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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.

Who Will Lead Us? Maybe Our Lay People

One characteristic that seems to get overlooked most in the data on what is working and not working in churches is the need to create an environment for open dialogue about theological and Christological conversation. I am not certain why, but I continue to see this vacuum in too many churches that I visit. I suspect the reason may be that clergy do not want to create any unnecessary conflict or nor do they want to risk the loss of any church members. But it seems strange to me that the latest thinking about the historical Jesus or about the sometimes twisted roots of the Christian church can be found on the front page of Time or Newsweek magazines and other national publications but these things are seldom being discussed in our churches. It is a more than ironic that even though scholars are producing more books and articles challenging us to rethink what it means to be a Christian today, one of the last places you will hear these topics being discussed is in our churches.

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I Learned About God There

After a couple of weeks of this thrashing, I finally calmed down enough to begin to ask myself what could I learn from this young man. What was missing in our approach to Christian teaching? What were we really teaching our children? What did this young man want that he did not find at our progressive church? What was the pedagogical model we had created, or more importantly what model did we need to create?

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Changing the World, One Child At A Time

This undertaking has been a journey of faith for me. So many positive things have already happened because of it, that it has occurred to me that the curriculum project may be one of the most important things TCPC has ever taken on. It may be one of the most important things I will have done in my life. What an incredible opportunity it will be to find a way to teach children how to lead more joyful and compassionate lives. What an amazing prospect to teach children about Jesus as the loving enlightened teacher, about the path that he has given us that might help them experience “heaven on earth” And what awesome thing it is to ponder the possibility that we will no longer have to “unteach” our children what we once taught them before.

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Into the Future

We do not need to be the leader or number one. We just need to do what we apparently have been called to do and to do it better-that means finding more effective ways of sharing the progressive Christian message. You are going to see many changes over the next few months, so keep your eyes and ears open. We have spent the last six months developing a viable strategic plan and we are in the process of implementing it. You will see changes in the site and in the expansion of resources that we will be offering to churches, small groups and individuals.

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Breakfast with the Dalai Lama

The Seeds of Compassion organization is a very interesting organization and I believe it has a lot to tell those of us that are still trying to grow Christian churches. The organization came through the collaboration of the Kirlin Foundation and the Venerable Tenzin Dhonden and many other religious, educational and spiritual people from the area. These dreamers wanted to bring concrete public awareness, public will, and an empowering call to action to address our local and global need for the social and emotional well-being of children…As an outcome, they seek to bring social and emotional learning into families, to caregivers, and to schools so that all who touch the lives of children have the tools and empowerment to provide the foundation for kinder and more compassionate children, communities, and society. (Quotes from their own brochure)

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It Must Be True (Easter)

Easter has always held a special place in my life and spiritual journey as it holds promise for rebirth, change, growth, and yes, resurection. It is a challenge for many to let go of the belief of a physically resurcted Jesus, but once we recognize the beauty of a spiritual resurection, we can unravel the incredible miracle of having the potential, each day, to re-birth our spirit, to lift it up out of the darkness of despair, fear, and lonliness and merge it with the luminous light of the universal spirit.

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Christian Laauve (Love)

It is not too difficult to imagine that this existential awareness is related to the Realm of God that Jesus described to his followers with so many positive metaphors. It not only discovering the interconnectedness of all life that is so exciting but it is seeing and hearing from a whole new perspective that can fundamentally change our understanding of reality.

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Time To Break For Lunch

I attended a conference a few years ago that was devoted to exploring the virtues of interfaith dialogue. . .The four keynote speakers were made up of a conservative Jewish scholar, a well respected Muslim scholar, a Buddhist author and a traditionalist Christian. . .Later, I realized how ironic it was, as we ambled off to our respective lunch gatherings, that so much of what we have reconstructed about Jesus was about the table commensality as a way of practicing radical egalitarianism, as John Dominic Crossan referred to it . I tried to imagine the Jesus of my faith, having lunch with the unique kind people who seemed to gather around him. Did he worry about their religious affiliations? Did he care if they had it right? Did he believe his religion was the only way to connect with the Ultimate Reality? When he said, "Do not judge another" did he mean don't judge except for their religion? Or did he look directly into the hearts and souls of others without religious, tribal, ethnic, or gender concerns or thoughts? Was he able to transcend all of those things that tend to separate us into divisive groups that so often turn into violent differences?

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The Magic of Christmas

Recently as my wife and I were having a quiet dinner with some friends and found ourselves going through something that seems to have become an annual ritual. It always starts with someone announcing, “Can you believe it? Christmas is only X days away!” And in chorus the rest of us go, “your kidding! How did that happen?” We have other little ditties that we sing like, “It seems like it was only a few months ago we were celebrating Easter.” Or, “But I just put the Christmas decorations away from last year” Then for the closing song we always sing rather sadly, “It comes faster and faster every year.” As the evening progressed someone wistfully asked, ” I wonder if we can every capture the magic of Christmas again?” I have thought a lot about that over the last few years. I wondered if there ever was “the magic of Christmas” that has been shared in common with others over the years…

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Giving Thanks as a Life Changing Dynamic

Jesus was not born into a privileged life. He was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth and did not live under easy circumstances. But he still lived in gratitude. In fact he made giving thanks for life a foundational dynamic of his teaching. He seemed surprised by other people's inability to live happy, fulfilling lives with little or no gratitude. "Why do you worry so much about what you eat, what you wear?"

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What is Progressive Christianity Anyway?

This article was first published in the January/Febbruary 2007 magazine The Progressive Christian. It is posted here with permission. It covers the topic of the growing momentum of something called progressive Christianity but also points out that it is a movement with many interpretations and definitions. It is still in the rather exciting period of self-discovery.

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Nurturing a Progressive Christian Spirituality

You cannot love and serve with a compassionate heart without eventually seeing those whom you are serving as your brother, your sister, your mother, your father, or eventually as yourself, even when it is “the least of these” who you serve. But if we do our serving because we feel that it something we are supposed to do “because the Bible says we should” or “because that is what Jesus did according to scripture,” or because it is our “duty,” we only separate ourselves more from the others. On the other hand, if we see our compassionate service as an opportunity to experience the “Realm of God” or “Sacred Unity” then our compassionate actions or practices become golden opportunities.

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Practice, Practice, Practice!

Over the last five decades as I have searched for a meaningful spiritual path that might bring purpose, fulfillment and peace to my life, I have often reflected on that experience with mirth and awe. It must have been a funny scene fit for a Woody Allen movie. But the truth is, I know that my piano teacher was right. He touched upon a truth that goes beyond piano lessons. We will never discover what it means to become something meaningful unless we practice and practice-until it goes from our thinking to our being…

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Build and Sustain Faith Communities by Feeding the Hungry

This presentation was given by Fred Plumer at the Common Dreams Conference in Sydney, Australia last month. It clearly lays out 8 steps and goals for churches and spiritual communities that want to build and sustain their communities by feeding the hunger that people feel for spirituality, purpose, a mission, and clear path.

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A Grand Event

It was a grand event and my only wish is that you could have all been there to share it with me. Since, Australia was a bit far…I will do my best to maintain that level of energy and enthusiasm about Progressive Christianity that those 1500 people infused in me and continue to help this organization grow and evolve with the rising tide of these crucial times. Now really is a moment in history where I believe we are at a tipping point, can you feel it? Will you help us tip the balance toward love, compassion and openness? I believe we can.

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Churches Have More than Just Good Music

Ten years ago George Carlin the comedian, wrote in his book, Brain Droppings, "The only thing good that came out of religion was the music."  When I ponder the
violent history of the Christian church, the religious wars that still
continue to plague our world, the divisiveness, the prejudice and the
bigotry that the church has perpetuated and continues to perpetuate in
the world today, I wonder if George Carlin is right. When I ponder the violent history of the Christian church, the religious wars that still continue to plague our world, the divisiveness, the prejudice and the bigotry that the church has perpetuated and continues to perpetuate in the world today, I wonder if George Carlin is right.

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Progressive Faith vs. the Illusion of Control

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.

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