most accurate data, since siblings are not automatically monoliths, just because they reside in the same home.

New Member Class

RJI Establishes Purpose Statement and Goals

Purpose Statement

 

Live out our faith and values by accelerating Plymouth’s actions to heal pervasive racial injustice through individual, congregational and community transformation.

 

Goals*

Within:

  • Deepen our personal awareness of white advantage in systemic racism through a spiritual, honest and compassionate approach to ourselves and others.

 

Among:

  • Cultivate our Plymouth community commitment to build awareness and work to dismantle racist structures in our personal lives, the life of our congregation and the life of our community.

 

Beyond:

  • Foster relationships and opportunities to listen to, learn from and partner with organizations led by Black, Indigenous and People of Color and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and all allies who are committed to nurturing racial justice in our communities.

 

 Spiritual Principles to Guide our Work

 

  • We acknowledge that many of us are beneficiaries of a system that advantages white-bodied people.
  • We follow the yearning of our souls to build a just world.
  • We care for one another with grace and compassion through this challenging work.
  • We foster non-judgmental spaces and safe places to have honest conversations.
  • We deepen our understanding of our country’s more complete history by learning from people whose stories have not been included in the dominant historical narratives.

  *These categories are not mutually exclusive

Virtual Coffee Hour

Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Legacy Giving, and Weren’t Sure Whom To Ask

By Becca Norris, Chair of Legacy Giving Committee

Q: What is legacy giving to Plymouth?
A: Simply stated, this is a deferred, planned gift to Plymouth Congregational Church made possible by including the church in your estate plan. Legacy giving creates a legacy beyond your lifetime.

Q: Do I have to pay anything before my death?
A: No. A legacy gift to Plymouth most commonly is a bequest in a will that costs nothing during one’s lifetime but benefits the church at the death of the donor.

Q: How much do I need to commit to give?
A: A legacy gift of any size is welcome and appreciated! Even a small legacy gift can make a difference. The specifics of your gift are kept confidential.

Q: How do you leave a gift in your will?
A: An easy way is to designate a specific dollar amount or a percentage of your estate.

Q: What are examples of a legacy gift?
A: Gifts can take several forms. Examples include cash, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, IRAs, life insurance, real estate or personal property.

Q: How are the Flame Society and legacy giving connected?
A: Plymouth members and friends who make plans for a legacy gift to Plymouth become part of the Flame Society. The Flame Society and Legacy Givers are one and the same. Most years, Plymouth expresses gratitude to legacy givers at an annual luncheon. Note that you can remain anonymous as a legacy giver if desired.

Q: Do I need a lawyer to set up a legacy gift to Plymouth?
A: You don’t have to use an attorney to set up a specific legacy gift in your will or trust, but you may want to contact an estate-planning attorney or financial planner, particularly to discuss any tax benefits for the donor or heirs.

Q: Where do legacy gifts go?
A: Your legacy gift should be designated to either Plymouth’s Legacy Fund or Plymouth’s Endowment Fund. You can find fund definitions and an example of words to use in your will at this link: https://www.plymouth.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Legacy-web-language.pdf.

Q: Where can I get more information about setting up a legacy gift to Plymouth or get more information?
A: The church website has information about completing and submitting a Bequest Confirmation Form. You can find this form and information at this link: https://www.plymouth.org/act/give-2/legacy-giving/.