Meskwaki Annual Powwow 2021


Plymouth Church is invited to unite with the Meskwaki community through laughter, dance, singing, and remembering at the annual Meskwaki Powwow August 12-15. The Meskwaki Powwow was derived from the Green Corn Dance, an annual event that took place during the harvesting of crops. Although dance styles and content have evolved over the years, the Meskwaki still consider the event a time of affirmation and hope, of kinship and friendship.

In Plymouth’s land acknowledgment, we vow to honor with gratitude the land itself and the peoples who have protected it through generations. Our faith calls us to be good stewards of this land. By sharing in this opportunity, Plymouth congregation will have a window into what the Native Americans brought to our first “Thanksgiving”: games, food, and a sense of communal celebration.

If you’d like to read more about this Powwow, click here.


Board of Christian Education Interest


Would you like to support the future generations of Plymouth Church? We need you!

The Board of Christian Education for Children and Families (BCE) is looking for board members and committee members. The recent change to the bylaws has expanded the scope of BCE to birth through grade 12. BCE is looking for members with a passion for children and families, especially folks with experience or expertise with older youth, and people with connections throughout the church, including folks who aren’t actively parenting right now.

BCE is also forming committees focused on:

  • Education and Faith Formation
  • Family Connections
  • Service Projects and Social Action
  • Safety, Security & Space


If you are interested in serving on the board or a committee, or want to have a conversation about where you could serve, please email Georgia Sheriff at with the subject “BCE Interest.”


Senior Minister Search Update: July 26


Hello friends,

I write to provide you with another update on our Senior Minister search.

As you all know, the Senior Minister Search Committee was formed in late November 2020. When I think about all the work it has accomplished since then, I cannot help but be impressed by the devotion of my fellow committee members to this critically important work of the church.

Following the selection of the committee members representing the nine church boards, we gathered in December to select our three at-large members. We took a brief break to celebrate Christmas, and then in January 2021, we decided we wanted to hire a search firm and sent out numerous requests for proposals to firms across the country. In February, our committee held Zoom interviews with three search firms and ultimately selected the Slingshot Group and consultant Mike Goldsworthy. Following that selection, starting in March we engaged in an extensive discovery process with Mike so that he could obtain an understanding of Plymouth, our values, and our congregation. Around the same time, our committee began preparing our UCC profile, which, as you saw when we circulated it to the congregation, was no small task. Our profile ended up being 41-pages, plus attachments! We also prepared a separate profile for Slingshot to utilize. While the creation of these two profiles was a large undertaking, the drafting was made much easier by the hundreds of responses we received from the congregational survey. These responses helped guide us throughout the entire drafting process.

After our UCC and Slingshot profiles went live in early May, our committee set out to determine what our initial interviews would look like and what we hoped to learn about each candidate. In late June, Mike presented four candidates to our committee. Of the broader pool of applicants who expressed interest in the position and who Mike reviewed and spoke with, the four candidates were the persons Mike felt possessed the skills and talents necessary to fill our senior minister role.

The committee agreed. In early July, we held 90-minute Zoom interviews with each of these four candidates. These initial interviews went extremely well and the committee concluded the first round of interviews feeling inspired and hopeful. Since then, we have narrowed down our candidates from four to three and this week we will be holding 60-minute second-round Zoom interviews with those three candidates.

Plymouth Church, I am so excited for our future. It is my sincere hope that you all can feel how invested your search committee is in this important task and that we have been diligently at work. I ask that you continue to keep the search committee, our candidates, and Plymouth Church in your prayers. We will continue to keep you updated on our progress as we are able.

As a reminder, you can stay up to date on all developments from the search committee by visiting the Senior Minister Transition page on Plymouth’s website found here. There you can find a complete archive of all postings as well as new updates. Updates are also sent out regularly in the Monday Moderator Minute e-mail. Lastly, if you have any questions or concerns, the committee can be reached at

In service,
Caroline Valentine
Chair, Senior Minister Search Committee


Refugee Family Project Update


Hello, Plymouth!

After months of preparation, countless hours spent by volunteers, and generous donations from the congregation, the Plymouth Welcomes a Refugee Family team is excited to introduce to you the Syrian refugee family that we are co-sponsoring.

From left to right: Ali (age 11), Nada (9), Rania (7), Sanaa, Marwan, and Yousef (5).

Originally from Syria, the family speaks Arabic, and their religion is Sunni Muslim. Marwan completed intermediary school and worked as a shop owner. Sanaa completed primary school. Prior to their arrival in the United States, the family had been located in Amman, Jordan.

The family arrived in Des Moines on September 15 and spent their first week in an extended-stay hotel, as we waited for an apartment to become available.

A happy welcome at the Des Moines airport!

September 23 was the long-awaited move-in day! Plymouth volunteers and staff from the U.S. Committee for Refugees & Immigrants (USCRI) spent the day moving donated furniture, household goods, and food into the family’s new 3-bedroom apartment. Professional movers handled the heavy lifting, which was no easy feat with three flights of stairs and no elevator!

Thanks to the many donations of furniture and household items from Plymouth members, we were able to create a warm and welcoming space for this wonderful family. A special touch included five beautiful, handmade quilts created by the Plymouth Quilters, which added a lovely splash of color to the family’s new beds.

Seeing the family arrive and explore their new apartment was a joyful and much-anticipated moment for the project team, and we’re pleased to tell you that the family loves their new home!

The family’s apartment is located in West Des Moines, and the children will attend school in the Waukee school district. A team of Plymouth volunteers will work directly with the family in the coming weeks and months to assist them as they settle into life in their new home. Plymouth volunteers will be teaching the family how to use public transportation, helping enroll the children in school, coaching the family on finances, and providing friendship and fun activities to acquaint the family with the Des Moines area. Plymouth will also be providing food for the first month, as well as rent assistance.

Our co-sponsorship partner USCRI provides services such as English language lessons, cultural and community awareness classes, healthcare coordination, job preparation and placement, and legal services.

We will continue sharing updates in the coming months to let you know how the family is doing, so stay tuned! In the meantime, please keep the family in your prayers as they continue adjusting to life in America.

Thank you for all of the support, donations, and prayers that have enabled us to welcome this beloved family to Des Moines. This is radical love in practice. Thank you, Plymouth!

For questions about the Plymouth Welcomes a Refugee Family project, you may contact our project chairperson Alicia Claypool,


Hearing Assistance at Plymouth


Pastor Sarai’s sermon on May 21 admonished us to pay attention. It is hard to do that when one can’t hear most of what is going on. In a quick survey of five Plymouth wearers of hearing aids, none knew if their hearing aids had telecoils or not. Do you have hearing aids? Do you have telecoils or not? And how does one find out?

A telecoil (t-coil) is a very small device in some hearing aids that can detect electromagnetic signals from sound systems then amplifies the signal and presents it to the ear through an individual’s hearing aid. The name telecoil originated from the early form of telephones that would emit an electromagnetic signal as well as sound. Hearing aids were subsequently designed to take advantage of that signal. The limiting factor to t-coils is size of the battery case. The coil is about 1/40 the size of a dime. But it can be crowded in the battery case. About 30-40% of hearing aids in the USA have t-coils.

What does this have to do with hearing aids at Plymouth?
Since the renovation of the sanctuary worship space (nave and chancel), we have a wired loop around the perimeter of the room that emits an electromagnetic signal carrying the sound from the church sound system. This loop also surrounds Burling and Greenwood rooms for overflow situations. When the sanctuary sound system is on, the loop picks up transmissions from microphones used by pastors and choir. Additionally, another loop in Waveland Hall is activated when the sound system is in use there.

The loop transmits sound directly to t-coils in hearing aids if the t-coil is activated. If it isn’t activated, the microphone in the hearing aid does the best it can. If t-coil is activated, pastors’ speech should be clear and audible. The microphone in the hearing aid works for talking to the person next to you in the pew, but not in a large space like the church.

How does one know if the hearing aid has a t-coil? And how is it activated?
The simplest method is to talk to one’s audiologist. Further, take off the hearing aid and look at the battery case. There may be a toggle switch or a button on it. It may be labeled T, M, or TM. Those would stand for Telecoil, Microphone, or Telephone and Microphone.

The hearing aid needs clear instruction on what it is
supposed to do:

  • T will allow you to listen to the loop/t-coil. You will be able to hear the church service clearly.
  • M will allow you to hear the person next to you with the microphone on the hearing aid.
  • TM will allow you to do both. You will be able to hear the church service and hear what a someone nearby is saying.


If there is a button on the battery case rather than a toggle, one may need to push it 1, 2, or 3 times to activate the desired function. Best bet: check with your audiologist.

How does one know the public space has a loop?
Look for a sign in the room or on the bulletin/program with a symbol of a blue or black background with two lines and the T. The T is key. Many public spaces such as the Civic Center have a loop.

What about the hearing devices available during church services?
These hearing devices also are connected to the main sound system (just ask one of our Deacons). However, these devices are not engineered to a specific hearing loss. If you have a personal hearing device, it will be calibrated to your needs and work much better for you.

Contact your audiologist or the church office at 515.255.3149.
We can learn this together! See you in church!


Vacation Bible School 2021


Vacation Bible School: Begins July 26!

Late registration is still open for Plymouth’s Virtual Vacation Bible School! Enjoy Stories, Skits, Songs, Movement, Crafts, Snacks and Games when it works for your family’s schedule! Click here to register! For registrations received after Saturday, July 17, every effort will be made to provide all craft materials.

Virtual VBS begins Monday, July 26. You will be able to access videos with skits, movement, and music whenever it works best for your family! Material pick up will begin Friday, July 23. More details to come.

Want to volunteer?
Plymouth’s virtual VBS begins on July 26. We are looking for assembly volunteers to help prep materials families will be taking home for VBS. Several assembly times are available. To sign up, click here.


Dan Olson/Facilities Update


Plymouth’s Facilities Manager, Dan Olson, has been with Plymouth for 21+ years. In July, Dan will be moving to Sioux City, and will be getting married to his fiancée, Sarah Nitzschke, later this fall. Dan said the biggest change he saw while at Plymouth was the 2003 addition and that the thing he will miss most about Plymouth is working with staff and the parishioners. Dan’s final day with Plymouth will be July 16. We are grateful for all the work Dan has done in our church, and we wish Dan and his wife-to-be the best in Sioux City!