March 26, 2012 – Minneapolis, MN – From the steps of Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis, on Sunday church leaders announced a number of ambitious goals the congregation is committing to in the effort to defeat the proposed constitutional ban on marriage for same-sex couples in Minnesota.
“Plymouth Church is dedicated to obtaining 1,000 ‘vote no’ pledges from our membership, as well as having 10,000 conversations with our families and friends about the importance of voting no,” said Rev. Dr. James Gertmenian, Senior Minister at Plymouth Congregational Church. “The work of God is not done inside the walls of the church, but is done outside of the walls of the church. Loving, committed relationships are a gift of God; they need to be celebrated, they need to be held up, they need to be honored. We as a people – gay and straight – we need to hold up that freedom of all people to love whom they are called to love.”
Details of the church’s commitment to joining grassroots efforts to defeat the amendment are below. Members of Plymouth Congregational Church voted overwhelmingly on March 11 to officially oppose the amendment. In addition to the public stance, the congregation also shared a desire to partner with Minnesotans United for All Families to encourage voters to start a conversation about marriage and why it matters. Plymouth Church joins the Minneapolis Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Minnesota Conference of the United Church of Christ, and the group Jewish Community Action in opposing the amendment, along with dozens of other communities of faith. Religious organizations made up roughly 25 percent of Minnesotans United’s 250 coalition partners.
“We are proud to partner with Minnesotans United to oppose this hurtful amendment,” said Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Sartain, executive minister at Plymouth Congregational Church. “Our long history of recognizing loving relationships between committed gay and lesbian couples compels us to stand in opposition to the marriage amendment. We know that this amendment is an unnecessary attack on our fellow Minnesotans, and we hope that people across the state will see it the same way.”
Reverends Gertmenian and Sartain were joined on the steps of the church by nearly 100 congregation members. Leaders from other communities of faith also joined them.
“I stand here today because my faith requires me to believe out loud,” said Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, United Church of Christ minister and program director with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “I am honored to stand on the steps of this hallowed congregation who has been a leader in so many issues of love and justice in the world. But the best part of standing here today is that Plymouth Church, while providing critical leadership, is not singing a solo; but instead Plymouth is joining a mighty chorus, of literally hundreds of thousands of people of faith in Minnesota. This amendment demands us to stand together to say yes to love, yes to family, yes to all that the church has taught us – and all of that has taught us that we must say no to this hurtful amendment.”
The sentiment was shared by Rev. Grant Stevensen, Faith Director for Minnesotans United, who expressed his gratitude to Plymouth Church.
“It is encouraging to see a strong leader in the faith community take such big steps to defeat the amendment,” said Rev. Stevensen. “What I was taught in my home is what I think was taught in homes across Minnesota – it’s sometimes called the Golden Rule. Golden, because it works everywhere. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It’s simple. But important things, even though they’re hard, are often just that simple.”
The announcement concluded with a prayer and the song “One More Step.” Congregation members then entered the church to participate in the monthly Healing Minnesota service, hosted by Plymouth Congregational Church with the goal of fostering love, respect and healing in a time of division surrounding the proposed amendment. These monthly services will be held the fourth Sunday of the month until the election in November—just another portion of Plymouth’s work to defeat the amendment.
Minnesotans United for All Families is a broad coalition of organizations and community and business leaders. Faith, labor, progressive, and nonpartisan organizations, communities of color, current and former elected officials, Republicans, Democrats, Greens, Independents, and Libertarians have all joined to defeat the constitutional amendment which would limit the freedoms of Minnesotans and ban marriage for same-sex couples in Minnesota.
Plymouth Congregational Church is a community of progressive Christians whose values include diversity, liberal theology, social justice, traditional worship and the arts as integral to spiritual life.