United Church of Christ


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Table of Contents
Minutes of January 24, 2016 Annual Meeting
Nominating Committee

Staff Reports
Senior Minister (Rev. Jim Keck)
Associate Minister (Rev. Barb Smisek)
Associate Minister (Rev. Nancy Erickson)
Minister of Children, Youth and Families (Rev. Hollie Schmidt)
Minister of Music (Tom Trenney)
Minister of Spiritual Direction (Rev. Kathryn Campbell)
Minister of Visitation (George J. Wolcott)
Dimensions Early Education Program

Board Reports
Board of Christian Outreach
Board for Women’s Ministries
Diaconate Board
Board of Trustees
Church Council
Music and Fine Arts Board
Abendmusik: Lincoln

Miscellaneous Reports
Clerk’s Report

Order of Business

1. Call to Order

2. In Memoriam

3. Approval of Minutes of Last Annual Meeting

4. Questions about Annual Report

5. Comments from Moderator

6. Comments from Senior Minister

7. New Business

a. Adoption of Budget for 2017
b. Report of Nominating Committee and Elections

8. Other Business

9. Adjournment

10. Benediction


January 24, 2016

The meeting began at 9:47 a.m. with Senior Minister Jim Keck remembering our brothers and sisters who have died in 2015.  Associate Minister Barb Smisek and Associate Minister Nancy Erickson read the names of those who have died in 2015 and lit a candle for each person. Associate Minister Nancy Erickson said a prayer.

Moderator Kimberly Walker welcomed everyone to the meeting and called the annual meeting to order. There were approximately eighty people in attendance.

The minutes of the last annual meeting were approved by voice vote without objection after a motion and second from the congregation. The annual report is available online and copies of the budget were made available.

Moderator Walker talked about the budget and the budget discussions. She introduced the Treasurer of First-Plymouth, Jenni Lesoing-Lucs.  Senior Minister Keck talked about the budget. He said we have increased the budget by $170,000.  A motion was made to approve the budget as circulated. The motion passed with a voice vote with no dissent.  

The next order of business was changes to the bylaws.  Moderator Walker said there were changes made regarding membership and changes made regarding language. There was also a change made to increase the number of Deacons needed. A motion was made and seconded to approve the changes to the bylaws as presented and the motion passed by voice vote with no dissent. 

Moderator Walker said this is her last act as Moderator. We are celebrating 150 years as a church this year.  Moderator Walker thanked Lowell Berg for his commitment to the reconstruction of the church building. Senior Minister Keck thanked Moderator Walker for her leadership the past year. 

Moderator Walker presented the Nominating Slate. A motion was made and seconded to approve the slate as presented and the motion passed by voice vote with no dissent. Moderator Walker asked the retiring members of Boards to stand and then asked for ascending members to also stand and be recognized. Moderator Walker thanked them all for their service.

Senior Minister Keck introduced Jim Lauerman as the incoming Moderator. Jim said it has been quite a year and thanked both Senior Minister Keck and Moderator Walker. He is looking forward to next year. Senior Minister Keck said of the top ten UCC churches in the United States one is growing. We set a record in church attendance this year. He said we have a talented team in place. He asked us all to turn in our pledge cards. He also asked each member to write an additional check for $150.00 to celebrate our anniversary.   

Moderator Jim Lauerman accepted a motion to adjourn and the annual meeting was adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,

Nancy Shelley, Clerk

Nominating Committee

Moderator- Jim Lauerman
Clerk- Judy Greenwald                                            
Treasurer- Jenni Lesoing-Lucs
Council at Large- Kristin Ness (2020)
Council at Large- Jenni Lesoing Lucs (2018)
ouncil at Large- Lowell Nickolaus (2019)

Board for Children, Youth & Family Ministry
*Anne Andrew 2020
*Peggy Hart 2020
*Jody Schmidt 2020
*Sherri Ernst 2020
*Ron Souliere 2020
*Susan Crotteau 2020
*Karen Bratton  2020
Jason Hellmuth 2019
Jake Malone 2019
Mandy Coyle 2019
Katie Taddeucci 2019
Holly Matzen 2019
Chris Cary 2019
Scott Miller 2019
Diane Steinke 2019
Rebecca McCoy 2019
Kathleen Maynard 2019
Jessica Anderson-Anschutz 2018
Jon Carlson 2018
Trish Souliere 2018
Cheseney Johnson 2018

Diaconate Board – Women
*Deb Navratil 2020
*Pat Genzmer 2020
*Susan Kruescher Simon 2020
*Jana Langemach 2020
*Joyce Sturdy 2020
*Dorothy Anderson
Jaci Hammer 2020
Ann Kittell 2020
Maril Freese 2019
Arlene VanHorn 2019
Dee Weyeneth 2019
Sharon Rudeen 2019
Jean Keister 2019
Katie Keister 2019
Pat Boon 2019
Marynelle Greene 2018
Ellen Beans 2018
Mary Ann Erickson 2018
Barb H. Johnson 2018
Marilyn Larson 2018
Leslie Levy 2018
Risa Udell 2018

Diaconate Board – Men
*Doug Navratil 2020
*Russ Genzmer 2020
*Ralph Sturdy 2020
*Dan Leuenberger 2020
*Bruce Rudeen 2020
*Ed Schulenberg 2020
Gordon Freese 2019
Andy VanHorn 2019
Denny VanHorn 2019
Jack Davis 2019
Mike High 2019
Bob Meier 2019
Bob Shaw 2019
Ben Wright 2019
Tim Knott 2019
Pat Beans 2018
John Danley 2018
Bill Etmund 2018
Barry Gourley 2018
Eric Hunt 2018
Bruce Johnson 2018
Terry Maynard 2018

Board for Women’s Ministries
*Nancy Howard 2020
*Janie Rowan 2020
*Susan Simon 2020
*Darla Wanitschke 2020
*Karen Clarke 2020
*Nella Maynard (youth) 2020
*Baylor Pope (youth) 2020
Jane Holt 2019
Charlotte Frank 2019
Allison Goering 2019
Rose Mackey 2019
Kelly Tyrrell 2019
Carole Curry 2019
Sheila Mehlhaff 2019
Kathryn Bellman 2018
Candy Campbell 2018
Bobbi Jensen 2018
Nancy Larimer 2018
Christi Keim 2018
Ann Lif 2018
Mary Metzger 2018

Board of Music & Fine Arts
*Bob Boyce 2020
*Lynette Boyce 2020
Joan Michelsen 2019
Sinda Dux 2019
Phyllis Owen 2019
Deanne Hyde 2018
Daniel Shane 2018

Board of Trustees
*John Gerrard 2020
*Bob Bartle 2020
*Claudia Reinhardt 2020
*Shelley Zaborowski 2020
*Chris Cassiday 2020
Kevin Klein 2019
Derek Lester 2019
Kim Robak 2019
Meg Lauerman 2019
Jeff Johnson 2019
Bob Barth 2019
Ray Zeisset 2019
Fred Rickers 2018
Stephanie Dinger 2018
Jennifer Brinkman 2018
Tom Henning 2018
Lynn Jones 2018
Rich Rodenburg 2018

Board of Christian Outreach
*Faith Andrews 2020
*Taylor Andrews (youth) 2020
*Peter Barber 2020
*Beth Hartman 2020
*Judy Magnuson 2020
*Kristin Ness 2020
*Mark Schultz 2020
*Ron Ramsey 2020
Ann Ramsey 2019
John Wilson 2019
Randy Clements 2019
Judy Greenwald 2019
Adrien Loehring 2019
Wynn Mehlhaff 2019
Connie Stentz 2019
Mason Keim 2019
Giselle Orellana 2019
Cami Burchett 2018
Carole Burt 2018
Rebecca McCoy 2018
Julie Fischer 2018
Nancy Loftis 2018
Troy Stentz 2018

*To be elected

Rev. Jim Keck

“We strive to be rooted but not stuck." This is one of our guiding principles at First- Plymouth as we seek to be an authentic expression of historic Christianity while displaying an eagerness for experimentation and innovation. In all areas of our church life -worship, pastoral care, education and service to the community - 2016 was another year of creative change with fidelity to our tradition. 

At times I am amazed by this congregation’s creativity and willingness to try new things. In one single year, we invited a Muslim woman to read from the Quran during worship, confronted white privilege through classes and small groups, increased our social media presence, developed new communications strategies, discovered a preacher from another denomination and another part of the country to be our next minister, brought in a guest scholar as a resident theologian, created many new children and youth opportunities, and just generally continued to evolve and experiment in all areas of the church.

So many churches are afraid of change, but at FP we are afraid NOT to change because we realize the greatest risk we face is not adapting to a changing environment. I thank God for a congregation that is so creative and experimental.

The lay leaders of this church are the key. We have an incredible amount of skilled leaders who seek to follow Jesus Christ, make the world better and have a lot of fun along the way! I thank God for them every day.

I am also thankful for our ministers and staff team. Wildly hard working, proudly committed, enduringly lighthearted, exceedingly bright and insightful and utterly, utterly devoted, they are a team that makes my heart sing, and helps this congregation achieve its mission.

And so here we are once again having set an all-time record for worship attendance, giving and participation in mission. Very few churches can say their 150th year was the best one so far, but I am praying that 151 is even better!

Thank you for this beloved community.

Rev. Barb Smisek

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5,6

Proverbs 3:5,6 was my mantra in 2016. During the last six months of the year, the “straight path” I made was to Kloefkorn Elementary School on Sunday mornings.  With Pastor Jacob’s departure in July, I was given the opportunity to shepherd the congregation at First-Plymouth East. Though I sorely missed the people and worship at 20th & D, it was wonderful to minister with and experience the Spirit moving in the good people at East. I especially appreciated the friendly atmosphere, variety of music, weekly Communion and opportunity to incorporate a Children’s Moment in worship. I am grateful for the time I had there and am excited for the ways the church will continue to grow under the leadership of Rev. Patrick Messer. First-Plymouth is blessed to have yet another talented, young minister join the team!

While my Sunday mornings were spent mostly at First-Plymouth East, Saturday nights were in Mayflower Hall helping lead Anybody Everybody worship. This interactive, intergenerational service for folks with developmental disabilities is a meaningful blend of multi-media worship and multi-sensory activities.  A big thanks goes to Cheri Bayley, director; Sinda Dux, pianist; Gordon Freese, treasurer; our many cookie bakers; and faithful allies.  

Other highlights of 2016 for me were:

•    Renewal of Vows Service in February
•    Fish, Fries & Bingo (Mission fundraiser)
•    Stephen Ministry Small Group Facilitator Retreat
•    Vacation Bible School (being the Storyteller)
•    Youth Mission Trip to Pine Ridge

Lastly, I want to thank all those who gave and continue to give so generously of their time, resources and talents to ‘minister’ to those among us who are hurting. First-Plymouth is blessed with 30 Stephen Ministers that not only meet with care receivers for an hour every week, but also meet once a month for continuing education and supervision.  Thanks to our licensed ministers:  George Wolcott, Karen Clarke, Jeanne Johnson and Jennifer Davidson for the many ways they help serve and care for the congregation. Finally, thanks to the Pastoral Care Team of Joe Adams, Kathryn Campbell, George Wolcott, Lois Dam, Rick Vest, Jerry Harrenstein, Jeanne Johnson, and Fred Rickers who make weekly visits to the hospitals, homes, and care facilities. 

Proverbs 3:5,6 has long been a “go to” scripture for me.  Because life is always changing, we have to trust and include God in every aspect of our lives. While I miss Pastor Jacob and am going to miss Pastor Nancy (retiring in January of 2017), I trust that with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit leading, we will continue strong on our path to increase the love of God and neighbor in 2017.   

Rev. Nancy Erickson

It is with bittersweet emotions that I write this, my final annual report as your Associate Minister. I look forward to large expanses of time without a schedule and the opportunity to pursue some personal interests. At the same time, it is hard to think about leaving such a spirit filled and incredible place such as this. My time here has been gratifying, fun, mind expanding, and hope filled. So I do not make this decision to retire lightly.

This past year I have continued to shepherd the Board for Women’s Ministry and Plymouth Pride. Both of these ministries have become dear to my heart. You can read about the work of the women’s board on the page designated for that group. Plymouth pride was ably facilitated again this year by Jennie Meier and Jen Zinnecker. I am leaving both of these groups in the capable hands of Soni Fabry. I have no doubt that they will not only maintain but will thrive and flourish under her leadership.

I cannot end this without a word of gratitude to all of you. The support and carrying I have felt from you has truly been a blessing beyond belief.  And my colleagues – what can I say?  The inspiration, the challenge, the friendship from them, has made me a better pastor and a better human being.

I leave with joy in my heart ready to let the next chapter of my life unfold.  

God is good. Yes she is!

Tom Trenney

What a blessing to serve First-Plymouth Church and to partner with the hundreds of singers and instrumentalists who contribute their time and talent to our growing music ministry. The music in our more than 250 services each year invites us to experience the mystery and wonder of our faith, gathers us together to share in the timeless message of the gospel, and transports our spirits in unforgettable ways. With the devoted leadership and support of Drew Duncan, Rebecca Shane, Brett Epperson, Christopher Boilesen, Lacey Atkinson, Jessica Rajewich, Phyllis Owen, Tom Kelly, and Kim Salistean, our music ministry strives to encourage our congregation's song—our community's joyful, passionate response to the promise of our faith.

First-Plymouth is blessed to have seven choirs and six instrumental ensembles that regularly contribute to worship: Plymouth Choir, Cantorei, Te Deum, Compline Schola Cantorum, Alleluia, Choristers, Chorale, Plymouth Ringers, "JV Ringers," Plymouth Brass, Summit Strings, Celtic Band, and Youth Orchestra.   The music ministry provides worship leadership for our four weekly services, our monthly Compline, and numerous weddings, funerals, memorial services, community events, and Holy days.

First-Plymouth's music ministry also continues to share the mission of First-Plymouth Church in the broader community.  In February 2016, our Plymouth Choir was selected as the only church choir to perform at the North Central region convention of the American Choral Directors Association. In May, the choir sang with Doane Choir in the Nebraska premiere of two works by Jake Runestad in collaboration with Lincoln's Symphony Orchestra.  Recently, the Schola Cantorum and Cantorei have received invitations to offer music in worship at the National Convention of the American Choral Directors Association to be held in Minneapolis in March 2017.  Further outreach is possible through our YouTube channel.  Recordings of our hymns and anthems from worship receive thousands of views, our music ministry offers inspiration to congregations and choirs around the world.  We are grateful to John Casey who volunteers to be the curator of our YouTube outreach.  The Plymouth Choir recently recorded a second volume of hymns for the upcoming CD, Hymns from First Plymouth to be released next spring.  The highlight of the year, though, was undoubtedly our 150th anniversary celebration weekend, including a choir reunion when all our Ministers of Music from the past 50 years were in worship together with generations of choir members.  It was an incredible experience for us all, tendering us to the timelessness of this congregation's music and mission.

Though it has been a year of transition with our beloved Associate Minister of Music, Jeremy Bankson, accepting a call to a new ministry, we continue to grow and to evolve.  Our interim staff is carrying the baton with renewed enthusiasm, commitment, and joy.  It is a blessing to be part of this special time.

I am thankful for all the joy that we have welcomed in 2016 and I look forward to the many ways our music ministry will increase the love of God and neighbor in 2017.

Rev. Hollie Schmidt

Wow!  2016 has been an amazing year for the Children, Youth and Family Ministries at F-P.  We have made changes, improvements and have grown in incredible ways.  It has been exciting to see children getting more involved, youth taking on new experiences as well as having more involvement from parents and other adults in the congregation.

From our 4th & 5th graders packaging meals at Kids Against Hunger to the multiple ways they served our church and community during Vacation Bible School, we have worked hard to incorporate missions and service into our everyday ministries to children- including preschoolers.  They are not only learning about Bible stories and their faith; they are also putting everything they learn into action.  

Our ministry to preschoolers and elementary children has continued to grow with the new curriculums we introduced this fall both here at the main location and at First-Plymouth East.  We have tried to match each class with a curriculum that will enhance their uniqueness on both Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights.  

After my first year though the confirmation process, I saw a set of challenges that I hoped to improve as we began again this fall.  Instead of individual mentors, I have set our confirmation students up in small groups that each have 3 mentors who meet with and teach them twice a month.  This small group time is in addition to the pastor’s class at the beginning of the month where I invite one of our other ministers to come in and help me teach.  This offers the youth a chance to know each of our ministers.  We moved Urban Plunge back to the fall in an effort to create the group bonding earlier in the process and it proved to be a huge success.  

One of the biggest changes in 2016 was to our youth group.  We now have a Middle School Youth Group that meets on Wednesday nights and is designed to specifically meet the needs of our 6th-8th graders.  They have fun with games, discussions in small groups and continue to address the unique issues they face as they plunge into adolescence.  It’s been fun to have some new faces as youth leaders and to see the relationships that both Ella and Dylan are creating with these teenagers.  We also took our first MSYG Mission Trip to Des Moines in July.  It was a weekend of serving, bonding and a lot of fun!  We look forward to another one in 2017.

The addition of a High School Youth Group on Sunday nights has been such a huge success.  These high school youth love having their own time and space so they can talk about high school issues, deeper faith issues and of course go out and serve our community in unique ways.  We took several high schoolers to Pine Ridge Reservation over the summer for our mission trip and have about 14 committed to going to Guatemala in June 2017.  Our goals for 2017 include a lot more experience opportunities for the high school youth to learn about missions, world religions and other pressing issues facing the church and community.  

The biggest and most successful new ministry in 2016 was our musical theatre production.  We had 17 youth as our cast of our first ever musical.  It was a murder mystery and we performed it at our dinner theatre where we had another 15 youth serving the 150 people who purchased tickets to the event.  It was a huge success as a fundraiser for Guatemala, but beyond that it was a huge success as a ministry to so many talented youth.  We look forward to doing another one in 2017.

With all of the amazing things that happened in 2016, I cannot help but look forward to the possibilities 2017 will bring for the Children, Youth and Families of First-Plymouth. What an amazing congregation I am privileged to serve!

Rev. Kathryn Campbell

Now you can go to; click on Get Involved; click on Spiritual Direction to learn more about this ministry.  Many thanks to the communications people at F-P for making this happen.

Saying out loud, to a caring, non-judging listener, what’s going on in your life can give you a new perspective - even a solution or the next step.  Gentle questions from the Spiritual Director may help, too.  This is the essence of Spiritual Direction.
A good number of men and women from the church and from the community come each month to talk with me or with Jeanne Johnson, also a trained Spiritual Director. Some come once to talk about a particular situation.  Some come on a regular basis as part of developing a deeper spiritual life.

I have continued to make regular hospital calls, take part in leading worship and done an occasional wedding or funeral.  All of these are sources of great joy. I am continually grateful to be here, doing this ministry.

George J. Wolcott

The role of the Minister of Visitation is to call upon members of First-Plymouth Congregational Church.  Included in these visits are: family members of F-P that are without a church home in Lincoln, individuals that are in our "extended congregation" due to Reach Out and Live, occasional visitor who has adopted us, and the amazing number who just want F-P to visit them.  They may be in the hospital (a decreasing number), rehabilitation units, Sub acute care, long term care, hospice or just at their home.  We bring them news of the Church, and activities, and spend some time together. We work to bring some of God's love and light, and make sure they feel some connection with First-Plymouth.

A secondary role has been to function as a liturgist at the worship services, and assist with the communion in the chapel.

As this was my last year as Minister of Visitation, several observations can be made. As the total number of visits continues to decline, the need for a Minister of Visitation may not be necessary. Have visits through the Visitation Committee with a staff minister "in charge".  The usefulness of the Minister of Visitation is also impacted by: the rapidly changing medical environment in Lincoln, the enforcement of the HIPPA(Health Information Patient Protection Act) rules, increasing number of specialty (short term) hospitals in Lincoln and Omaha, an assigned chaplain in most long term units and senior residencies, decline in senior members interest, all mixed with the agnosticism that appears to increase with aging. 

Nonetheless, we hope and pray that my tour of duty for F-P was a worthy one.

Michelle Zimmer, Program Director and Nancy Rosenow, Executive Director

Dimensions strives to serve families from all socio-economic groups and religious backgrounds, as well as children with special needs, helping all to accept and appreciate differences and develop a life-long love for learning. Again this year, over 400 children ages 6 weeks through 2nd grade have taken part in our school year and summer programs. Children, staff, and families have engaged, discovered, learned and grown together.

Through our Sponsor-a-Child program we serve low-income families with high quality childcare allowing parents to work or continue their own education. We are committed to serving as many families as possible, regardless of their financial situation therefore we have two giving campaigns a year and three fundraising events. We offer flexible scheduling and extended hours making childcare more affordable for families.

There are many ways in which Dimensions strives to connect and engage with the families and children in our program and also the greater community. Our commitment to quality, with staffing and programming gives us the opportunity to be a leader in the Early Education field. We mentor future teachers from surrounding colleges and invite area child care providers to our professional development trainings. We also provide tours for individuals and groups striving to enhance the quality of their schools and education programs.

Dimensions Education Programs which is a part of Dimensions Educational Research Foundation, has a continued commitment to ongoing research by serving as the primary research site. Through each teacher engaging in action research and working collaboratively with colleagues we maintain dynamic, cutting-edge learning environments. We partner on research projects with programs in California, Illinois, and Wisconsin. New this year, we are collaborating with Dr. Kumara Ward, a Lecturer of Early Childhood Curriculum and Pedagogy at Western Sydney University in Australia.

Nature Explore, which is a collaborative program of Dimensions and Arbor Day Foundations shares its mission to connect people with nature throughout the country and internationally. The Nature Explore program brings opportunities and notoriety to our Education Programs and First-Plymouth Church.

As part of the First-Plymouth church community we share space and materials in this beautiful building. Dimensions continues to staff the Welcome Desk by the church’s west doors, answering the church phones and receiving all visitors from 8:00-5:30 Monday-Friday. Our staff enjoys connecting with the church community in this way.

Finally, a heartfelt thank you to all of the staff and members of First-Plymouth Church, as well as the teachers, administrative staff, families and community organizations for the help, support and commitment to our programs.

Miranda Orellana, Chair

The Board of Christian Outreach strives to meet the needs within our community and beyond with donations of service, financial contributions, and material contributions. This year we contributed to several new organizations as well as continued our support of returning needs. We are proud of what we were able to accomplish and are already making plans to move forward in an effort to support the growing number of needs within our community and beyond. 

The Board of Christian Outreach continues to play a vital role in assisting with the immigration and resettlement of new families. This year we were able to assist both the Bmaki family and the Kanza family in settling into their new homes and acclimating to life in Lincoln. 

Mission work is a top priority for the Board of Christian Outreach. This year, we held a Fish & Fries and BINGO night to help raise money for our work. The event was a great success with many families enjoying the fun of BINGO. This year we also had the opportunity to partner with the youth group in hosting a small auction at the intermission of their fall musical. Our hard work in raising funds helped to support several trips to Guatemala and Pine Ridge.

Service is another priority for the Board of Christian Outreach. This year we continued to support our neighbors at the Gathering Place by providing a hot dinner that is always well-received and much appreciated. The Board of Christian Outreach also led two Habitat for Humanity builds this year that included raising walls and hanging drywall. We continue to have a close bond with the Lighthouse in Lincoln and provided an end of the year bbq as well as a Thanksgiving dinner for the families. 

In addition to providing annual financial contributions to several organizations, we also collected donations throughout the year to support ongoing needs within the community. We held two food drives and two giving trees-with collections being donated to the Food Bank of Lincoln, Cedars Home for Children, the Capital Humane Society, Clinic with a Heart, Congolese families at First-Plymouth, the People’s City Mission, Interfaith Housing Coalition, Friendship Home, Center for People in Need, and the Diaconate fund. 

This year we were also able to give support to several people and organizations that came forward with specific requests. The requests that we heard from included financial support for a football camp on the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Reservations, revitalization of the Near South Neighborhood parks, sponsorship of a grade level at Prescott Elementary for their annual Walkathon, support for the Center for Legal Immigration Assistance, a community action partnership with Headstart, and mission work in Zambia. 

The Board of Christian Outreach also continues to lead support of the TeamMates mentoring program, the Backpack Program, and Meals on Wheels within First-Plymouth. 

2016 was a very successful year for the Board of Christian Outreach. We were able to surpass our initial goals of the year and look forward to providing even more service and contributions in 2017. Thank you for your support.  

Kathryn Bellman, Chair

The Board for Women’s Ministries reaches out to women both within the church and in the greater community. This year the Board supported a number of activities and projects.

  • In February, the Board sponsored a Soup Supper for about 70 with guest speaker Monica Zinke, from Fresh Start.
  • In June, the Board sponsored a Salad Supper for about the same number as above, with guest speaker Dr. Abla Hassan.
  • Members of the Board collected personal care items, and prepared gift bags for the young women staying at the WICS home.
  • In April, the Spring Retreat was held at the church for about 30 women, “Overlooked Women of the Bible: Claiming Our Legacy of Strength.”
  • In May, the Board hosted a very successful Mother-Daughter brunch.
  • In the fall, the Board held a retreat at the Benedictine Center in Schuyler for about 25 women, “Cultivating Sacred Spaces.”
  • Also this fall, the Board hosted an event at The Stem Gallery, which was well received.
  • Throughout the year, the Loaves and Fishes project provides meals to families under stress due to illness or other crises, through the generosity of Board members and a crew of dedicated volunteers.
  • The Scholarship Committee was able to award scholarships to a number of nontraditional women students.

As the Board moves into 2017, we hope to continue projects we have offered in the past, and explore new ways to serve women and by extension the First Plymouth Community. At many of the events we sponsor, freewill donations for scholarships are accepted, and they help increase the number of scholarships we can award to deserving applicants.

The members of the Board want to offer our deeply heartfelt gratitude to Pastor Nancy Erickson, whose energy and caring leadership have enriched the Board for Women’s Ministries, and who retires this year. She has been a wonderful guide and friend for so many!

Thanks be to God.

Jean Keister, Chair

In January 2016 twelve new members joined the F-P Diaconate Board and seven completed their terms.

On February 10th, Ash Wednesday began our six week walk through Lent.Every Wednesday through Lent the youth helped us in serving communion. They took such a serious approach and proved themselves as potential deacons. Holy Week found us busy assisting our ministers from Palm Sunday to Maundy Thursday to Good Friday to Holy Saturday to our many well attended services on Easter Sunday. We concluded Lent by delivering almost three dozen lilies to our shut-ins across the city. It offers us a time to visit and minister to those who are not able to attend church.  

We served full communion nearly twelve times during the year and served weekly chapel
Communion for each of our five weekend services throughout the year.

We suggested to the Trustees and were given the okay to purchase and AED which is to be installed in early 2017.

We assisted with the extra services throughout the year---Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Dr. Hilton,
Dr. Hassan, 150th Anniversary of F-P and the Annual UCC Conference which our church hosted this year.

We are taking a diligent effort in our Sustainable Living Ministry recycling program.

In July, we as a Diaconate Board, attended F-P Presents at Brewsky's in lieu of our annual
summer potluck. It also happened to be the week before Pastor Jacob left for California.

We assisted with the Deaf-Service and we continue to assist and grow with F-P East services.

In January 2017, we are seeing five deacons leaving the board as their terms end and
welcoming eight new members.

We are excited to assist our new minister, Patrick Messer, in any way we can to make
his transition to F-P smooth.

We are looking forward to our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day duties coming quickly.

I would like to thank the board for all their hard work and eagerness to always step
up and do their jobs, which made my job as Diaconate Chair such an enjoyable experience.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve F-P in this capacity.

Stephanie Dinger, Chair

What an exciting year to be a part of First-Plymouth as we celebrate 150 years. There are so many wonderful things to reflect on over these years and many more exciting things we look forward to accomplishing in the next 150 years. The First-Plymouth Board of Trustees had another busy year in the oversight and management of First-Plymouth finances and assets.

We are nearing the end of the Building Joy First campaign, the Church facility renovation and improvement project. Lowell Berg provided the following update: 

The construction phase is complete with the exception of the following two items: 1) repair and replacement of the exterior stone window sills at the eight large sanctuary side windows and 2) replacement of the 1994 Addition heating, ventilating and air conditioning control system.  The window sill effort is underway, and the controls project will start early in 2017.  Both endeavors should be completed in the first quarter of 2017. We are pleased to report that we will complete all work within budget. 

The trustees are thankful for the leadership of Lowell Berg, Lynn Jones and Wynn Mehlhaff in our renovation work.

The Board’s Endowment Funds Committee met multiple times to review First Plymouth’s investment funds, provide oversight and make recommendations to the Board of Trustees regarding investment performance and spending. Our investments are held at the Lincoln Community Foundation and we worked with them to obtain a more competitive rate, which will provide a larger return on our assets. 

A Jim Keck Honorary Fund was created to provide financial assistance to members of the Church family who are experiencing financial hardships. A subcommittee will be established to review and make decisions on how and to whom the funds will be distributed.  

Bob Campbell and Shelly Wachman continue to provide leadership with the annual pledge campaign. Their efforts resulted in an increase in donations to support the financial needs of growing programs and ministries. The 2017 campaign kicked off in November with a theme of “Live Inspired. Give Inspired.” Members now have the option to make their pledge online. 

Meg Lauerman is leading the important task of updating our media equipment and has been diligently working on details ranging from contracts, equipment, negotiations, to installation. The Board approved the request to work with Alpha Video and installation will begin in March 2017 which will allow for live streaming and HD quality picture. The equipment will be paid for with funds from Tammy Alvis’s unrestricted bequest. 

The Board adopted a proposed budget covering Church operations and programs and recommended it for approval by the membership at its annual meeting. The Board of Trustees looks forward to what lies ahead in 2017, and doing their part to increase the love of God and neighbor. 

Jim Lauerman, Moderator

Chances are you’ve heard it. You’ve probably said it.  “First-Plymouth Church is something special.”  First time visitors express the idea.   Long time congregation members make the same comment. The positive, inspiring and thought-provoking sermons, the uplifting music and the amazing inclusiveness, and you, as a member of the congregation, make this place special.  
This past year’s tally is extraordinary; our 150th anniversary celebration; a record number attending our services. Our congregation is the largest it’s ever been.

Under the leadership of Jim Keck and the First-Plymouth team, take a minute to reflect on how easy it is to be part of this wonderful church.

First-Plymouth East at Kloefkorn School provides a casual, authentic and joyful worship experience for all ages. Unique is the opportunity for Bible learning time for children. Saturday 5:30pm, Sunday at 9:00am, 10:30am and 11:59am each offer something unique and draw people in.  

Compline, once a month, on Sunday evenings leaves everyone who attends spiritually changed.

Anybody Everybody services welcome persons with disabilities and their advocates to First-Plymouth.

And where can you grab a beer, a burger and a big idea to chew on for the rest of the week?  First Plymouth Presents at Brewsky’s Sunday evenings has allowed us to take our message of inclusivity outside our church walls.

Daniel Shane, Chair

The Music and Fine Arts Board was blessed with many opportunities to support the active and growing First-Plymouth Music Ministry during 2016.

In October, the board was honored to welcome back all of the past and present members of the First-Plymouth Choir during the 150th Anniversary Celebration of First-Plymouth Church. The celebration included a banquet honoring the Music Ministers who have served First-Plymouth, recognition of Jim Carr, and his 50 years of dedication to the music ministry of our church and a beautiful day of worship featuring the reunion choir.
The First-Plymouth Choir is unlike any other in our region and, also in October, began the recording process for their next CD release, the 2nd Hymns from First-Plymouth. The board members are always proud to provide opportunities for church attendees to purchase and celebrate the artistry of the First-Plymouth Choir and will again when the newest recording is available in 2017.

In November, the board reignited the tradition of providing Christmas ornaments that reflect the history and traditions of First-Plymouth Church. This year’s ornament was based on the Rose Window. The Rose Window was created as a memorial gift in 1930 by David G. Wing in memory of his mother. The ornament featured a replica of the center of the window, a chalice superimposed on a shock of wheat that is made up of smaller, tied bundles. The chalice and wheat are symbolic of Holy Communion.

This past December members of the board continued our tradition of making First-Plymouth a wonderful place to experience the Christmas season. Members of the board spent an evening decorating the halls, chapel, common rooms and sanctuary.

During the upcoming year, the Board of Music and Fine Arts will continue to look for more ways to support and show appreciation for all of the wonderful musicians and artists who make up our seven choral and four instrumental ensembles. Most notably the board hopes to find opportunities to support the choir as they travel to Minnesota in February as featured guests of the American Choral Directors Association.

As always, the dedicated and talented Music Ministry staff has continued the long standing First-Plymouth tradition of providing opportunities for people of all ages to participate in leading worship. It is their commitment that helps ensure that the worshiping at First-Plymouth is a joyful, powerful, and spiritual experience.

Sally Buchholz, Chair

2016 was a year of significant change for Abendmusik: Lincoln. The most significant change was the loss of our executive director, Jeremy Bankson, who became director of music at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Dublin, Ohio, in July. Jeremy had shared his musical and organizational talents with the Abendmusik series since 2007, and we are very grateful for his dedication and leadership. The Abendmusik board of directors partnered with Tom Trenney and the First-Plymouth Music Program to reimagine Jeremy’s role and welcomed Drew Duncan as Abendmusik’s interim executive director.

At the same time as the transition to a new executive director, Abendmusik also invested in a new constituent management system, PatronManager. The program will support and enhance all of our administrative activities, including ticketing, communications, and donor relations. We applaud Drew for taking on the implementation of this new system along with the challenges of his new position.

The 2016 half of the 2015-16 Abendmusik season featured three remarkable choirs and multiple premieres. The South Dakota Chorale made their Lincoln debut and premiered two lost masses by composer Marcel Tyberg who was killed at Auschwitz during the Holocaust. The beloved St. Olaf Choir returned to the Abendmusik series for an encore performance in January. In April, the Lincoln Symphony presented “First-Plymouth Pipes” in collaboration with the Abendmusik Chorus, the Doane Choir, and Abendmusik’s artistic director Tom Trenney on the Lied Organ. The concert also included the premiere of composer Jake Runestad’s Gaelic Prayer. The internationally acclaimed Wartburg Choir concluded the season with a beautiful concert featuring the premiere of Living Water, a newly commissioned work composed by Tom Trenney.

Between seasons, we held our annual summer sing, Elijah, and this year we added a second sing in Omaha to reach new audiences with the Abendmusik experience. 

The 2016-17 season, “Encores of Excellence,” featured the return of many Abendmusik favorites, including Australian organist Thomas Heywood, the delightful American Boychoir, and one of Lincoln’s best holiday traditions: our trio of holiday concerts. This year, Abendmusik’s newly appointed chamber choir in residence, sounding light, performed Handel’s Messiah and Dixit Dominus, the Abendmusik Chorus and Orchestra performed their inspiring Christmas concerts on the theme “O Come Let Us Adore Him,” and the Plymouth Brass concluded the year with their traditional “Last Blast”.

We are grateful to everyone who makes the Abendmusik series possible, including Tom Trenney, Jeremy Bankson, Drew Duncan, administrative director Rebecca Shane, the members of the Abendmusik board of directors, and the staff and leadership of First-Plymouth Church. Congratulations on your 150th anniversary! We are also very grateful to all of our patrons, advertisers, sponsors and donors, and to all those who opened their homes to visiting choir members. Thank you for being part of the Abendmusik family. 

Clerk’s Report

January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016

Members enrolled as of December 31, 2015:  3,715
Members enrolled as of December 31, 2016:  3,764

By Death: 33                    
Transfer/Inactive: 72            

Confirmation class: 21 (included in New Members)
New Members: 154

Baptisms: 78                

Weddings: 35

Janaree Nore 01/11/2016
Robert Brehm 02/11/2016
Gloria Devoe 03/12/2016
Dorothy Beck 03/11/2016
Richard Spellman 03/27/2016
Roy Mehmken 04/01/2016
Tom Ernst 04/01/2016
Wanda Stubbendick 05/09/2016
Harold Lauer 05/24/2016
Eleanor Black 04/04/2016
Margaret Ann Irvine 06/08/2016
James Seacrest 06/02/2016
JoAnn Mortensen 06/27/2016
Peg Beranek 07/12/2016
Buford Jones 07/26/2016
Dorothy Kaser 07/25/2016
Joyce Hecht 08/11/2016
Ruby O'Mara 08/15/2016
John Tidball, III 08/08/2016
Rochelle Nelson 08/17/2016
Carroll Sawin 08/20/2016
Alan Rosse 09/04/2016
April Sampson 09/07/2016
Duane Acklie 09/17/2016
Richard Parker 09/17/2016
Shirley Herres 09/20/2016
Mary Commers 09/20/216
Sue Keller 09/24/2016
Joan Peterson 10/24/2016
Marge Stentz 11/15/2016
Marilee Johnson 11/23/2016
Alexander Knaub 12/18/2016
Dorothy Thompson 12/28/2016