“Sounds of the City” Concerts


This summer will see the return of Plymouth’s well-received “Sounds of the City” Concert series, which features local performers. Join us in the Sanctuary for this summer’s series:

  • Friday, June 24 | 7:30 p.m. | Featuring a variety of repertoire performed by the Thornwood Clarinet Quartet Concert: Christopher Goodson, John Kahrl, Elizabeth Peterson, and Carrie Siepel.
  • Sunday, July 10 | 2 p.m. | Featuring Jazz alumni from Valley High School.
  • Thursday, July 21 | 7:30 p.m. | Featuring keyboard musicians from Plymouth Church and our two Steinway Grand Pianos.
  • Sunday, July 31 | 2 p.m. | Featuring Jazz alumni from Valley High School.
  • Sunday, August 28 | 7:30 p.m. | Celebration Concert and Sendoff for Carl Gravander featuring works for organ and a festival choir will perform Louis Vierne’s Solemn Mass.

World Refugee Day 2022


“No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.”

We declare these words aloud together in worship each week— a collective reminder and learned-by-heart call for radical hospitality and belonging. It’s a message that bears repeating in today’s conflict-laden world.

June 20 is World Refugee Day, designated by the United Nations as a day to honor refugees around the globe. The focus this year is on the right to seek safety.


Did you know?

  • More than 100 million people worldwide have been forced to flee their homes. That’s more than the population of California, Texas, Florida, and New Jersey combined.
  • As of 2022, one in every 78 people on earth has been forced to flee.
  • Over 1% of humanity—a figure equivalent to the 14th most populous country on earth— is now forcibly displaced from their homes.
  • The effects of climate change will worsen the crisis. By 2030, an estimated 700 million people will be at risk of being displaced by drought.
  • Although children account for less than one-third of the global population, nearly half of the world’s refugees are children.


How to Celebrate World Refugee Day

A round-up of World Refugee Day events and resources to engage your mind and heart. Walk, shop, pray, read, volunteer—there are many ways to use your time, attention, and actions to put radical love into practice.

Refugee Resettlement Fact Walk | through June 30, Colby Park
Get fresh air & go for a walk while learning some of the history of the modern refugee resettlement program in Iowa. You can find this exhibit at the Colby Park Outdoor Pavilion the entire month of June in Windsor Heights.

Open Book: A Celebration of Iowa Juneteenth and World Refugee Day | June 18, 12-5 p.m. at Western Gateway Park
Quite literally “check out” your neighbors from a wide range of life experiences at this Open Book event. Open Book is a unique story sharing format that puts a face on personal challenges as a way of building better community and connecting over things that matter. Participants (“books” and “readers”) often discover they have much in common despite their differences. Hosted by CultureALL and OLLI at Drake, as part of Iowa Juneteenth Neighbors Day.

Artists Celebrate World Refugee Day | June 20, 6-8 p.m. at Perkins Elementary School
This outdoor festival is hosted by Art Week Des Moines and Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa. Enjoy music, food, dance and vendors from across the world. Artists and performers include Genesis Youth Foundation, Bhutanese Community in Iowa, Karen Association of Iowa, Lao-American Association in Iowa, Maban Global Organization, NISAA African Family Services, Sudanese Girls Dance Group.

Global Greens Farmers Market | June 18 and June 25, 9-11 a.m.
Shop for naturally grown vegetables while supporting former refugees who are building small businesses in our community and finding a path to sustainability through farming. Open every Saturday morning at Lutheran Services in Iowa, 3200 University Avenue in Des Moines. June 18th and June 25th will feature live performing arts from Bhutanese Community in Iowa, Karen Association in Iowa, Lao American Community in Iowa, Maban Community in Iowa, NISAA African Family Services, Sudanese Girls Dance Group, and more.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner | June 27
CultureALL and Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa will host a Bhutanese dinner event on June 27. Try new foods, hear stories from refugee neighbors, and experience music and other art forms. Tickets are $25. Registration can be found here.

Support a refugee-owned restaurant or grocery store
Use this list of local restaurants and grocery stores from Refugee Alliance of Central Iowa to get out and try new food while supporting local businesses this summer.

A short list of recommended reading.


  • The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives edited by Viet Thanh Nguyen
  • We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria edited by Wendy Pearlman
  • Welcoming the Stranger by Matthew Soerens



  • The Map of Salt and Stars by Zeyn Joukhadar
  • Exit West by Mohsin Hamid


Graphic Memoir

  • The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui


Young Adult / Middle-Grade

  • The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon
  • Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
  • We Are Displaced by Malala Yousafzai


Picture Books

  • The Journey by Francesca Sanna
  • Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey by Margriet Ruurs & Nizar Ali Badr
  • What Is a Refugee? by Elise Gravel (an excellent introduction for young children)



Practice radical love by volunteering your time with one of these refugee service organizations.

Learn More

Every person on this planet has a right to seek safety—whoever they are, wherever they come from and whenever they are forced to flee.

  • Whoever they are, people forced to flee should be treated with dignity. Anyone can seek protection, regardless of who they are or what they believe. It is non-negotiable: seeking safety is a human right.
  • Wherever they come from, people forced to flee should be welcomed. Refugees come from all over the globe. To get out of harm’s way, they might take a plane, a boat, or travel on foot. What remains universal is the right to seek safety.
  • Whenever people are forced to flee, they have a right to be protected. Whatever the threat—war, violence, persecution—everyone deserves protection. Everyone has a right to be safe.

UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency, highlights five fundamental rights for people fleeing their homes in search of safety:

    Seeking asylum is a human right. Anyone fleeing persecution, conflict, or human rights abuses has a right to seek protection in another country.
    Borders should remain open to all people forced to flee. Restricting access and closing borders can make the journey even more dangerous for people seeking safety.
    People can’t be forced to return to a country if their life or freedom would be at risk. This means that countries shouldn’t push anyone back without first evaluating the dangers they would face back home.
    People should not be discriminated against at borders. All applications for refugee status must be given fair consideration, regardless of factors like race, religion, gender and country of origin.
    People forced to flee should be treated with respect and dignity. They are entitled to safe and dignified treatment like any human being. Among other things, this means keeping families together, protecting people from traffickers, and avoiding arbitrary detention.
  • Developing countries bear a disproportionate share of the burden.
    Lower- and middle-income countries host 83% of the world’s refugees, while high-income countries, who have more resources available, host only 17%.
  • Protecting people forced to flee is a collective global responsibility.
    Countries and communities that receive and host large numbers of refugees need steadfast support and solidarity from the international community. A global crisis requires a coordinated global response. All countries need to do their part.
  • Reaching safety is just the start.
    Once they are out of harm’s way, people fleeing war or persecution need opportunities to heal, learn, work and thrive. And they need solutions, such as the chance to return home in safety and dignity, to integrate locally, or in the most vulnerable cases, to be resettled to a third country.

While millions of Ukrainian refugees have received a warm welcome around the world, this is not the case for many people fleeing violence. Tom Wong, founding director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Center at the University of California, San Diego, said the racial disparities are clear. “The U.S. has responded without hesitation by extending humanitarian protections to predominantly white and European refugees,” he told PBS Newshour. “All the while, predominantly people of color from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia continue to languish.”

For over four decades, faith communities have been crucial leaders in the “public-private partnerships” that make refugee resettlement effective.

In the past year, faith and community partners have stepped up with renewed energy to welcome over 76,000 Afghans evacuated after the Taliban’s takeover last August, and to assist tens of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing for safety to the United States—entering primarily through temporary protections known as “Humanitarian Parole.”

Yet, after years of decimation, many other challenges remain to restore the US refugee program, which has actually welcomed less than 8,800 refugees in the first half of the current fiscal year; despite officially approving for 125,000 refugees to enter this year.

We hope you will use the resources on this page, during World Refugee Day and beyond, to learn more about refugees, to advocate for restoring and strengthening refugee resettlement programs, and to support welcome efforts for asylum seekers and other vulnerable populations.

This World Refugee Day resource list is brought to you by the Plymouth Welcoming Migrants Committee (WMC). The WMC puts radical love into action by supporting migrant and refugee individuals and families in our community, and by advocating for just immigration policy and practice at the local, state and national levels. We do this through education, advocacy and cooperative efforts within Plymouth and with community and national groups. The WMC meets on the second Thursday of the month, 5:30-7:30pm on Zoom. To learn more, contact


Summer Concert Series


This summer will see the return of Plymouth’s well-received “Sounds of the City” Concert series, which features local performers. Join us in the Sanctuary for this summer’s series:

  • Friday, June 17 | 7:30 p.m. | Featuring Jazz alumni from Valley High School.
  • Friday, June 24 | 7:30 p.m. | Featuring a variety of repertoire performed by the Thornwood Clarinet Quartet Concert: Christopher Goodson, John Kahrl, Elizabeth Peterson, and Carrie Siepel. 
  • Sunday, July 10 | 2 p.m. | Featuring Jazz alumni from Valley High School.
  • Thursday, July 21 | 7:30 p.m. | Featuring keyboard musicians from Plymouth Church and our two Steinway Grand Pianos.
  • Sunday, July 31 | 2 p.m. | Featuring Jazz alumni from Valley High School.
  • Sunday, August 28 | 7:30 p.m. | Celebration Concert and Sendoff for Carl Gravander featuring works for organ and a festival choir will perform Louis Vierne’s Solemn Mass.

Prayer Vigil


We do not have answers to what is senseless. But we believe that God’s heart is grieved and anger stirred by anyone who puts a stumbling block before a little one, let alone takes their life. We find strength in our community and in our tradition that does not turn away from lament, that speaks truth to power, that centers and values children, and that proclaims the goodness and sacredness of life. In worship, advocacy, and prayer, we will keep lifting our voices to proclaim that life is good, holy, and sacred. Join us for a time of prayer and lament in Plymouth’s sanctuary, Thursday, May 26 at 5 p.m.

Click here to read Plymouth’s email regarding the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas.


Summer Worship Schedule


With summer on the horizon, Plymouth is excited to announce a new worship schedule for the summer season beginning June 12!

Saturdays at 5:30 p.m. | Worship in Waveland Hall will continue to be offered as normal.

Sundays at 9 a.m. | Brand new “Word and Table” service. This brief but contemplative service will last approximately 20 minutes and will include Scripture readings, prayer, a short meditation, and communion.

Sundays at 10 a.m. | This service will feel like the current 9 and 11 a.m. services and will end around 11 a.m., allowing us to gather for several unique engagement opportunities throughout the summer.

We will also have a few guest preachers visiting Plymouth this summer!

June 18-19 | Rev. Kevin Vandiver, PhD Candidate at Princeton Theological Seminary

July 9-10 | Connie Ryan, Executive Director of Interfaith Alliance of Iowa

July 16-17 | Rev. Sarah Trone Garriott, Coordinator of Interfaith Engagement at DMARC

Beyond Sunday mornings, we hope you’ll consider signing up for a Summer Fun Group. These are great opportunities for you to hang out and enjoy the summer with your friends and neighbors at Plymouth in a small group setting.


Know Your Neighbor


To grow in love of God and neighbor! That’s what we are called to do as members of Plymouth Church.

We’ve started our summer series with some fun and enlightening events—the Pride parade, sermon from Kevin Vandiver for Juneteenth, and a visit to the Brenton Arboretum.

July: This month, we will celebrate some of Plymouth’s long-term partnerships. These partners bring special focus and expertise to our efforts to advocate, serve, organize, and seek justice in our community. Plymouth will celebrate these partnerships during worship, fellowship, and conversation.

July 3: Plymouth Place: Let’s get to know our neighbors across the street at Plymouth Place! In case you’re not familiar, Plymouth Place was built at 4111 Ingersoll Ave. by Plymouth Church in 1956. Read more about the history of this unique project here. On Sunday, July 3, after the 10 a.m. worship service, we will all walk across the street and treat our friends at Plymouth Place to ice cream from Outside Scoop. In addition to ice cream, there will be craft projects for members of all ages and plenty of conversation. Dress in your summer casual clothes and come to church on July 3 ready to share a little holiday cheer with our Plymouth’s closest neighbors.

July 9 & 10: The Interfaith Alliance of Iowa celebrates religious freedom by championing the rights of individuals, by promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and by empowering diverse voices to challenge extremism. Plymouth is honored to welcome Interfaith Alliance of Iowa’s Executive Director, Connie Ryan, as our guest preacher for Saturday evening worship and 10 a.m. Sunday worship. Ryan will also answer questions during an expanded Fellowship Forum at 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 10.

July 16 & 17: The Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) is an interfaith organization with a mission of working together to meet basic human needs for the greater Des Moines community. DMARC manages a Food Pantry Network consisting of 14 separate partnering food pantry sites, a Mobile Food Pantry, two food warehouses, and numerous community supporters. Plymouth is honored to welcome DMARC’s Coordinator of Interfaith Engagement, the Rev. Sarah Trone Garriott, as our guest preacher for Saturday evening worship and 10 Sunday worship. Garriott will also answer questions during an expanded Forum at 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 10.

Watch for more details about a special food drive at Plymouth to further celebrate DMARC!

July 23 & 24: This will be Lindsey Braun’s last weekend with us in worship. Come hear her preach to us one last time and join us at 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 24 for a luncheon celebration of Lindsey’s six-year ministry with us. Watch all church publications for further details.

July 30 & 31: A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy (AMOS) believes in the inherent dignity of each person, and every person’s ability to take action. We seek to channel individual action into a responsible and powerfully organized force for the common good. The Plymouth AMOS Core Team has been an integral part of AMOS in the community since its inception in 1996. Watch church publications for further details about how Plymouth will celebrate this important partnership.

August: As students and teachers prepare to re-enter the classroom, we will learn more about the local schools and neighborhoods surrounding Plymouth. Look for more details in the August Contact.


Summer Fun for Kids and Families


This year, in place of Vacation Bible School (VBS), there will be activities and Fun Groups for kids and families. We hope the options for dates, times and activities will involve more children and families through the summer. Please be on the lookout for information in the Thursday newsletter, Current Happenings and on Plymouth social media.

Information will also be shared through email. For more information or to be added to the email list, please contact Georgia ( or Samantha (


God in Nature


Being outdoors can nourish our souls and bring us closer to God. Early Christians even called nature “God’s first book.” On Sunday, June 26, we’ll spend the afternoon discovering God in nature at beautiful Brenton Arboretum, a living museum of trees, shrubs, and native prairies.

The event begins with lunch catered by Uncle Wendell’s BBQ, followed by a short program presented by pastors Jared and Lindsey, who will speak on encountering God in nature and lead us in a guided meditation. After the program, you can go on a guided walk ($5 fee), explore the trails on your own, walk the on-site labyrinth, or simply relax. We encourage members of all ages to attend. There’s plenty of space (including a playground) for families with children to explore.

Brenton Arboretum, Dallas Center | Sunday, June 26, 12:30-3 p.m.
The event and lunch are offered at no charge by the Board of Spiritual Growth and Adult Education. Free-will offerings will be accepted to defray lunch costs. Registration is required. Registration ends June 12. Register here. For more information, email


Transition from Prison Ministry


Our Ministry is looking for a few good people who would like to mentor individuals who are leaving prison and looking for guidance. Mentors serve as listeners and coaches, sounding boards and advocates. Typically mentors meet with their assigned mentees weekly in person, by phone, email or texts, as desired by the returning person. If this sounds interesting please call John Mathes, chair, at 641.521.2971 or email at


Plymouth’s Summer Choir


Each summer at Plymouth our regular choirs take a break, but there are many opportunities to sing: Summer Choir sings on several Sundays in the summer. Summer Choir offers a unique opportunity for anyone to show up on Sunday morning, rehearse, and sing in the choir. This is everyone’s opportunity to participate. If you are a sixth grader, a centenarian, or somewhere in between, join us to learn an easy anthem and then lead worship. Sing any Sunday you like. No robes, no commitment, and no experience necessary. Just show up!

  • Rehearsal: 9-9:50 a.m. in the Sanctuary
  • Sing in 10 a.m. Service
  • Dates: June 12, 19, 26 and August 7, 14, 21