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    • Fred Plumer
    • After an extensive background in building management, real estate development and restaurant ownership and management, Fred Plumer made a career shift in 1981. He earned his M.Div. degree at the Pacific School of Religion while doing work in an inner city community center.

      In 1984 Rev. Plumer was called to the Irvine United Congregational Church in Irvine, California to lead a UCC new start church. The church became known throughout the denomination as one of the more exciting and progressive mid-size congregations in the nation.

      Rev. Plumer served on the Board of Directors of the Southern California Conference of the United Church of Christ (UCC) for five years, and chaired the Commission for Church Development and Evangelism for three of those years. In that time the Southern California Conference put in place one of the most aggressive church development plans in its history.

      Rev. Plumer regularly gives workshops on church growth. He became a member of the Executive Council for The Center for Progressive Christianity in 1995 and has written The Study Guide for TCPC’s “eight points.” He has had several articles published on church development, building faith communities and redefining the purpose of the enlightened Christian Church.

      Always interested in the latest and best scholarship, Rev. Plumer has been involved with the Jesus Seminar since his graduate work in the early eighties.

      Rev. Plumer was the executive producer of a video and workbook on the Open and Affirming process in the UCC. This highly acclaimed video, “A Journey of Faith,” has now been used in five countries and in thousands of churches of several denominations as a teaching tool for those interested in studying the subject of the church and sexual orientation issues. In 1990 he was the recipient of ECCO’s Humanitarian Award for his work in this area. Rev. Plumer has been active in the inter-faith dialogue since his seminary years. In 1989 under his leadership the UCC church agreed to host a small group of Jews who wanted to start a Reconstructionist Synagogue. The congregations shared space, operating expenses, teaching forums, mission outreach projects, special services and meals for over 15 years. The synagogue became one of the fastest growing congregations in the nation with nearly five hundred families when they found it necessary to build their own facility. The unique relationship between the two congregations was the subject of numerous newspaper articles and radio talk shows providing Rev. Plumer many opportunities to speak of the importance of inter-religious dialogue. In 2000 with the support of the synagogue, a Mosque joined in this unique mix of religious traditions sharing space and ideas. The new relationship was covered by numerous newspapers, two talk shows and was a special feature that ran on CNN news, Christmas Eve and Christmas day.In September of 2004 Rev. Plumer retired from the Irvine church so he could devote more time to writing and his passion – reclaiming the message of Jesus.

      In January of 2006 after Jim Adams, founder of TCPC retired as President, Fred was elected as the new President.

On Sacred Communities

For the last 18 months I have interviewed or have corresponded with people who are either leading a small group or are part of a small group that meets on a regular basis for community and spiritual direction. I plan to continue to do this with more groups and in more depth. My hope is that we can gain more information from a variety of groups to see what is working and what is not. Most of the information I gained from these interviews so far comes from groups who have been meeting on a regular basis for more than a year. In a couple of cases they have been meeting for over a decade. I am certain I will be revising my thoughts on some of this but I wanted to share what I have learned so far.

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Study Guide for the 8 Points of Progressive Christianity 2012- PDF Download

The background material and the questions of this Study Guide were designed to stimulate conversation and to raise issues that might not otherwise come up. None of these materials are intended to make a final theological, Christological, or canonical argument.

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Community Making

So what do I mean by a sacred community or spiritual community, or as Peck would call it a true community? I refer here to an intentional community with an identifiable common purpose. Maybe that purpose is simple to grow spiritually as individuals. It is a community where one can transcend oneself and experience a sense of the interconnectedness of life. It is a community in which each member seeks to see and relate to the divine or the sacred in the other.

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Fred Plumer on the Christian Movement and Jesus

“The truth of the matter is that the Christian movement, or what we now call the church, was always progressive. Jesus and his followers were change agents and that frankly, is what got them all into trouble.” ~ Fred Plumer

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A New Year

Repentance

At times like this, I wish more people who identify themselves as Christians or followers of Jesus knew more about the roots of their own tradition, Judaism. The Mother religion of our tradition has a very different kind of New Year called Rosh Hashanah. Jesus, or Yeshua, was a Galilean Jew. As should be expected, his teachings are heavily influenced by his own tradition and its teachers. For Jews, Rosh Hashanah is preceded with a long period of time for introspection. It’s time for looking back at the mistakes of the past year and thinking about those whom they may have harmed. This intentional self-inspection ends with the holiest of holidays, Yom Kippur, ten days later. The time in between is referred to as the Days of Awe or Days of Repentance.

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A Mystical Christmas

Try and imagine you are a four year old child. On Christmas Eve there are still no packages, there is no Christmas tree and there are very few decorations. In those early days shortly after WWII this was not all that unusual. I have no memory of thinking it was strange. Those were tough economic times for just about everyone. We were going to my grandparent’s house to celebrate Christmas with them and I was told that Santa might leave my present there.

But when this four year old woke up, there was a beautiful tree decorated with sparkling white lights, and tinsel, so carefully strung over the branches that they could be removed just as carefully and saved for the next year. The little living room had lights and white cotton decoration that seemed to glisten. Waking up to this beautiful scene was a wonder. It was magical, and I dare say, even mystical.

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Evolving or Not

A significant number of scholars and commentators are celebrating the dying of what they believe has been and remains a detrimental institution for our society. They often point to the absence of religion in Europe. They note how those countries have aggressively built public institutions for the support of their citizens in need. In some ways, one could argue they have become more Christian in their public actions than the United States.

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Beef Jerky

I do believe one can make a case from a biblical perspective that we should all eat what grows in the ground, food that can be picked or plucked. More importantly, we know that eating more fresh vegetables, fruit and grains is a healthier way to eat. If we became more aware of what we eat, where it came from and what sacrifices were made to provide it, our eating habits would change. We also might learn to treat Mother Earth as something sacred, rather than something to be used and abused.

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Imagining a Different World

I do not believe there is such a thing as a just war anymore, if there ever was one. Our weapons are too destructive and wars are seldom about territory or borders. They cannot be decisively won. Today wars are mostly about ideology and religion. They are about culture. Certainly we have not been winners in the last three wars which we have initiated and participated in. There are far more meaningful and sophisticated ways to deal with conflict today. We could do better if we developed different attitudes and skills at conflict resolution. It would also help if our leaders knew a little more about the history and cultures of the areas in which we get involved.

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A Summer of Change

Everything changes, and that has been the case for us at PC.org this summer. We have been working full throttle for the last few months with several changes, and we hope it will show. Sometimes these changes even surprise us.

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A Changing Organization in a Changing World

Three years ago we created our first full-year children’s curriculum. It is now being used in nearly 400 churches and by 200 small faith communities and families. Raising the kind of money it took to pay writers, artists, editors, printers, and videographers in addition to the intense management requirements for such an undertaking was daunting. Now we know this was one of the most important things we could have done. More importantly we realized our children would be losing something important if they did not have the opportunity to learn about the compassionate and inclusive message of Jesus within a loving community. It was our children who would suffer without having a viable path leading to a more compassionate life and quite possibly, a more compassionate world.

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Creeds and Deeds

If creeds and statements of faith turn into prisons for an Infinite Mystery, is there a way to express our current beliefs that does not end dialogue and the ability to change as our information changes?

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The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic- A Book Review

Review by Fred Plumer

I must admit, however, that I am truly excited about recommending John Shelby Spong’s newest book, The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic. At times this book feels more like a detective novel than a scholarly work. Spong starts with his desire to figure out how the unusual book came to be, who was the author and why was it written. Like a who done it mystery, it is almost impossible not to be drawn into his investigation as he sorts through the clues.

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The Path of Aging

I had no idea, over 30 years ago, what I was getting into when I accepted an invitation by a good friend to attend something called an Enlightenment Intensive. At the time I was getting ready to move with my wife and three-year old daughter to Berkeley, California to attend Pacific School of Religion. Admittedly I was put off a bit by the rather pretentious title of the retreat. However, I decided if my wise friend thought it might be a good experience for me, it was good enough for me. It turned out to be a life changing experience.

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A Reason to Celebrate Easter

As a progressive clergy person from my first day in the pulpit, thirty years ago, I always felt that everything from Lent to Easter Sunday was the most important and exciting season for Christians. It was another opportunity to teach and even to practice the path of kenosis, to move beyond our familiar boundaries of mind and body by learning to let go and change.

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A Lenten Journey

When we look at the entire story of Jesus, including his teachings as well as his life, it seems clear his path always presumed a spiritual death before one could experience new life or rebirth. His hodos required a death to the old before there could be a birthto a new way of seeing, a new way of understanding and experiencing life.

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Q and A with the President: 2-8-13

Do You Consider Yourselves Followers of Jesus Even Though He Came for the Jews?

Do you consider yourselves as followers of Jesus even though he came for the Jews, the lost sheep of Israel, and not to the Gentile dogs?

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We Live In a Violent World

It seems to me that we live in a violent culture in a violent world that appears to be becoming more violent with time. I admit that I grew up in what was an ideal era under …

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Study Guide for the 8 Points of Progressive Christianity 2012

This Study Guide is for the third edition (2011) of the “8 Points” that have both identified and guided ProgressiveChristianity.org (formerly The Center for Progressive Christianity) since the organization’s founding in 1994.

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A Light in the Darkness

For reasons I cannot explain, I have often find myself as an adult mired in a bit of darkness during the Christmas holidays. This year has been no exception. I am a little surprised, since I have …

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Why Am I Here?

Thoughts on the Awakened World 2012 Conference

With my heart pounding away, I was asking, “And why am I here?”

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The God Thing

“So what do progressives do about the God thing?”

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Being Presence

I am writing this article at the end of a two week vacation on the lovely Hawaiian island, Maui. My wife and I have tried to plan a trip to Hawaii every year for over 25 years …

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Thank You Ross Douthat; A Discussion on Liberal Christianity

Well at least we can all agree that Ross Douthat got our attention with the article he wrote recently for the New York Times. His dire attack on the so called liberal churches has already stimulated several well written articles, with a plethora of responses to each of these.

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Progressive Christianity and the Bible

Fred Plumer, President of ProgressiveChristianity.org, provides a historical context for the formation of the sacred compilation known as the Bible.

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Progressive Christianity and Emergence

Fred Plumer, President of ProgressiveChristianity.org, gives his insight into the Emerging/Emergent Church movement from a progressive Christian perspective.

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Progressive Christianity and Prayer

Fred Plumer, President of ProgressiveChristianity.org, talks about the place of prayer within the progressive Christian movement.

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Progressive Christianity and Faith

Fred Plumer, President of ProgressiveChristianity.org, talks about the history and meaning of the term “faith” and how it relates to the progressive Christian movement.

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Progressive Christianity and God

Fred Plumer, President of ProgressiveChristianity.org, explains how God, for progressive Christians, is not explained theistically but rather is thought of as an Infinite Mystery.

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Progressive Christianity and Jesus

Fred Plumer, President of ProgressiveChristianity.org, talks about the meaning of the life of Jesus and who Jesus is for the progressive Christian movement.

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What Is Progressive Christianity?

Fred Plumer, President of ProgressiveChristianity.org, answers the question “What is progressive Christianity?”

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Oneness with Divinity

A Vacation in Provence, France

When my wife and I made plans to visit Provence, France along with two dear friends this spring, I anticipated a true vacation of rest and relaxation, good conversation, good food and lots of great wine…away from emails and phone calls. I did not plan to even think about Progressive Christianity or any Christianity for that matter. I should have known that my life does not work that way for three different and conflicting experiences changed my plans. Admittedly, I was a little ignorant of the rich and deep Christian history in the Provence area of France.

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Occupy Wall Street

There were different types of protest, some more violent than others. But the vast majority of the people were simply there to make a statement. “We are not going to let you get away with this.”

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The Magic of Christianity

Is there magic to be found in the Christmas story? Is Jesus another mythical character, like the Santa Claus of the North Pole? Do people really want to hear the truth, or do they cover their ears and profess that Santa Claus is real!

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Leaders or Obstructionist?

The question that I ask is, in this rapidly changing world, where has the church been and where will it be in the future? What we do know is that in the sixties, some clergy were in the streets, marching for civil rights but it was a small percentage. Many of them lost their churches as a result. More clergy preached about what they thought Jesus would want us to do about the Vietnam War, and their actions caused one of the largest exoduses in church history. Clergy learned that there were consequences in taking a conscientious stand. Today they are learning that lesson all over again when taking a stand for full inclusion for gays and lesbians in the life of the church. And, based on my limited survey, most of them are “tip-toeing” around the Occupiers protests. Denominations are once again being split by righteousness. 

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I Love Richard Dawkins!

I love Richard Dawkins! I never met the man, but I still love him and I am glad that he continues to get the press he seems to generate. The funny thing is that I agree with much of what he says. Yes, I realize that he has set up a “straw man” god that most people, with some minimal theological training, would simply dismiss. But the truth is this “straw man” god is still represented, prayed to, bargained with, called up, blamed or thanked in the vast majority of our churches today.

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