Vision Statement

Praying for guidance for the journey...   
      Honoring the mystery of God...       
           Responding with spirits renewed...            
                Moving courageously toward wholeness.

Mission Statement

Plymouth Church is an inclusive Christian Community welcoming you as you are, supporting you in your own journey with God, and challenging you to live out the teachings of Jesus individually, collectively, globally.


We are … an Open and Affirming congregation (2001), where we find strength in our diversity, and a way to understand the inclusiveness of God.  

We are … a Peace with Justice congregation (2008), centering our life in prayer, study, and worship. We seek the things that make for peace and justice within the whole human family.

We are … a Global Ministries certified "Global Mission" congregation (2012),“intensely local, intentionally global," as recognized by the United Church of Christ.

We are … an "earthwise" congregation (2015), striving to be good stewards of God's creation. 


It is the purpose and mission of Plymouth Church to proclaim the Christian gospel, to advance the love of God and neighbor, to embody the Way of Life as recorded in the Bible, and to promote Christian faith and practice in accordance with the teachings of Jesus Christ. Plymouth Church welcomes into membership any person who loves Jesus Christ and who promises to follow Christ’s way.

The Statement of Faith of the United Church of Christ is a valuable and honored testimony of the Christian faith for members of Plymouth Church.

Plymouth Church cherishes the call of God to explore and practice faith in Jesus Christ. As a congregation of the United Church of Christ, the following convictions ground the expression of faith:

  1. We are a people called to express God’s extravagant welcome;
  2. we belong to Christ;
  3. we are a covenant people, a united and uniting Church;
  4. we find hope and inspiration in the unity we share through baptism and holy communion;
  5. we thank God for by working for a just and loving world; in our worship, prayer, and service we listen for the Still-speaking God.

An Open & Affirming Church

To say that a local church, campus ministry, etc., in the UCC is “Open and Affirming” means that it has publicly declared that “gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender” (GLBT) people (or those of all “sexual orientations”) are welcome in its full life and ministry. Open and Affirming goes further to intentionally include all races, cultural origins, genders, and differing abilities in the complete life of the church. It bespeaks a spirit of hospitality and a willingness to live out that welcome in meaningful ways. The people of Plymouth Congregational Church of Fort Wayne publicly declared our church to be an Open and Affirming congregation in May 2001.

A Just Peace Congregation

On Sunday, May 4, 2008, the Plymouth congregation formally declared itself a Just Peace congregation of the United Church of Christ by unanimous vote at a congregational meeting held in the sanctuary following worship. The UCC General Synod, in 1985, defined “just peace” as the interrelation of friendship, justice, and common security from violence. Over the years, the Just Peace identity has become an important symbol for many of our congregations, as both a means of shaping congregational identity and as a theological framework for doing justice-based theological reflection. For many Just Peace congregations, this identity has helped to underscore their ministries of direct service, legislative advocacy, and courageous witness. The approach and emphasis has varied from place to place, and it will allow Plymouth Church to commit and witness to the issues that matter to our people and community. 

A Green Church

Plymouth endeavors to be a green Church. As of August 30, 2010, Plymouth has been certified as a Green City Business by Mayor Tom Henry. In support of this, the Executive Council has adopted “Efficient, Environmentally Sound, and Cost Saving Policies and Procedures.” They speak specifically to pollution prevention, solid waste reduction, energy conservation, and water conservation. It is asked that all standing committees, subcommittees and task forces conduct their programs and activities using these as guidelines. Visible green efforts can be seen throughout the church with multiple recycling containers to encourage individuals to put them to use. There are also signs reminding members and guests to turn off lights when the room is not in use. Recycling and conservation tips are published periodically in newsletters and bulletins to help others be aware of steps to take to conserve our resources.

Certified Green Business

In March 2010, Plymouth Church was certified as a "Fort Wayne Green Business," by Mayor Tom Henry.

Shortly after this recognition, the city turned the "greening" program over to the Northest Indiana Sustainable Business Council < >. Plymouth Church was grandfathered in as a one-star organization.

Thanks to the continuing efforts of Plymouth's boards, staff, and members, we now have achieved a two--out of possible three- star level! Plymouth is one of only two churches in Fort Wayne to have reached this distinction.



REV. DR. JOHN P. GARDNER - Senior Pastor

The Rev. Dr. John P. Gardner has served as the Senior Pastor & Teacher at Plymouth Church since the summer of 1998. He has previously served congregations in Ohio, California, and Michigan. He is a graduate of Grove City College (PA.), and attended the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California where he earned both a Master of Divinity and a Master of Religion & the Arts degree (1980). In 1994 he earned his Doctor of Ministry from the Chicago Theological Seminary. John is married to Vida McCray-Gardner and is the proud father of two sons, Gabriel James and George Henry.

REV. RUTH E. PHILLIPS - Associate Pastor

Rev. Ruth  E.Phillips was called to Plymouth Church in February, 2001. She is a graduate of Colgate Rochester (NY) Divinity School with a Master of Divinity degree. She was ordained in the American Baptist Churches. Her B.A. in Social Work was earned at Anderson (IN) College.  Ruth's experience in thirty-five years of ministry has included work as a chaplain in hospice, geriatric/long-term care, psychiatric, and hospital settings primarily in New York State. She taught a pilot project in HIV/AIDS education with pastors and congregations. She is mother of two adult children and is a new grandmother.

ROBERT NANCE - Director of Music

Robert Nance is a multi-talented musician who maintains a lively schedule as conductor, keyboardist, teacher, composer and arts advocate.

A distinguished graduate of DePauw University School of Music (Indiana), Nance earned a Bachelor of Music degree in keyboard performance, and graduated magna cum laude.  He subsequently earned a Master of Music degree in conducting from Peabody Conservatory (Baltimore).

Nance is the President and Artistic Director of the Heartland Sings!, the region’s only professional vocal ensemble which he founded in 1997.  He is also the Director of Music at Plymouth Congregational Church, and performs regularly as a keyboardist and maintains an active private studio for advanced students and area professionals.

He has received many honors and awards to his credit, including guest conductor of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, a recipient of the Indiana Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship, has served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts and has appeared on the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center.  His “Attitude Series” of recordings are favorites with fans and all proceeds from the sales are designated to support the music education programs of Heartland Sings!  He has also recorded most recently “The Spirit of Christmas” featuring the Singers of Heartland, which is receiving rave reviews. 

Maestro Nance has made Fort Wayne his home for a quarter century, where he has distinguished himself as a dedicated performer and teacher, as well as a capable community leader.

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