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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.

A Tribute to James R. Adams

TCPC President, Fred Plumer, shares his thougths and honors James R. Adams, the founder of TCPC. James passed away on September 13, 2011.

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Summer’s End Update By President Fred Plumer

We have much to be excited about here at ProgressiveChristianity.org- new staff, new projects, new website, new liturgy. Here is a summer’s end update from the President.

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Fred’s Summer Reading

I had the opportunity to do some extra reading this summer and I want to recommend three books that I found uniquely helpful and interesting.  Two of these are big picture kinds of books and the other is a more scholarly but still a relatively easy read and simply fascinating.  

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Another Story

I would like to share a little story. It is a story that has been told before but does not get told often enough. I am not certain that it happened this way but I know that it is true.

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Dandelions in the Cracks of the Sidewalks; Is there a future for the church?

In this article, Fred Plumer asks the question: with the dwindling numbers in the churches, is there a future for the church?

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What Are You Looking For?

In the resurrection story that is recorded in Luke, there is a group of women who go to the burial place of Jesus to bring spices and oil to anoint Jesus’ body. This is different than the story depicted in the book of John where only Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb or in the book of Mark where three women, Mary Magdalene, Mary, Jesus’ mother and Salome go to Jesus’ burial place.

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To Hell with Hell

Is there a Hell after this life? Does God send non-believers to burn for all eternity in Hell?

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Big Tent

A life-long progressive Christian attends an event entitled “Big Tent Christianity” and is surprisingly thrilled to dialogue with members of a novel, youthful take on traditional Christianity. In addition, Fred Plumer gives us his take on Brian McLaren, the central spokesperson for Emergent Christianity.

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A Magical Christmas

I share these familiar family stories because I wonder as we approach this Christmas “holy day,” if we have lost our ability as a society to look for, to wait for, to anticipate those magical moments in life. Have we become so materialistic, so rational, so cynical that we no longer see the magical, majestic, the mystical, the mystery?

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Join Us In Bringing a New Christianity to the World

Another year is drawing to a close!  I find myself reflecting over this past year and am proud of what we have accomplished here at The Center for Progressive Christianity.

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How Far Are We Willing to Go?

I had just walked out the gates of a Gay Pride festival when I saw the protestors. I already had suffered some of their venom as the pastor of the first UCC church to take a congregation through the Open and Affirming process in the area.

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Aren’t We All Christians?

Frequently, after a lecture or seminar, someone will ask me: “Why do you have to call it Progressive Christianity? Aren’t we all Christians?” These were usually people who seemed to be a little on edge, and sometimes even angry, but their questions were sincere and frankly, they are good ones.

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Words Do Matter

With some wonderful exceptions, I regular hear words like- Redeemer, Lord, Savior and sin, sprinkled throughout the service in everything from the call to worship to the benediction. I often wonder what the people in the pews are thinking when they hear me preach and then stand up and recite something that is completely contrary to the sermon they just told me was wonderful.

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A Conversation with Rev. Fred Plumer of the Center for Progressive Christianity

Today, we speak with Rev. Fred Plumer, Executive Director of the Center for Progressive Christianity in Gig Harbor, Washington. Rev. Plumer will be leading a day-long workshop here in Tulsa on Saturday the 25th at Fellowship Congregational Church

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What Do We Mean When We Say, “I am Christian?”

Over the last fifteen years I listened to a growing number of troubled clergy who are in conflicted and or dying churches. (I believe there is a connection.) Sometimes the battles are over “LBGT” issues and other times it may be about politics. But far more often, the conflict is rooted in theology, Christology and ideology. Frankly, with rare exceptions, clergy cannot freely teach what they learned in seminary or more importantly, what they have come to believe about their own understanding of the Christian religion, the Bible or their faith. The resultant message is often mixed or muddled and almost always without passion.

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Excerpts from Are We Living the Progressive Faith or Are We Just Dreaming?

I have hope that something very special is happening in our world and I would like the Christian tradition to be part of that positive, evolutionary change. But I believe there are things that progressive leaders, progressive teachers and progressive Churches, have to do immediately, if that we are going to have a chance to make it work.

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Fred’s Full Presentation from the Common Dreams 2 Conference – Are We Living the Progressive Faith, or Are We Just Dreaming?

I have hope that something very special is happening in our world and I would like the Christian tradition to be part of that positive, evolutionary change. But I believe there are things that progressive leaders, progressive teachers and progressive Churches, have to do immediately, if that we are going to have a chance to make it work.

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What Have We Done?

I do not think that very many people believe that we have a very healthy attitude towards human sexuality in the Western World today, especially in the USA.

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Not the Easy Way

The ultimate problem for most of the early theologians was their need to identify Jesus as a divine messiah sent by an intervening God to save humanity from humanity’s God-given nature. Rather than accepting Jesus as a profound teacher of another way to experience reality (The Kingdom of God), all the emphasis has been on an outside force, (being), going through some horrible heroic act on our poor behalf, and then only if we repent.

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Finding Awe

Re-discover AWE in your life.  Listen Here

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God Talk

Over the last few weeks I have had the opportunity and the privilege to meet with two different groups made up of people who are all in their own way searching for new ways to tell the Christian story.

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Myth and the Genesis Stories

It is impossible for us today to fathom the world view that the ancients who created these stories must have had. We really cannot grasp what it was like to look out in the stars, to travel, to watch the days get shorter with no obvious reason, to deal with the seasons, watch babies be born without an understanding of basic biology, science, without airplanes, space ships, Hubble telescopes, physicists, calendars, let alone computers and GPS. These were people, after all, who believed that the earth was flat and covered with a dome that had holes in it. For them, the stars were God’s or the god’s light shining through those holes.

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Trying to String Things Together

According to the best scientists in the world, our universe is composed entirely of vibrating strings of energy. Everything from the smallest measurable particle to the largest star in our universe is made from the same kind of ingredient. Just like the strings of a cello or viola can make a multitude of sounds, quantum strings of energy create a multitude of forms. In ways we cannot understand, at least at this point, all of these strings are inter-related and interdependent. In other words, the great spiritual teachers, including Jesus, were right. We are all one interconnected whole. The universe is like one grand symphony orchestra playing beautiful music. And we are part of that music.

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A Quiet Lazy Summer

All religions started with mystical discovery and wonderment. Discovery and wonderment are the foundation of every spiritual experience. It is humans to search for that spiritual experience somewhere.

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Hope – An Action of Creative Transformation

Today, it is very clear to me that “hope” is not wishful thinking for the weak. It is a positive action that will affect the course of our lives. It is for the strong who are willing to embrace change. For hope is a doorway to positive creative transformation.

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Spirituality of Mother Earth

I have come to realize that it would be impossible for me to have a holistic spirituality that was not somehow connected and grounded in an awesome appreciation of our Mother Earth. We are of the earth and the earth is of us. The idea that the Universe was created by a theistic God outside of us, for our needs has perpetuated the duality myth that no longer fits our understanding of reality or the cosmos. It allows us to produce Christian spiritualities that function in a certain isolated context without regard for the larger society or the very earth that sustains us.

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Always A Seeker

Certainly the most influential and helpful reading I had done over the years was in the various Buddhist traditions. It is true that on the surface there are significant differences from the teachings of Jesus and the Buddha. And it seems important to note that the historical Jesus had only three or four years to formulate and articulate his teachings, while the Buddha’s teachings evolved over several decades. And certainly these two great teachers were coming out of very different cultures and social settings.

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Perplexed–Discussion Between Fred Plumer and TCPC Reader Rev. R

This article is a summary of an email exchange between a TCPC reader and Fred Plumer. We are not certain why last month’s eBulletin, “Recovering Christians,”; generated so much email but we were surprised. It was a nice surprise because overall it was very supportive. We always get few responses after an eBulletin goes out.
After all, it does go out to close to 12,000 subscribers every month. But for some reason last month’s eBulletin stimulated nearly ten times the email, phone calls and even a couple of “snail mail” letters than we normally receive.

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Engaging the Recovering Christians

So how do we progressive Christians share our perspective so recovering Christians can hear us and actually get excited about the progressive path of Jesus and what our churches have to offer?

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What Else Could I Have Done? A Maundy Thursday or Good Friday Reading

This is the Passion story. The story of Jesus’ betrayal and his death.

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The Times They Are A-Changin

Two weeks ago I experienced a change I could not have imagined any time in the past. I attended the Earl Lectures at Pacific School of Religion. I have been doing this for over twenty-five years. The lectures were established in 1901 to bring prominent religious leaders to Berkeley's university community. These lectures have featured such internationally known figures as Theodore Roosevelt, Elie Wiesel, Howard Thurman, Maya Angelou, Paul Tillich, Walter Brueggemann, and Alice Walker.

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Are We Progressing?

About ten years ago, I attended a two day conference that garnered a lot of anticipation and excitement about the topics, which were: a new way of communicating our religious beliefs and the discussion of postmodern theology. Near the end of the conference, I was ready for it to be over. It had been a good conference. The keynote speakers were well respected and leaders in their fields.

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Don’t Go There

if we dig deep enough, most of us seem to have a “don’t go there” spot in our beliefs and traditions – that place where we lose a little of our otherwise rational thinking. And I suspect that it is often our inability to get past those “don’t go there(s)” that holds back our personal growth and change.

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An Epic Change

Have you noticed what an amazing time in history we are all living? I think we are a very lucky group of people to be witnessing and even participating in such incredible changes in our country and in the world. I am not referring here just to the fact that we elected our first non-Caucasian individual to the office of Presidency, although I do think that is a reflection of the shift. (Personally I am more excited about this man's character than I am about his mixed ethnic roots.) No, I am referring here to what I believe is a seismic change of epic proportions. I hope that I will be around long enough to be able to a have conversation with my grandchildren about this shift.

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Speaking of My Religion

It is no secret that progressive, liberal, even moderate Christians are living in precarious times. Most of us are part of denominations that are losing members faster then we can count… Old-line, liberal churches are in a lot of hurt. We have been categorized, stratified, stigmatized and marginalized. We are in a tough market and no matter how many times we reorganize our denominational offices or how much money we spend on advertising, we will continue to have a tough time unless we are willing to make some significant changes in the way we do church and the way we talk about our faith

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Missed Opportunities

I must admit that it seems strange, in a time when religion, beliefs, faith and spirituality are such a common subject on a regular basis in our mainline media, so many people feel uncomfortable going to church to have open discussions about these subjects. It certainly appears from our data that there is such an obvious hunger that most churches do not seem to be feeding.

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