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Plymouth UCC’s Mission Work and Social Justice Advocacy
"The church exists by mission like a fire exists by burning. Without mission, there is no church." - Emil Brunner
Social justice advocacy and mission work are central to Plymouth UCC’s life and identity. Twenty-percent (20%) of Plymouth’s operating budget goes to mission (ministry beyond the local church) and overall, nearly 40% of what the congregation gives goes to mission. Through its volunteers, programming, financial contributions, and advocacy, Plymouth provides support to local, national, and international organizations and projects – oftentimes agencies that work with people who are frequently relegated to the margins.
Additionally, Plymouth has been “ahead of the curve” in the social justice arena. Here are just two examples. Follow the links for more information about Plymouth’s local, national, and international work.
Open and Affirming
In 1998, Plymouth became an Open and Affirming church by vote of the congregation. “Open and Affirming” is the specific designation for churches in the United Church of Christ who have voted to publicly declare and conduct themselves in a manner which is both open to, and affirming of, those of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions. To affirm is much more than to simply accept, which feels like tolerance. To affirm is to welcome and celebrate people as they are, in the core places of their being, and also in their relationships.
At Plymouth, LGBTQ persons are part of the full life and ministry of the congregation. Through its Open and Affirming Committee (ONA), which meets monthly, the Plymouth Congregation is very active in the ongoing work of securing full rights and acceptance for LGBTQ persons in society. We have helped several other churches become ONA, continue to work on Marriage Equality, work locally with Gays in Faith Together (GIFT), the Network, and the Pride Festival, host the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance Service as well as programs and speakers on LGBTQ issues, and provide opportunities for LGBTQ and straight persons to come together for fellowship and service.
Rev. Doug Van Doren performs covenant ceremonies for couples who wish to declare their love and commitment to one another. For one day, in March 2014, he was able to legally marry same-gender couples in the State of Michigan. While that opportunity was short-lived, at Plymouth, we believe people can be married in the eyes of the church regardless of legal state recognition. For more information, contact Rev. Van Doren.
Plymouth’s congregation voted to rededicate itself to its calling as a Just Peace congregation in November of 2002. It did so in response to the increased beating of war drums following the attacks of September 11, 2001. This new resolve to “Wage Peace” was pro-active, calling on the congregation to, in part:
• Seek further ways to promote the Just Peace message in the community.
To be a church that’s Open and Affirming and resolved to “Wage Peace” takes more than words. Through the work of its Open and Affirming Committee and Justice and Peace Task Force, Plymouth continues to support, advocate, and educate on behalf of these positions.
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