George Wolcott retires as Minister of Visitation

When we think of our First-Plymouth ministers, the first thing that comes to mind is the robed sages in the pulpit. But there’s another type of minister that travels a lot of miles to offer support to one soul at a time. Minister of Visitation George Wolcott has been making visits to First-Plymouth members in hospitals and homes since June of 2008. As he retires from that position the end of 2016, the congregation will celebrate his work in services Jan. 8, with a reception between the 9:00 and 10:30 services.

Wolcott’s compassion, background as a physician and sense of humor have provided many First-Plymouth members with a caring minister’s presence at critical times.

“The times and events that have given me the most joy and ‘reward’ have been when I have been able to bring a little of God’s light and some humor and laughter into a dark, fear filled room. Obviously, that does not happen every time, as my halo frequently gets lost in transit,” said Wolcott.

Wolcott has been making between 20 and 50 visits per month, and although he doesn’t think of his work as a ‘numbers game,’ a rough estimate based on a crude average would put his number of visits at approximately 450-500 per year. Over the course of his tenure, that adds up to about 3,570 visits.

Long before Wolcott became minister of visitation, he was a physician. He sees the two roles as very complementary.

“My work as a physician blended into the minister of visitation role.  Death and dying has been a large segment of my medical life. My youngest son was asked in kindergarten, ‘ What does your father do?’ James replied, ‘Turns off respirators.’ So for better or worse, there is no fear of death--it is often a friend; and one can cry with those who are dying while still working to give them some of God’s comfort and a small wrinkle of joy and happiness to their life.”

Wolcott says he has seen many changes over the years. Tighter privacy policies for medical providers make it difficult to know the needs of our hurting members--who is in the hospital, and what their status is-- unless the church is informed by a friend or family member. He also noted an increased number of members well into their 90’s who are unlikely to be able to get to church. For them, both visits and First-Plymouth’s “Reach Out and Live” television broadcasts are important connections.

Wolcott is continuing to practice medicine, serving as a pediatric neurologist at Boys Town Research Hospital.

“Life for me has been amazing as there have always seemed to be doors and window for me to open and go through. I do not know what God has in store for me, but I’m not very good at sitting in the corner with my blanket and with my thumb to suck on,” he said.

George by the numbers

Average visits per month:
depending on need (average of about 35)

Number of years as Minister of Visitation: 8.5

Estimated total visits: At least 3,570

Estimated number of vistees who felt better because of George: Thousands

Lincoln TeamMate Sunday

January 22

Dr. Tom Osborne will be speaking at the 9 and 10:30 services and Emily Haack, Outreach Specialist, will present at 11:59 to give an invitation to join the effort as a mentor.  First-Plymouth currently has over 30 members meeting with students, yet a significant waiting list of children are hoping to be matched. Astaff member will be available between services in our hallway for more info. 

Children and Family Coordinator at FP East
(part time position)

First-Plymouth is looking for a person to help grow our children, youth and family ministry at FP East - 9:30 worship at Kloefkorn Elementary.  15-20 hours per week. Must be available Sunday mornings from 8:30 – 11am. Other hours arranged with Patrick Messer. Experience working with children is preferred. Visit firstplymouth.orgfor a complete job description. Contact Shelly Wachman for more information or to submit a resume. (

First-Plymouth’s extraordinary welcome mat is a team effort

There are a million details in taking care of a church the size of First-Plymouth. Head Building Manager Adam Witte and his team may not be the first ‘face’ of First-Plymouth, but their work adds up to a beautiful welcome for every person who comes through the door. A labor of love; exquisite attention to detail.

Our church welcomes thousands through its doors each month for worship, events, speakers, Sunday School, preschool, yoga, basketball, choir, board meetings and just for meditation time.
Here’s what it takes to offer a beautiful welcome:

  • Polish the 28,500 square feet of hard floors, including in the sanctuary—check.
  • Vacuum 27,500 square feet of carpet – check.
  • Set up tables for a funeral luncheon – check.
  • Set up coffee, juice, water for every meeting—check.
  • Set up chairs in the chapel – check.
  • Get chairs out of the way for a youth activity in Mayflower Hall—check.
  • Make sure there’s a mic and podium ready for a speaker—check.
  • Set up a video feed into the chapel for an overflow crowd—check.
  • Maintain the 1.7 acre site—check.
  • De-ice the walks –check.
  • Clean the bathrooms—check.
  • Clean the kitchens—check.
  • Change light bulbs—check.
  • Replenish the toilet paper and hand towels—check.
  • Polish, clean, arrange, dust, vacuum, set-up, repeat.

The First-Plymouth family is fortunate to have a core staff to handle these duties and
many more.

Witte leads a team including Jenny Bauer, and part-time staff members Kelsy Bahr, Stephen McAlister, Justin Doran and Pat Belk. In case you don’t already know them, a bit of background on each of them will be shared in the coming months on the church’s Facebook page. Meanwhile, take the time to notice and ‘like’ their fantastic work.

Soul Food Festival with the Quinn Chapel AME Church

Sunday, February 26, 11:30am-3:00pm, at First-Plymouth
Tickets available for purchase soon.

New Year’s Resolutions

Would you like to be more involved at church? Become an Usher! Usher teams serve only four months a year and it requires just a few extra minutes of your time on the Sunday you serve. Contact for details.

Tennis Shoes Needed for Guatemala Mission

A group will be traveling to Guatemala on Jan. 14 to build homes. New or slightly used tennis shoes are needed for the children (all sizes). Soccer is the number one sport. Children check in and out tennis shoes from the school to play. Donation boxes are located in the east & west entrances.

First-Plymouth Stephen Ministers are ready to help
when life gets messy

Let’s face it--life is messy. Life sometimes throws us curve balls.

Not what we expected, not what we wanted, but somehow, we have to get through it—whatever ‘get through it’ looks like.

If you’re going through a tough time or know someone who is—maybe a divorce, grief from a loss through death, problems with a relationship, problems with a job situation--it can feel overwhelming or embarrassing. And it’s tempting to wait it out—hide in the darkness—because it really isn’t anybody else’s business. But you don’t have to ‘go it alone’ or ‘go public’. If you are ready to change the story—rewrite a more positive ending to a less-than-pleasant chapter, the smartest step forward might be to work with a First-Plymouth Stephen Minister.

First-Plymouth has a small group of fully-trained lay ministers who are more than ready to walk alongside someone going through a challenging time, in a completely confidential manner.
A Stephen Minister can be a crucial sounding board and guide, whether for a month or a couple of years. First-Plymouth Stephen Ministers range in age from 30-something to 80-something, are trained and ready to help.

Stephen Ministers can help anyone in the community write a more positive end to a challenging story. Collectively, they’ve already done just that for more than 30-plus individuals this year-  free and confidentially.

If you or someone you know could benefit from working with a Stephen Minister, please contact Pastor Barb Smisek, 402-476-7565 or

7th Annual Abendmusik Children’s Choir Festival

Children (3rd-5th grade) are invited to sing with the Omaha Children’s Choir and Nebraska Academy of Vocal Arts on Feb. 11, led by guest conductor, Karol Kimmell, All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Atlanta, GA. $10 registration (scholarships available). Rehearsals start Jan. 11, 5:45-6:40pm at First-Plymouth. Register at or email

Nordic Choir from Luther College

February 3, 7:30pm. Internationally acclaimed as a premier collegiate choral ensemble in the United States. Tickets for sale at orcall 402.476.9933.

My Funny Valentine:An Abendmusik Fundraiser 

February 14, Dinner 6:30pm & Concert 8:00pm. Tom Trenney serenades from the piano, singing a collection of love songs (Irving Berlin, the Gershwins, Cole Porter, and more). Tickets for saleJan. 29 or call 402.476.9933. $50 Dinner and Concert; $25 Concert ONLY.

Exploitation of the Poor

Thurs. January 26, 7:00pm, Mayflower Hall.  Sponsored by the Peace & Justice Team.
Lea Wroblewski, manager of the Access to Justice Clinic at Legal Aid of Nebraska, will be speaking on a wide range of topics concerning exploitation of the poor. Her 20 years of experience have well-equipped Ms. Wroblewski to talk about areas of exploitation, often systemic of low income Nebraskans. This exploitation is often exacerbated by the absence of legal counsel. She will conclude with an interactive conversation about how we as a community can respond to issues of exploitation.

Legal Aid provides free civil legal services to low income Nebraskans who cannot afford an attorney.

New! Chronic Illness Support Group

1st & 3rd Sundays starting Jan. 15, 1:30-2:30pm, room 207W. Safe and confidential place to talk about challenges, roadblocks, relationship difficulties and more. Led by Karen Clarke, Open to all!

New! Pet Loss Support

Thursdays, February 2 -March 2, 6:30-8:00pm. Support for those who have recently lost a pet or are unable to move beyond losing a pet. Led by Karen Clarke, Open to all.


Contact Pastor Hollie Schmidt, or call 402-476-7565

WNL  Begins January 4!

Pajama Day for Kids, Jan 1
Preschoolers and K-5th graders wear your pajamas to church! Special New Year’s Celebrations at both 9am & 10:30am services. 

High School Youth Group, Jan 8, 15 & 22
Learning about world religions! Guest speakers and visits to local mosques, temples, and more.

Kids Against Hunger, Jan 8, 2-4pm
4th & 5th graders will be packaging meals for Kids Against Hunger. The proceeds from the Pancake Breakfast help pay for these meals that will feed kids around the world.

Ski Trip, Jan 16
Register by January 1 for the winter’s ski trip for youth and families. Minimum of 20 participants.  

FP Family Night, Jan 20, 6-8pm

Super Bowl of Caring, Feb 5
Our youth will be collecting money following all services, for our monthly outreach to Matt Talbot, paying for the food we prepare and serve to our community. 

Adult Fellowship Groups

Get connected…join a group. All Adult fellowship groups have e-newsletters. To be added to a specialized list, email

Peace & Justice Coffee and Conversation
Jan 7, Feb 4, 9-10am, Meadowlark Coffee (17th & South).

Church Social
Meet others who attend First-Plymouth! January 27, 6:30-9:30pm. Hosts: Terry and Judy Dougherty. RSVP for directions to: 402/483-1777 &

Widow-to-Widow Support and Friendship
Support one another in this new phase of our lives. Call Phyllis Arth:  402-417-9810

First-Plymouth Presents

Exploring the big questions about life, love, and soul
Sermon • Live Music • Cash Bar

Join us for live music, food, and drinks in the basement of the Haymarket Brewsky’s
(201 N. 8th).  This is a great way to hear Patrick or Jim’s message from the morning if you missed it, to grab a friend and a beverage, and go more in-depth in a fun, relaxed atmosphere.
First-Plymouth Presents is held every Sunday at 7pm except for the second Sundays when we will return to 20th & D for our meditative Compline service.

Live Inspired.  Give Inspired.

We are nearing our pledge goal of $1.7 million with $300,000 yet to go.  If you have not made a pledge, please consider doing so now.  A pledge is simply an estimate of what you plan to give to church in the coming year. 

Visit online at to complete an easy online pledge form. Or shoot an email to or call (402-476-7565 ext. 211) to let us know your giving intentions for 2017. 

Every gift, regardless of size, is celebrated and drives all of ministries and programs.  We ask you to consider a slight increase in your giving to help move our mission forward as we look to celebrate another record year in worship attendance. First-Plymouth’s spirt of love and inclusivity is on fire! 

Our Board of Trustees and Church Council have passed a draft budget that includes this $1.7 in projected pledge income. Members of First-Plymouth will vote on this budget at the Annual Meeting January 15.  

One change in the budget is support of $25,000 that will go to the Lincoln Food Bank’s Backpack program as part of our outreach to the community. (Total Christian outreach budget is currently $169,660). In previous years, separate fund-raising specifically for the Backpack Program netted about this amount.  This program has a long tradition of support from our church, therefore, it was decided to lift them up and roll them into the budget so that they could plan and count on that support. It means one less fund raising appeal you will receive this coming year if we can meet projected income.

Contact Shelly for any questions about the budget or pledging process.