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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, 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.

Plymouth was very active in the fight for Marriage Equality. Prior to June of 2015, when the United States Supreme Court finally declared same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states, Plymouth's former minister (Rev. Doug Van Doren) performed covenant ceremonies for couples wishing to declare their love and commitment to one another. We believe people can be married in the eyes of the church regardless of legal state recognition. 

Wage Peace

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.
• Sponsor education and action opportunities for adults and children on topics of justice and peace.
• Seek to convey the perspective of people in the Middle East and other parts of the world that are rarely heard by their governments or ours.
• Challenge and support Plymouth people to wage peace in our homes and communities.

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.

Racial Equity

In 2015, Plymouth specifically committed to be an Anti-racism church by vote of the congregation.This means that Plymouth will actively seek to be aware of, and counter, implicit bias and any practices that tacitly or actively support discrimination and devaluation of people of color in all aspects of our church life
ministry. This commitment is reflected in our policies and practices, preaching, in education growth and transformation programs for adults and children, communication, and public witness.

Phone: 616-455-4260
Fax: 616-455-4149
Email: Plymouth (at)
4010 Kalamazoo Avenue SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49508

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