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Rev. Jim Keck
I thought to myself, How do you come out of COVID with some new energy and focus?’ Keck said. And it felt to me that on-the-ground justice work, serving the community, was going to be an essential way to remind people why spiritual communities matter.
So justNeighbors was launched, beginning at a nearby Laundry Land, where the church paid for anyones laundry and members helped fold it. The church also recruited congregation and community members to volunteer at Clinic With a Heart, a medical clinic that helps Lincoln residents with no health insurance. They hope to find a way to fill gas tanks for their neighbors as well.
We are neighbors, and these are our people whether they attend worship here or not, Huertas said. We are in kinship with one another, and that matters to us. It matters to me.
While organizers were pleased with the initial work they did through justNeighbors, they still hoped to have a bigger impact.
Huertas and Keck knew that churches across the country had been buying up medical debt in their communities, and they wanted to do the same in Lincoln.
The Rev. Juan Carlos Huertas.
So Huertas did some digging, speaking to doctors, accountants and medical debt collection agencies.
One collection agency responded and began providing First-Plymouth with anonymous profiles of community members in central Lincoln who owed medical debt.
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First Plymouth Congregational Church
HISTORY NEBRASKA MANUSCRIPT FINDING AID
RG1138.AM: First Plymouth Congregational Church
Records: 1911-1968, n.d.Lincoln, Lancaster County, Nebraska: Congregational churchSize: One folder and eight aperture cards
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE
This collection consists of various records relating to the First Plymouth Congregational Church of Lincoln, Nebraska. Included in the collection are eight aperture cards containing blueprints, plans, and specifications for the church located at 20th and D Streets in Lincoln . These materials date from ca. 1929-1930. Also included in the collection is a folder containing a 1911 church bulletin, a Women of First Plymouth Year Book dating from 1940-1942, and an invitation to the 1968 celebration of the completion of extensive remodelling of First Plymouth Congregational Church.
See the Library collections for various publications by and about the First Plymouth Congregational Church.
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Lincoln’s First Plymouth Church Strives To Harmonize Religious Gay Communities
While the LGBTQA and faith communities may seem to be at odds, the First Plymouth Congregational Church is helping to merge the two groups.
The church is a gay-friendly church that welcomes members regardless of sexuality. The church hosts the Plymouth-Pride Fellowship, where those in the LGBTQA community can socialize.
The Rev. Nancy Erickson, associate minister of First Plymouth, said the fellowship formed out of the LGBTQA community.
“I met a couple of new members of the church who were gay,” she said. “I’ve been feeling that we needed to have a LGBT-friendly church.”
Erickson said she asked the new members of the church to start it because she wanted it to be a grassroots campaign.
The first potluck was in October 2005. Since then, the Plymouth Pride Fellowship tries to organize a social event each month.
The number of people involved has grown since 2005, Erickson said, but it tends to fluctuate.
“One of the things we’ve noticed is that we have more non-church members who come,” she said.
The church has seen a hunger among people for community, Erickson said.
“We meet that need for people who have felt disenfranchised by the church,” she said. “We do have people who have been treated badly because of the way some people have misinterpreted the scriptures.”
One of those people who felt disenfranchised by the church was Nebraska native Alison Knudsen, who became involved with First Plymouth Church and the Pride Fellowship after moving back from California.
First Plymouth Church Pays Off Medical Debt For Lincoln Community
LINCOLN, Neb. -For many, paying medical bills can be a daunting and overwhelming task, especially when a pandemic means uncertainty in all areas. To help ease the stress, a Lincoln church is using its collection money to pay off these debts for those who live in the neighborhood they serve.
First Plymouth Church in Lincoln is pooling its resources to buy medical debt. In other words, paying off overdue medical bills.
In this case, theyre starting with those in the near south neighborhood.
Folks trying to pay $100 or $50 each month and we thought, you know what, lets buy up that debt and forgive it, take away that burden, said Dr. Jim Keck, First Plymouth Church.
For the next year, collections made at the First Plymouth Church will not be going towards the church, but paying off medical debts.
A lot of these folks under insured, uninsured people these people have had situations in the last year, two years with COVID those have mounted the amount of medical debt, said Juan Huertas, First Plymouth Church.
The church said much of the debt in central Lincoln is held by one agency, it then buys a persons debt at a bit of a discount and frees them of the obligation. For them, it was important to start in the neighborhood.
Weve been here in the near south neighborhood for over 100 years, said Huertas. Were right here and we said we want to help our neighbors to the best of our ability
Copyright 2022 KOLN. All rights reserved.
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