Why Should Plymouth be Designated as a Just Peace Church?
Plymouth has a long tradition of action and speaking out for justice going back over 100 years. During the abolitionist movement, Plymouth served as a station on the Underground Railroad. Plymouth was also involved in the women’s suffrage movement, the civil rights movement, the Open and Affirming movement, and marriage equality. Becoming a Just Peace Church will provide Plymouth a public identity as a justice-doing, peace-seeking church.
A Just Peace congregation seeks justice and peace in every sphere of life including Just Peace with the Earth—so that life is sustained. By being wise stewards of the earth and working for ecological justice, we can protect water, air, plants and animals so that they are preserved for future generations. Plymouth members are actively involved with environmental issues on many fronts.
Organized under Plymouth’s Creation Care and Justice Coalition, a group of teams including The Green Team, Climate Change Advocates and Sustainable Food work on various environmental issues. The Coalition exists to mutually inform, coordinate and support each of the ministries of Plymouth’s various groups and members who are devoted to some aspect of care for and sustainability of creation. The Coalition thus seeks to increase Plymouth’s faithful impact on environmental health and justice. These activities reach all ages of Plymouth members, including the youth. Plymouth partners with Global Greens Farm, Coyote Run Farm, Wabi Sabi Farm, Drake Agricultural Law Center, Citizens Climate Lobby, Interfaith Green Coalition, and Interfaith Power and Light.
Economic Justice Task Force – This task force focuses on problems of income inequality, living wage, worker justice and wage theft. It collaborates with local and national advocacy organizations including Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and Interfaith Worker Justice.
Plymouth Women’s Career Closet – Located in downtown Des Moines at the Wellmark YMCA, need-based women can shop for free career clothes and be treated to an excellent shopping atmosphere. Church members, friends, and networking groups donate clothing and accessories such as shoes, purses, scarves and jewelry for the shop inventory where each customer can select up to three or four complete outfits. Volunteers staff the shop, sort the donations received at the church, and make deliveries of sorted items to the Y. The shop is open every Monday and Thursday afternoon and the first two Saturday mornings of each month.
Board of Benevolences – The Plymouth Board of Benevolences is responsible for much of the charitable giving made by Plymouth Church. In addition to supporting the wider mission of UCC, the board works to support our own community through special offering grants at holidays, monthly shelter meals, food pantry donations, collecting for Heifer International, Family Promise, Kids in the Kitchen, and the work of the Homeless Assistance Team.
Board of Christian Social Action – BCSA will grow in love of God and neighbor by exploring the relationship between our Christian faith and contemporary social issues, stimulating dialogues, and initiating and inviting action in response to Christ’s teachings of compassion for others within Plymouth Church and beyond. Each board member is involved with being a liaison with another group or committee and/or starting an initiative. Current committees/groups under the board are: RENEW, Transition from Prison, Mental Health/Disability, Human Trafficking, Green Team, Cuba Friendship Committee, Family Promise, Coffee Shop, Income Inequality, Peace Committee, as well as affiliations with AMOS, Interfaith Alliance, and DMARC.
Race Education Committee – Working to provide educational opportunities that will help Plymouth members understand the historical impact of racial discrimination and how it continues to affect our society today. The committee sponsored with the Board of Spiritual Growth the Sacred Conversations for Lent, “Telling our Spiritual Stories through the Lens of Race.”
Plymouth Young Adults – Plymouth Young Adults reserve the second week of every month for service. They have attended human trafficking events, the movie “I’m Not Racist…Am I?” and food preparation and delivery for people experiencing homelessness, among others. Some members also participate in the Des Moines chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) which is a national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice through community organizing, mobilizing and education. SURJ moves white people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability.
The Plymouth Peace Committee has been advocating for peace and justice at the local, national and international level for more than 25 years. Its activities have included teaching tolerance, fighting bullying in our schools, supporting refugees and immigrants, advocating for gun safety and educating the Plymouth community about military spending. The Committee sponsors the children’s book cart which includes peace and justice books for Plymouth’s youngest readers. The Committee partners with the Des Moines Faith Committee for Peace, Catholic Peace Ministries, American Friends Service Committee, Methodist Federation for Social Action and other groups to host community peace-related events. The Committee, with the support of the Board of Christian Social Action, formed the steering committee to consider if Plymouth should be a Just Peace church.