Service of Hope & Light


Join us on Thursday, January 6 at 5:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary for a Service of Light & Hope: Praying for the New Year. All are invited to participate in a unique candlelight prayer service. This will be a time for reflections, readings, and prayers as we face the New Year while longing for peace in our community, nation, and world. This service will also be live-streamed here on Facebook and on our YouTube channel. We hope to see you there!


Welcome New Members!


The following new members joined Plymouth Church on Saturday, October 9 and Sunday, October 10 following our virtual Discover Plymouth class. Welcome!

Mike Bany & Ro Ruth-Bany
Mike worked in newspaper production for 43 years and retired from Gannett in 2020. Mike enjoys doing narration for the Iowa Library for the Blind. He has also participated in a number of theatre productions here in Iowa, most with Lorenzo and Robin’s Iowa Shakespeare Experience.

Ro was raised in a UCC church. It feels like home for her. After earning a BA at college in Ohio, she earned her second BA in Episcopal Diaconal Studies from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. Ro has been a Stephen Minister for three years. In December 2020, she stopped working. Instead she focused on helping others, feed the hungry, and learn more about how she can help her community as a Stephen Minister.

Mike and Ro met in a Reader’s Theater group at college in Ohio. They were married in 1982. Together they have one son who recently earned his MBA and lives with his wife south of Portland Oregon. They’ve lived and worked in Ohio, Illinois, Virginia, Maryland, California, and Iowa. Plymouth’s acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community is very important to them. Mike and Ro are thrilled to be joining the Plymouth community.

Robyn & Elizabeth Belden
Robyn and Elizabeth (Liz) Belden have been attending Plymouth since early 2020 after moving to Marshalltown, IA from the Nashville, TN area in 2019. Liz is splitting her time between working as an administrative assistant at Mid-Iowa Community Action and completing an internship with a web development company. She recently graduated with a degree in Computer Networking & Management. She graduated with her first degree in Vocal Music from Simpson College in 2011. In Tennessee, she sang with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra for six years. Robyn and Liz have already joined the Plymouth Chancel Choir and have enjoyed singing every Sunday. Robyn completed a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education from Vanderbilt University in 2010 and works as an Infant & Toddler Development Specialist in the Early Head Start Program at Mid-Iowa Community Action. Liz likes to spend her free time baking and gardening. Robyn is always watching sports or has her nose in a book. They both love to attend Broadway shows and symphony concerts.

Mark Gookin & Benton Mass
Mark and Benton live together in West Des Moines. Together they enjoy travel, playing golf, biking, boating, spending time with friends, and playing with their dog, Blitz. Mark and Benton both work for UnityPoint Health Des Moines. Mark specifically works with Eyerly Ball, which provides mental health services. They spend most of their summers away at a lake house in Clear Lake, Iowa. Benton also enjoys playing piano in his free time and is from Atlantic, which is a small community in Southwest Iowa. Both are so excited to become active members at Plymouth.

Erin Hooker
Erin is originally from Colorado and now lives in Des Moines. She is a writer and enjoys running, cooking, reading, and spending time outside with her fiancé and French bulldog.

Nancy Moon
Nancy is a long-time resident of Des Moines. She retired from Meredith Corporation after nearly 25 years. She enjoys playing bridge, traveling, and lunching with friends. She’s a season ticket holder to the Des Moines Symphony and the Des Moines Playhouse, so she’s looking forward to the art and music events Plymouth offers. Most of all, she loves to spend time with her family.

Tom & Julie Preisser
Tom and Julie have recently moved to the Des Moines area from Dayton, Ohio, where they listed for almost 50 years. They have two sons, Evan and Jonathan, and five grandchildren. Evan lives in Rhode Island and Jonathan lives here in Des Moines with his wife, Rachel.

Julie is a retired college librarian. She enjoys reading, especially about current political issues and biographies. She hopes to have time to help the Plymouth Quilters and return to her knitting.  Tom is a retired college historian. Nothing pleases him more than spending time with his sons and grandchildren. He has a great interest in current affairs, science, mountains, and WWII airplanes. He has traveled to Nepal to see Everest and to Pakistan to see K2.


Plymouth Calendar & Event Requests Form


Click here for our full Calendar of Events

Event/Meeting Request
Is your Plymouth board, committee or group planning a return to in-person meetings? If so, we’d like to help you plan for success by introducing you to our new, online, Event / Meeting Request form. You can now request a meeting space simply by accessing your favorite web browser (using your smart phone or computer) and click here.

Then, simply complete the form in as much detail as possible. When you finish, click the “Submit” button. You’ll receive a confirmation email that your request was received successfully. Note: Because there are many things that have to happen “behind the scenes” when a room is scheduled, we do ask that you make your event or meeting request at least 15 days in advance of your planned usage in order to guarantee that the space is ready when you are.


Need A Shorter Term Solution?
If your group needs a space to meet at the last minute, perhaps our hoteling option will work for you! For those who may not be aware, “hoteling” refers to the provision of meeting space on short notice (1-7 days in advance). We have set aside the Peace Room, located in the Center for Spiritual Growth, exclusively for this purpose. The room will comfortably hold 8-10 individuals, and may be “reserved” using the whiteboard located on the wall outside the room. Simply write the name of your group on the board under the day and time that you’ll need it! (Please be aware that use of this room is first-come, first-serve, is only available when the building is accessible (generally 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday) and can be reserved no more than seven days in advance.)

Questions? Please contact our Executive Assistant, Daniel Schott.


An Introductory Conversation with Rev. Sarai Rice


Rev. Sarai Rice is the newly selected Interim Senior Minister for Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ, Des Moines. In this video on Plymouth Church’s YouTube channel, Rev. Rice is interviewed by 2020-2021 Church Council Moderator David Johnson.


Sarai Rice Named Interim Senior Minister


We are very pleased to announce that we have called our new Interim Senior Minister—Rev. Sarai Rice. This past Tuesday, September 22, Church Council approved this action. Sarai will begin her work with us on Monday, October 5. Sarai’s name will be familiar to many; she recently provided her consulting expertise to our strategic planning group as they crafted our Practicing Radical Love plan.

Here’s a recap of the process that led us to this moment. The August 24th Moderator Minute provided insight about why calling an Interim Senior Minister is important and outlined the selection process. A collaborative effort resulted in a robust job description that grounded our search.

Former moderators comprised the initial search team: Dave Everett, Steve Jacobs, and Beth Stelle Jones. They sent their top three of five candidates on to the interview team that was approved at the August 25th Church Council meeting: Dave Everett, Anita Fleming-Rife, Jim Green, Jodi Gruening, David Johnson, Linda Sullivan, and LeAnn Stubbs. And then the entire Plymouth staff conducted group interviews with all three candidates. After this thorough vetting process, our top candidate emerged. On Tuesday, September 22nd the Church Council voted to accept the Interim Senior Minister candidate, who was recommended unanimously by the interview teams and the church staff.

Some may ask, “Is Sarai too close to Plymouth Church, does she know us too well?” In fact, we considered this question, also discussed it with Sarai, and we determined quite the opposite: her considerable consulting and organizational expertise, combined with her understanding of our operations and our values means she will “hit the ground running.” There is much work ahead! Considering revisions to our bylaws, laying the groundwork for a new senior minister search, acting on our new strategic plan, continuing our virtual and then in-person worship—all these initiatives and more. We are very enthused Sarai will be part of our journey over the coming months, helping us grow in love of God and neighbor.

Comments from some staff and others involved in the interview process include: “Sarai is exactly who we need right now. . .” and “She demonstrated great pastoral care during thinterview by the questions she asked us.” When we asked Sarai about her favorite Bible story, she referenced  an Old Testament story of Jacob and God’s advice to him. One of her takeaways from the story is to “listen to everyone”.

In sum, we believe Sarai’s experience, wisdom, compassion and enthusiasm are exactly what Plymouth needs at this moment in time. As our congregation gains clarity about who we are, and what we need from lay and staff leadership, particularly our next called and settled Sr. Minister, Sarai’s gifts will serve us well. And it sure doesn’t hurt that she is super smart and has a great sense of humor!

There will be many opportunities to hear from and get to know Sarai in the coming days. By Monday afternoon a brief video chat between Moderator David Johnson and Sarai will be posted on the website. Please check back to see the Q&A.  With radical love, we welcome Sarai Rice to Plymouth Congregational Church!


Matt Mardis-LeCroy Resigns as Senior Minister


Church Council met in executive session with Senior Minister Matt Mardis-LeCroy on Tuesday, July 21, 2020, where it received his letter of resignation. You can read the full email sent to the congregation following that by clicking here, or using the Senior Minister Transition tab at the top of this webpage. Worship on Saturday, Aug. 1 and Sunday, Aug. 2 will feature Matt’s Service of Leaving, and we hope you will join us on Facebook Saturday at 5 p.m. or on YouTube Sunday at 9 a.m. to participate.

As the Senior Minister Transition progresses, you may continue to refer to the tab at the top of the website menu bar for current information.

Thank you good and faithful servant.