Fourth Sunday of Easter

A weekly e-mail from

Plymouth Congregational Church


232 E. Onondaga Street, Syracuse NY | 13202 | 315 474 4836


  Welcoming All, Growing in Faith, Working for Justice and Peace

 Preparing for Sunday Worship

We welcome Rev. John Hottenstein to the pulpit. John is moderator of Plymouth Church and an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. Quinn Caldwell will be in Washington State, where he will give the keynote address and preach at the annual meeting of the Pacific Northwest Conference of the UCC.

We welcome Alice Hatt as substitute organist and choir director. Minister of Music Joe Downing is away, visiting our former Ministerial Intern, Anneke Peereboom, in Germany.

The Forum after worship presents the resolution that will be brought before the UCC General Synod in June concerning the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

The presenters will be the Rev. Dr. Marjorie Purnine, Plymouth member and associate conference minister for leadership development, and Dr. Dana Olwan, assistant professor, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at SU.

Sunday afternoon, from 1 to 4 p.m., you are invited to hear the organs of Plymouth, Immaculate Conception Cathedral, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Park Central Presbyterian Church. During this “traveling concert” the organists will share music that shows both the gentle and majestic sides of these four magnificent instruments. Invite your friends to join you for a beautiful afternoon of music, sponsored by the Cathedral Square Association. Advance tickets are available at for $12.  Tickets purchased on the day of the event will be $15.

Focus Scripture John 10:1-6, 10-18

“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them…

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”


           Questions for Reflection

  1. How does your church identify itself as Christian, by its beliefs or its practices or its history or mainly its name?
  2. Who are “other sheep” that do not belong to the same “fold” that you belong to? Are there those who belong to no fold at all?
  3. Who and what are the thieves, bandits, strangers, and wolves that threaten you as a fold?
  4. What sort of “abundant life” does this “beautiful” shepherd bring to the life of your church?
  5. How often do you feel that you fail to recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd, the Stillspeaking God? How is that Stillspeaking God calling your church today?

Reflection by Kate Matthews

An open-ended flock

Like Jesus, we are to provide a space where all are welcome. The flock is open-ended, not closed. Jesus owns up to having “others” that he cares about, too, and remembering that nurtures in us a whole new perspective on hospitality. It’s more than a warm welcome to worship, and then a cup of coffee downstairs afterward (however good a warm welcome and a cup of coffee are). Deep hospitality is difficult; it tests us. It calls, even pushes, us out to our growing edges. In Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, “An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith,” she reflects on “encountering others” as a spiritual practice, and then she expands our understanding of hospitality to embrace not just “nice” visitors (like us, that is), but strangers, people not like us at all. That, after all, is the biblical thing to do, however “counterintuitive” love of the stranger may be in our fear-filled, insecure culture. Taylor reminds us of the scholarship of Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of Great Britain, who notes that we are commanded much more often (36 times to 1) to love the stranger than to love our neighbor (not that we do very well at either, alas).

Ironically (and here’s a good thing to consider at our church meetings), we ourselves are “other,” too, when we meet strangers. Taylor does a wonderful job at describing our tendency to be at the center of our awareness and to forget that other people are at the center of their own awareness, at the center of their own story; instead, we think of them as on the fringes of ours. (Taylor’s book, by the way, is an outstanding one, very helpful as we understand the importance of spiritual formation in the life of faith.)

The Reverend Kathryn Matthews serves as Dean of the Amistad Chapel at the national offices of the United Church of Christ in Cleveland, Ohio. To read her entire reflection, go to

 In Our Church Community

 Bold Vision Bold Witness Capital Campaign

We continue to receive commitments that signify participation in our Bold Vision Bold Witness capital campaign. You may mail your card to the church office or place it in Sunday’s offering plate. If you need a commitment, please see George Bain. Won’t you prayerfully consider your three-year commitment to this campaign to support Plymouth’s vision of a renovated Sanctuary, a building with three floors accessible by elevator and lift, other building improvements, a new web site, and a mission giving project to serve our Syracuse community? And join the 75 households that have made their commitments totaling more than $560,000 to the campaign.

Next Sunday

Next Sunday, Plymouth regular Dr. Tom Welch, professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Upstate Medical University and medical director at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital, will speak to the current conversation around children’s vaccines. In worship, Quinn will focus on the relationship between medicine and faith, and the sometimes surprising role our Puritan forbears played in early debates around inoculation and vaccination.

Bible Study Resumes

Our Sunday morning Bible study will resume on Sunday, May 10, after worship. This is a weekly examination of the following week’s preaching text(s). Grab a cup of coffee (but don’t worry about a Bible; we’ll provide those!) and join us downstairs in the Adult Ed room. Facilitated by Quinn Caldwell and friends.

Quinn’s Non-Office Office Hours

Quinn loves his office, but he’s sick of sitting in it. So, you’ll be able to find him at Recess Coffee (110 Harvard Place) from 4 to 6 p.m. on Mondays and Café Kubal on South Salina Street from 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday mornings. Come join him; no appointment is necessary. But note, that due to a prior commitment, Quinn will not hold these office hours on Thursday, April 30.

Ushers, Greeters, Liturgists and Community Time

Consider signing up! We’ll give you all the training you need, and great partners as well.  To sign up as a greeter, email Craig Greczyn at To be an usher, email Jared Titus at To proclaim the word and share your voice as a Liturgist, call Jackie Manier at 760-3177 and leave a message. To host Community Time, email Linda Milosky at

Plymouth on YouTube

Did you know that Plymouth Church has a YouTube channel? You can find recordings of sermons given at Plymouth on it, along with some of the choir’s anthems. Our YouTube channel is one way that Plymouth is reaching out to folks who missed a Sunday or who want to listen again to a sermon or anthem, and letting the wider community and world know about us. You can search YouTube for Plymouth Church Syracuse or use this link:

You can also listen to any sermon since November 28, 2012, on Plymouth’s website at

Plymouth Is on Facebook

If you are on Facebook and you haven’t “liked” the church yet, please do!

Help Plymouth When You Shop

Want to help Plymouth when you’re shopping? Here are two ways.

Staples office supply store has a Rewards Program that allows Plymouth to benefit. When you purchase anything at Staples, tell the checkout person the church’s phone number (474-4836) to activate a reward and Staples will direct 5 percent of that sale to Plymouth. Joan Fogarty has copies of the church’s Rewards card if you would like to present that at Staples. Ask her for one.

And you can raise money by shopping with GoodShop and GoodSearch: has added a new feature to expand the ways you can shop and donate a percentage of each purchase to Plymouth. You can use Goodswipe, a credit card rewards program. By linking your card with one signup, you can earn donations to Plymouth for every in-store purchase at 50,000 stores. Goodswipe uses bank-level encryption to keep your information safe. To learn more about Goodswipe, go to

When shopping online, you can use and benefit Plymouth. For more information on that, go to, enter Plymouth Congregational UCC in the box labeled “Who do you GoodShop for.”

Pastoral Care

The Rev. Quinn Caldwell is available to respond to emergencies, to visit those with special needs, or for conversation and prayer about whatever’s on your mind or heart.  You can reach him at 315-474-4836 or In an emergency, you can reach him at 617-851-0158.

Food Pantry Offerings

The Food Pantry requests your participation is its “toiletries of the month” collection. Contributions of shampoo are being gathered in April. Put your donations in the box in the back of the Sanctuary. Men’s XL gloves are especially needed. Please help.

The Week Ahead

Thur. April 30              Food Pantry, 10 a.m. to noon, Parlor

Handbells Rehearsal, 5:30 p.m., Sanctuary

Choir Rehearsal, 7 p.m., Memorial Hall

Sun. May 3 – Fifth Sunday of Easter

Worship – Communion, 10 a.m.

Learning Community Chapel Time, 10 a.m.

Learning Community Classes, 11 a.m.

Forum:  Vaccinations and Vaccines. Presenter: Dr. Thomas Welch, professor and chair of     Department of Pediatrics, Upstate Medical University, and medical director, Upstate Golisano   Children’s Hospital, 11:15 a.m.

 In the Wider Community

Angky Budiardjono Performs Sunday

Plymouth choir member Angky Budiardjono is among the winners of the annual Concerto and Aria Competition in Syracuse University’s Setnor School of Music who will perform with the Syracuse University Symphony Orchestra and guest conductor Geneviève Leclair on Sunday, April 26, at 5 p.m. in Setnor Auditorium, Crouse College. The concert is free and open to the public. Budiardjono, a baritone, will sing Pierrot’s Tanzlied from “Die tote Stadt” Op. 12, Act 2, by Korngold. Shelby Dems, violin, will perform the Allegro from Haydn’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in C Major, and Patricia Min, piano, will play the first movement of Grieg’s Piano Concerto. The orchestra will also perform works by Mozart and Nielsen.

Catholic Charities Seeks Household Items

Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement is accepting donations of household goods such as kitchen tables and chairs, couches (no sofa beds) living room chairs, beds, dressers, lamps, dishes, blankets, linens or other usable items. It cannot accept knick-knacks or decorative items. Pickups are on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Please call 474-7428 ext. 31 to arrange a pickup. Plymouth’s Kelly Tooley works in the Refugee Resettlement program.

Marriage Equality in One Florida Community

A wedding at the United Church of Christ in Sebring.

 Behind the Names on the Supreme Court Case

How Jim Obergefell and John Arthur got their names on the gay rights case.

A Sad Anniversary in Nigeria

One year has passed since Boko Haram kidnapped schoolgirls.

Soul Hungry?

How to take care of your spirit the six days of each week you don’t go to worship? The UCC has launched a new area of its web site designed to support people in their individual spiritual journeys: Feed Your Spirit. Daily prayers, a biblical personality test, advice column from God-lovers, and magic 8-ball await. Check it out at

God in Your Inbox

The Stillspeaking Daily Devotional is written by UCC pastors and leaders, including Quinn Caldwell. Subscribers are sent a daily email containing a Scripture passage, short reflection, and a prayer. Sign up at

Joys and Concerns

In the week ahead, you are invited to pray for

Terry Howell, Quinn Caldwell, and Asa on the death of Terry’s grandmother, and for the repose of Melba Colby’s soul.

For the repose of the soul of Greg Wright’s sister, Pam, who died in hospice in-patient care April 11

Dottie Clark

Dawn Franits

Bill Andrews

Fung Chan Chin

Jean Henderson

Caroline Ryder

Pat Partridge and her husband, Kent, as he cares for her at home



Betsy and Don

Stan Reeves

Dorothy, a dear friend of Joan Fogarty

Jamie Shavers

Cath and Barbara

Lee Dreamer, continuing with cancer care

Michelle Diegoli

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