Capital City Pride Parade 2021


On Sunday, June 27, Plymouth Church participated in the Pride “Parade.” Attendees were encouraged to deck out their cars with Pride and drive on the parade route through Waterworks Park to view all the Pride displays. We heard that around 3000 cars came through the parade route. It’s such a joyful way for Plymouth to show up and make an impact in our community! See below some photos of Plymouth’s Pride booth!


Courtyard Clean Up


Thank you to all the wonderful gardeners who have been hard at work to clean up our courtyard! Next time you’re at Plymouth, be sure to stop by and see it!


Mary Kate Buchanan/TiM News


Dear Plymouth,

I am very happy to share that Mary Kate Buchanan has accepted a call to join First Community Church in Columbus, Ohio, as their Minister of Pastoral Care. Pastoral Care is a true passion and calling for Mary Kate and she is an Ohio native, so I hope you will all join me in celebrating with her.

Mary Kate joined us immediately after graduating from Princeton Theological Seminary and being ordained in June of 2019. During her time with us she kick-started a new weekly Bible study, offered new programming for older adults, reworked the Discover Plymouth curriculum, demonstrated the spirituality of cooking on Facebook, and most recently, she worked with Frank Thomas to create a cancer support group at Plymouth. Anyone who has interacted with Mary Kate knows she is caring and a lot of fun. We have been blessed by her time with us and we bless her as she joins First Community Church.

Her last weekend of worship at Plymouth will be July 25-26. If you want to congratulate her directly, feel free to send an email to: Cards or notes can be mailed to her attention at the church: 4126 Ingersoll Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50312.

So what about our next TiM? As you know, we paused the recruitment of our next TiM Associate Minister during the pandemic, but with conditions rapidly improving, we re-started that search process a few weeks ago. We welcome your prayers over the next several weeks as we look for a new TiM pastor to join us this fall.

It feels apt to celebrate these next steps on the same day we are also celebrating the life of Frank Thomas, former Director of Plymouth’s TiM Program. No one would be happier than Frank to see Plymouth Church continue to welcome first-call pastors and then release them to serve at churches across the country. This work we all do together is a blessing, near and far.

As always, if you have any questions about the TiM Program you are welcome to contact me at

Peace be with you,
Karen Quance Jeske
Director of TiM Programs


Afghanistan Resources


How You Can Help Afghan Refugees

The humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is heartbreaking to witness. As people of faith, we are called to be the hands and feet of Christ. Plymouth’s mission to “practice radical love everywhere and always” encourages us to take action.

You may be wondering what you can do to help in the face of this crisis. To assist you, we have put together a list of resources and action steps.

(Update!) Local Assistance

The U.S. Committee for Refugees & Immigrants (USCRI)* is the refugee resettlement agency Plymouth is partnering with to co-sponsor a refugee family this year.

USCRI Des Moines welcomed a family from Kabul recently. They have staff on the ground in Fort Lee, Virginia, helping process Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders who served alongside the U.S. military in Afghanistan. They are preparing to welcome more of these individuals to Central Iowa, providing them with the housing, education, and employment opportunities necessary to rebuild lives and restore hope.

Here are tangible ways you can help these local resettlement efforts:

Make a financial contribution to USCRI Des Moines to help provide families with critical resettlement services and resources.

Donate new or gently used household items to USCRI Des Moines. Currently, their greatest needs are for the following items:

  • floor lamps
  • large pots and pans
  • skillets
  • cutting boards
  • twin- and full-size comforters and sheets
  • knife sets
  • other miscellaneous kitchen and cleaning supplies


Please note: they do not have space to store large upholstered items; however, they may be able to use furniture like dining sets, dressers, and coffee tables. To schedule a time to drop off donations, please email Liz Vernon.

Provide housing to newly arrived families. Landlords and property managers can email for more information.


Add your voice to the United Church of Christ’s advocacy efforts on this issue.



Watching the images from Haiti and Afghanistan in the past week, we are confronted by and reminded of the human faces inside large-scale tragedies — each person with their own history, a home and family, dreams and worries, joys and sorrows. As the Plymouth Welcomes a Refugee Family project awaits the news of who our refugee family will be, we are also holding space for sorrow and lament. Please join us in praying for refugees, asylum seekers, and all those forced to flee their homes in fear. You can find a prayer here.


Educate Yourself

Worldwide, 82.4 million people have been forcibly displaced. As of 2020, that means one in every 95 people on earth has fled their home. In Afghanistan alone this year, over half a million people have been displaced since the beginning of 2021, and 80% of those forced to flee are women and children. Acute humanitarian needs are now spiraling. (Source: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees).

The problem is vast. Where can you start to learn more? Here are a couple recommendations:


*The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) is a non-governmental, non-profit organization and one of nine refugee resettlement agencies approved by the U.S. federal government. They have eight field offices in North America, including one in Des Moines.


AMOS Delegate Assembly June 2021


AMOS Delegate Assembly

Sunday, June 27 at 3-4:30 p.m.

Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart Church- 510 E 1st St in Ankeny and Zoom. Outdoor social after the meeting.

To register in advance for the Delegate Assembly, click here.

The Delegate Assembly is the decision-making body of AMOS. Each member institution is encouraged to organize a strong delegation to attend and represent your institution as we make decisions about the direction of your broad-based organization of organizations.

The Delegate Assembly agenda will include celebrating major AMOS victories, ratifying the 2021-22 AMOS budget, commitments to strengthen institutional core teams, and relationship building across Central Iowa.

AMOS leaders committed to organize 111 people to attend the Delegate Assembly! If your institution has not yet made a turnout commitment, let the turnout captains know how many people you will organize to attend:


Remember to register for the June 27 Delegate Assembly. Registration will help us to keep track of turnout and aid with in-person and virtual logistics.


Senior Minister Search Update: June 21


As the search committee begins the important phase of evaluating resumes and candidates, it is a good time to review and summarize some of the findings from the congregational survey this spring.

Plymouth, as always, you showed up with enthusiasm and thoughtful responses. It is not surprising most respondents cited finding a candidate who gives enthusiastic, compelling sermons as important to the selection process.

Some other key areas included specific goals such as growing the children and family programming at Plymouth. This was part of a larger common theme of faith formation, creating connections and revitalizing membership. The strategic plan was also a recurring theme. Plymouth’s mission to practice radical love and inclusion offer space for a creative vision going forward. The next leader at Plymouth will also be called to support social justice initiatives and provide leadership within our community. The successful candidate will need to be able to navigate the complexities of a large church with strategic thinking and operational excellence.

The survey responses helped build the Plymouth UCC Profile. It is available for review here.

The search committee continues to work with consultant, Slingshot Group. The Slingshot church profile is available here.

The search committee has been thoughtfully weighing the findings from the congregational survey. The goal will be to find a candidate who meets many of the criteria and demonstrates a passion for Plymouth Church. That passion will be defined by a desire to grow with the congregation in the journey ahead. The process of transitioning to new leadership will be a learning curve for everyone. Plymouth Church, you have shown again and again you will welcome the new senior minister and their future opportunities to lead with open arms.

Be sure to watch this space for additional updates in the coming weeks. You can also find all the transition updates on Plymouth website’s Senior Minister Transition page. The senior minister search committee can be reached at


Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon


The Plymouth Version of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”

By: Diane Hayes

Did you ever notice how connected our lives are, and in so many unexpected ways? That web of connection through Plymouth Church extends much farther than you might imagine.

One of the things I do for Plymouth is report copyrights and permissions for every piece of music played in service: any musical text that is printed in the bulletin or included in a podcast is reported. During Pride Month, we’ve been using hymns from Songs for the Holy Other, a collection of hymns affirming the LGBTQIA2S+ community.  I can report most of these hymns as usual but some of them require us to obtain permission directly from the poet or composer.

On June 6, we sang the hymn, “God of Queer, Transgressive Spaces,” written by Edward Moran.  He graciously gave us permission to use it after looking Plymouth up online, and realizing that his pastor, David Nunn-Telfort, served here as a TiM. Edward told me it was the first time he’d heard all the verses sung in one performance, making it a “world premier” of sorts. 

On June 20, we will sing “For Those Who Suffered,” words and music by Benjamin Smith.  He quickly responded in the affirmative to my email.  Moments later, Rushing Kimball appeared in my doorway telling me that Benjamin had emailed him (Rushing) to let him know that I had contacted him (Benjamin) about Plymouth using the hymn.  It turns out they are friends from Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

The world may be a big place, but thanks to webs of relationships and generations of ministry, Plymouth’s connections stretch far beyond Central Iowa. Let us give thanks and continue the work of building community, sharing our light of love with all we meet.


World Refugee Day 2021


“The drastic images which make newsreels create the impression that people turn into refugees overnight. In my family’s experience, that isn’t true. Becoming a refugee is a gradual process, a bleaching out, a transition into a ghostly existence. With the exception of those born in refugee camps, every refugee used to have [another] life. It doesn’t matter whether you were a physician in Bosnia or a goat herder in the Congo: what matters is that a thousand little anchors once moored you to the world. Becoming a refugee means watching as those anchors are severed, one by one, until at last you’re floating outside of society, an untethered phantom in need of a new life.” – Lev Golinkin, essay in The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives

June 20 is World Refugee Day, intended to focus on the rights, needs and dreams of refugees. As Plymouth prepares to help a refugee family settle into a new home and community this year, we’ll also use this opportunity to learn more together about the issues impacting refugees globally and locally.

Did You Know?

A displaced person is someone who has fled or been forced to leave their home, whether through violence, persecution, or natural or human-made disasters. Displaced people include these three groups:

Refugees are people forced to leave their country due to ethnic, political, or religious persecution. They have gone through a rigorous legal process, where their claims of persecution have been vetted and affirmed by a court of law, granting them legal status for international assistance and resettlement in a new country.

Asylum seekers are also seeking protection outside their own country, but differ in that their claim for refugee status has not yet been determined by a court of law. Not every asylum seeker will be recognized as a refugee, but most refugees are initially asylum seekers.

Internally displaced persons (IDP) have fled from their homes to a different region within their own country. Unlike refugees, they are not protected by international law or eligible to receive many types of aid because they are still under the jurisdiction of their home country. This group accounts for more than half of all displaced people in the world.

The scope of the global crisis is dizzying:

  • 80 million people are forcibly displaced in the world. (source)
  • 40% of the world’s displaced people are children. (source)
  • As of 2019, one in every 97 people on the planet was displaced. (source)
  • 85% of the world’s displaced people are hosted in developing countries, often in areas affected by acute food insecurity & malnutrition. (source)
  • The number of people displaced globally nearly doubled in the decade between 2009 and 2019. (source)
  • Every minute, 20 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror. (source)


“There are more refugees and internally displaced people now than at any other time in history. This is truly a global humanitarian crisis.” (source)

Given the complexity of this issue, we’ll break it down into more digestible themes in the weeks ahead and invite you to come on this journey by engaging with future content in the Plymouth Weekly, Contact, and on Plymouth’s social media channels.

How to get involved?

There are a number of ways you can get more involved, starting with actions that take no more than a few minutes of your time:


Senior Minister Search Update: June 7


The position for senior minister continues to be posted with both the UCC search and call process and the Slingshot Group search firm. The open position has been posted since the beginning of May and continues to attract candidates from various backgrounds. All resumes collected are being routed through Slingshot Group for review. The first round of candidates will be presented to the search committee in early July for consideration.

While resumes are being collected, the search committee has also been preparing for the upcoming interviews with potential candidates. Preparation has included individual discernment and strategic small group work. Implicit bias training was held to help the committee identify and avoid implicit bias during the interview process. Also, in-depth work has been ongoing in developing appropriate strategies and questions for each interview. The committee once again asks for prayers and support from the congregation as it moves into this next important phase of the search.

Watch for more updates in the coming weeks on Plymouth’s website and other church communications. The search committee can always be reached by email at


Senior Minister Search Update: May 3


The work of the search committee reached several important milestones this week! With the help of The  Slingshot Group, Plymouth Church’s search firm profile has been finalized and will be posted beginning Monday, May 3. This will effectively announce the open position of senior minister through Slingshot’s website and other contacts.

Also, after several months of information gathering, thoughtful discernment and suggested revisions, Plymouth’s UCC church profile has been sent for final approval and validation. It is expected the UCC will post the church profile and announce the position through their search and call process in the very near future.

The committee would again like to thank the congregation and staff for their input, thoughts and support during this process. The committee spent many hours considering the questions and information that went into each profile. The faithful support of you, the Plymouth congregation, has been an important part of this process.

Watch for more updates in the coming weeks on Plymouth’s website and other church communications. The search committee can always be reached by email at