2018 Annual Report of the Senior MinisterMartin Luther King Jr. Sunday – “Making it Home” Special Program”
One of the most impactful programs at our church in years took place in January of 2018 with a young adult led and organized afternoon program on the lower level of the church for Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday entitled, “Making it Home.” In the fall of 2017, I gathered young adult members of the church to see if there was interest in putting on a program that focused on police brutality and what to do when stopped by the police. The people I invited to the first session were young adults under 40 years of age. After the initial meeting, I stepped back and let them take over. To my surprise, the first thing the young adults told me was they thought high school youth should also be included, because at their age they are vulnerable to police stops. This process began with an organizational meeting in my office in November of 2017 and was finalized at 1 pm on Martin Luther King Sunday in 2018 with over 200 persons in attendance on the lower level of the church! The program was entitled, “Making it Home” and featured several lawyers and judges who are members of our church, including: Atty. Christina Harris Watts, Atty. Rita White, Judge Deborah Geraldine Bledsoe Ford, Atty. Carl Jordan, Atty. Jeffery Collins
Martin Luther King guest speakers during the Sunday Morning Worship Service featured, my son, Atty. Noah P. Hood at the 8:30 AM worship service and James Morris at the 11 AM worship service. I found both speakers to be dynamic, thoughtful and eloquent in their delivery. They provided a perfect lead-in to the afternoon program, “Making it Home.” One of my long-range hopes is that the organizational effort that was required to put on such a spectacular and meaningful program will carry over into organizing our young adult and youth members.Sunday School
Our church has a spectacular Sunday School! One of the brightest stars in our church orbit is our wonderful Sunday School. Under the direction of Victoria Barnes and Joyce Penn, the Sunday School provides dedicated stewardship of our children at the same time of the Sunday morning worship services. Maxine Rushing and Rev. Hill created several skits that featured the children during Sunday worship services. Kyle Rushing leads the youth choir which rehearses and performs during Sunday School and also during the Sunday worship services.
Sunday School Conference – “Saving our Youth One Sunday School Lesson at a time”
In September of 2018, I was pleased to see the Sunday School follow up on a suggestion and challenge I gave the leadership and teachers to organize a Conference that would invite Sunday School Staff from other churches to share best practices. The Sunday School Conference attracted teachers from five other churches: Bethel AME; Little Rock Baptist Church; Hartford Memorial Baptist Church; Mayflower United Church of Christ, and Friendship Baptist Church. I attended the Sunday School Conference which lasted five hours on a Saturday morning. The Conference was led by our Sunday School Staff, which included: Kamilla Henderson, Maxine Rushing; Steve Hood , James Hall, Ruby Price, and Rev. Hill.100th Anniversary Committee
Vickie and Terrence Winn are doing a great job as co-chairs of the 100th
Church Anniversary, which will take place in 2019. Already, the committee is meeting and has great plans for the anniversary.Local MissionsFeeding and Housing the Homeless
A special word of thanks to Ellen Hill Zeringe for her leadership of the Housing the Homeless Program, where for one week in February, all the church groups volunteered to feed the homeless. Ellen masterfully coordinated to entire program so that each night featured a diversity of activities designed to make the homeless feel welcome at our church.Saturday Youth Mentoring Program
Tony Poole and Rev. Hill coordinated a Saturday mentoring program for the church which provided tremendous encouragement for the youth and adult participants.Computer Mission
The computer mission of the church donated new laptop computers to several youth live near the church.The Annual Christmas Program for youth
The annual Christmas Program for youth provided toys and gifts for over 200 children who live near the church. I would like to thank Evelyn Hudson Wright for her leadership and stewardship of this impactful program. I would also like to thank the hundreds of members of our church who took the time to share their resources with the children of our community. This program is greatly appreciated by the families that live close to the church, so much so, that many parents began contacting the church during the summer to make sure that their children would be included on the list of recipients. The concept of this program is simple – the children and their parents are asked to submit a request for what they would like to receive for Christmas. Church members pull names with the request from a Christmas Tree in the Narthex of the Church, and then return with the gifts to church for distribution.Guatemalan Mission
In January of 2018, I participated in a church mission observation trip to, led by trustee, Craig Orr to Panajachel, Guatemala. This small mission trip included the following members of our church: Connie Orr, Marian Stephens, Henrietta Carson, Lana and Bob Koenig, Deirdre Weir, Dr. Brenda McGadney, Denise Hood and myself. We visited a Spanish/ English School, and two schools that are populated by Mayan children. We brought clothing and other supplies for the youth. It was a powerful trip and I commend Craig Orr for his interest, guidance and leadership.Summer Boys and Girls Camp –
I would like to thank Atty. Lois Collins and her husband, Atty. Jeffery Collins for their leadership of the Boys and Girls Camp in Oscoda, Michigan. 50 youth participated in the camp. Lois Collins has an impressive sense of organization that keeps the youth busy all day long until they go to sleep. I came up to the camp for one night and led devotions the following morning. Rev. Hill also led devotions one morning. The camp represents one of the finest examples of mission, and for which, I am extremely proud and grateful to Lois and Jeff Collins for their leadership.Spiritual GrowthConfirmation of Faith Class –
In 2018, I continued an annual tradition by hosting and leading a Confirmation of Faith Class for ten weeks on Sundays from 1:30 – 3 PM at my home. Rev. Dr. Georgia Hill assisted me as well as Evelyn Hudson Wright. My wife, Denise, prepared meals each week for the children. The following students participated in this year’s class: Sage Johnson; Chloe Wright; Oronde Patterson; Grace Shofar; and Rapha Shofar.Bible Discussions
In 2018, The church was blessed spiritually with several weekly and one monthly Bible Studies: The Unified Adult Bible Study (Sunday Morning at 10:15; Tuesdays at 6 PM; Wednesday s at 11 AM); Saturday 9AM class; Also there is a once a month Women’s Bible Study on Thursday evenings. I personally sat with the Unified Adult Bible Study leaders several times during 2018 to discuss potential books in the Bible for consideration. Often, these meetings were held at my home and sometimes at local restaurants. I am convinced that the combination of each of these Bible Studies provides the church with enhanced spiritual development and fellowship among the membership.Male Only Bible Discussion Series
In the spring of 2018, I led a Bible Discussion Series at the church entitled, “Strong Men of the Bible.” This series was well attended by several men and boys and focused on the following characters from the Bible: Samson, Gideon, David, and JonahLove and Intimacy Series
During the month of July, I led a series of Bible Discussions in my back yard over “Burgers and Hot Dogs” on the subject of “Love and Intimacy in the Bible.” This series attracted males and females as we explored what the Bible has to say about love and intimacy.River Baptism
In August, I officiated over the baptism of several persons in the Detroit River. Over 20 years ago, a member of the church named Ted Coleman requested that I baptize him by immersion. Because our church does not have a baptismal pool, I suggested that we perform the sacrament in the Detroit River. The River Baptism takes place at 7 AM at the Beach at Belle Isle. The following persons were baptized this year in the Detroit River: Courtnie Thomas; Aaron Roberson; Chuquita Simpson; Danaya Bryson; Doug Shaw and Charles Caine.African American Passover Celebration
Maundy Thursday was celebrated with the African American Passover Celebration on the lower level of the church. In 2017, the African American Passover Celebration was broadcast on the WORD Television Network and can be viewed on YouTube. I would like to thank the Board for Christian Education for its support of this annual spiritual worship service. I would like to also thank the 120 members of the church who served as readers during the African American Passover Celebration, and those who participated with their attendance. I am proud that I wrote the African American Passover Celebration and had it published in 2016.Worship Leaders
2018 was a year where we identified and trained enough lay persons to lead worship for each of the Sunday morning worship services. I personally invited several high school students to augment the ranks of the adult worship leaders. The following persons are the 2018 worship leaders: Nicholas McGuire, Lakedra Evans, Gabriella Sullen (left for post graduate work),Redick Grant, Raven Murray, George Cohen, Cassandra Rimpson, Deborah Gatson, Victoria Winfield, Rachel Winfield (left for college), Lisa Reeves, Jason McGuire, Jeanine Brunson, Ayeobami Bell Torrence, Steve Johnson, Evelyn Hudson Wright, Josiah Johnson, Joshua Johnson. Steve Johnson has agreed to serve as a worship leader coordinator.Spirit Filled, Spirit Led Worship
Our three worship services, Sunday Morning at 8:30 and 11 AM, and the Wednesday Noon Worship Service, continue to evolve in a wonderful manner. Under the direction of our minister of music, Lamar Willis, the Renaissance and Gospel Choirs provide vocal leadership each month. Chenthia Wooten leads the “Blended Voices” and Diane Reeder directs, “Water.” Lamar Willis also directs the Male Chorus. The combination of these independent vocal ensembles provides the church with a rich diversity of musical spirituality which gives the membership something to look forward to each Sunday.The Usher Board as the “Doorkeepers in the House of the Lord.”
I would like to thank the Usher Board for its dedicated assistance for every worship service. With very little fanfare, the Usher Board often opens the church on Sunday mornings and is on duty until the final offering at the conclusion of the second service. I tip my hat to Usher Board Chairman, Terrence German and each of the dedicated members of the Usher Board: Gail Burton, Betty Douglas, Dolores Chisolm, Courtney Nowlin, Deborah Nowlin, Winnie and Willie Goston, Renee Dover, Stephanie Cox Banks, Deborah Smith, Cynthia Banks, and others.Law Day Sunday Featured Father- Son, Atty. Cornelius and Atty. Byron Pitts
On the first Sunday in May, 2018, the church was blessed with a father-son duo, Atty. Cornelius and Atty. Byron Pitts. Also, I asked several lawyers who are members of the church to introduce the guest speakers as well as talk about the significance of Law Day. At the 8:30 AM worship service, Atty. Alex Parrish spoke about Law Day. He was introduced by Atty. Darwyn Fair. At the 11 Am worship service, Atty. Mack Faison spoke about Law Day. He was introduced by Judge Freddie Burton. Atty. Byron Pitts was introduced by Atty. Oddie Uddyback. At 11 am, Atty. Cornelius Pitts was introduced by Atty. Carl Jordon. I continue to be impressed with the depth of professional leadership in our congregation. Law Day was a great example of the excellence of leadership we have within our membership.Fellowship Among the Membership –
Golf Outing and All-Church Picnic were wonderful activites that promoted fellowship, fun, and church spirit. I would like to commend the Golf-Outing Committee, chaired by Julius Reeves, Russell Estill, Rev. Dr. Georgia Hill, and Atty. Tony Poole for doing a great job in increasing the number of golfers and financial support for the Sunday School.Scholarship Sunday
2018 was exceptional in that 35 undergraduate church members received $2000 each for a total of $85, 000. I would like to thank and commend the Scholarship Committee for its dedicated support of our students by serving breakfast each 1st
Sunday and overseeing the scholarship application process and the distribution of the award checks to the undergraduate students. Blake West, who was the top grade point average student for the last four years, served as the Scholarship Sunday guest speaker. I asked Blake to speak because he is close in age to the current cohort of undergraduate students at the church. I thought he was exceptional in his remarks and the students seemed to be hanging on every word from his speech. The scholarship awards represent the combined funds from 50 endowed scholarships and a monthly scholarship offering that is received from the membership. The value of the principal of the scholarship endowment is now in excess of $700,000. I would like to thank each of the families of church members who have established endowments for scholarships for our youth. I also would like to thank Thomas Seabron, of Morgan Stanley, who is a church member, for his expert stewardship of our combined endowment funds.Newly Organized Graduate Student Scholarship Committee
Under the leadership of Dr. Michael Carruthers, a Graduate Scholarship Award Committee was organized in 2018 which included: Dr. Shaun Black; Dr. Ella Davis and Dr. Kristen Barnes Holliday. Eight graduate scholars received awards in the amount of $1000 each.Lower Level Floor
In 2017, the congregation raised $52,000 to replace the lower level floor. Again, I would like to personally commend and thank Atty. Jerome Watson for his Sunday morning stewardship messages.
In 2018, the existing floor was removed, and the bare concrete lower floor was exposed. A new tile floor was ordered. When the existing floor was removed, we did not know what we would find. What we did find was that there was no mold underneath the floor. We also learned that the moisture under the existing floor was coming from an outside sprinkler system leak in several locations. After conversations with the Property and Mainteance Committee, the Trustee Board and Construction Engineer, Erlich
Crain, we decided that the exposed concrete floor has a natural beauty and decided to ask the church congregation for approval to keep the exposed concrete floor.
Since moneys were raised for a new tile floor and not for the exposed concrete floor, I thought it only right to bring the issue to the entire congregation for its support. This issue will be raised for a vote at the November 2018 Annual Meeting of the Church.Unrestricted New Endowments for the Church
2018 was historic in that several new unrestricted endowments were established to allow the church greater flexibility in the future. Earlier in this report I mentioned that the corpus of the Endowed Scholarship Fund is slightly more than $700,000. I am very proud of what we have achieved as a church with our scholarship fund. The endowment for scholarships is funded and now is the time to begin to move to insure the financial solvency for the church for the next generation and beyond. In 2018, the following unrestricted endowments were established in the names of these individuals: Anderson and Elaine Williams; Dorothy Raiford; Ruby and Jesse Burton; Victoria Seabrooks; the mother of Dr, Andrea Coleman Brantley, and Clarence White. In 2017, an unrestricted endowment was established in the name of Julia Cloteel Page. Endowments for the church begin with an initial contribution of at least $5000. As we close out this year and move toward the 100th
anniversary year, 2019, there will be a greater focus on building unrestricted endowments for the church and the elimination of remaining debt on church mortgages.100 for the 100th Anniversary Debt Elimination Campaign
I would like to thank Karla and Bill Middlebrooks for their leadership of a campaign to eliminate the debt from the two outstanding mortgages the church holds. These mortgages represent the 1.1million renovation loan for the church that has a $5000 per month loan repayment, and $2800 per month loan repayment for a $300,000 loan to assist the Cyprian Center. The goal of the 100 for the 100th
Anniversary Debt Elimination Campaign is to make the church totally free from mortgage debt by the end of 2019, which is the 100th
anniversary of the church. This campaign is in the “Quiet phase,” but will be made public to the entire congregation in 2019. Already, in June of 2018, 30 members of the church made a commitment to support this effort.
Church Officers and Rotating Leadership
Part of the dynamic that makes Plymouth United Church of Christ the dynamic church that it is, is the system of rotating officers. Our constitution requires that officers are voted into office by the congregation at large. Every three years, officers rotate out of office, which allows for newer and younger leadership to have a chance to serve the church. The officers in 2018 are a great set of officers and are doing a great job in leading the church. Each of the church boards has places set aside for one person under thirty and one person under 20, with full voting rights.A Word of Thanks to our church staff and volunteers –
I would like to thank the volunteers and dedicated staff that help our church operations to move in an efficient manner: Henrietta Carson, executive administrative assistant and bookkeeper; Regina Yopp, church secretary; Latasha Washington, assistant church secretary and event planner. Dononvan Grant, church custodian. There are a series of volunteers who help the church every day. These individuals answer the phone and open the doors for members and visitors: Walter Willis, Glenda Steel, Stephanie Donaldson, Shirley Northcross; Jerome Smith; Kim Cox; Teresa Barmore, Janet Whitiker and Adine Moore, and Claire Neal. Walter Willis, one of the volunteers, opens the church doors 6-7 days each week. Claire Neal volunteers each Tuesday to input the contribution records from the preceding Sunday offering. The volunteers perform a special role at the church by relieving the full -time staff of having to answer the telephone and buzz visitors into the church. Karla Middlebrooks, who is a retired vice president of finance for the Chrysler Corporation, volunteered in 2018 to assist Henrietta Carson in revamping and streamlining the financial reports for review by the Trustee Board and the Congregation. The format for the financial reports included in this Annual Report was designed by Karla Middlebrooks.
I also would like to thank Rev. Dr. Georgia Hill, associate minister for her assistance with the Sunday School, Nursing Home Ministry and Visitation Ministry. Rev. Hill also leads the Black College Tour, two Bible Studies, and is involved on several other levels, including preaching in my absence. My thanks is also extended to Rev. Yvonne Bostic for leading a ministry focused on Mental and Emotional Health and to the Rev. Dr. Jimmy Womack for assisting with preaching in my absence. Latasha Washington continues to amaze me with her energy and support for virtually every project in the church. In addition to her multitude of responsibilities, with the help of Stacy Whitfield Robinson, she is coordinating a Caribbean Cruise that will take place in 2019 as one of the official 100th
Church Anniversary activities. Already, over 30 persons have registered for the Caribbean Cruise. Two years ago, during a pre-funeral visit after the death of her husband, I learned from Stacy that she had organized several cruises for her husband and family. I asked her if she could organize a cruise for the church that would be affordable and would take place during the anniversary year of 2019. She agreed and asked Latasha to assist her. As I imagined, they are “Off and Running” and it looks like it will be a great success with over 30 persons who have registered to participate in the cruise – several of which include intergenerational families.Israel Trip – “Following in the Footsteps of Jesus”
In October of 2018, I provided spiritual leadership for a trip to Israel called, “Following in the Footsteps of Jesus.” 35 persons took part in this tour of Israel. I would like to thank Deierdre Weir and Henrietta Carson for the excellent role they performed in assisting with the leadership of this tour. Deierdre Weir served as tour coordinator with the Travel Agency. She also served as shepherd to our 35 travelers and attended to special requests and concerns regarding travel arrangements. Henrietta Carson assisted with the financial accounting for the trip. My role was in two capacities, one as providing spiritual leadership which included creating a Bible Index for every site we visited, as well as reading the scriptures at each site, offering commentary at most sites and prayer. My other role, along with my wife, Denise, was to basically serve as a “Cheerleader” to keep the spirit and good feelings at a high level. This was a spectacular tour which included visits to two Palestinian controlled cities, Bethlehem and Jericho. Our tour leader in Israel was a young Arab, who is also Christian. She assured us that we would be safe and she lived up to her word. The added value of this trip is that the church will receive $6000 in residual income from the tour agency.
For me, one of the highlights of the Israel trip was my officiating over the baptism of 24 the participants in the Jordan River.
From my perspective, Plymouth United Church of Christ is a great church with a great program, impactful ministries and doing a wonderful job in promoting the good news of Jesus Christ. For the past several years, the church has experienced a continual, gradual evolution which in my opinion is encouraging and positive. Our worship attendance is becoming and has become much more diverse from a social and economic perspective. This evolution is pleasing to me, because from my youth, my predecessor in the pulpit, my father, the Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III often would lament, “When will the community feel welcome to worship at Plymouth?” I am pleased to say that that day is becoming a reality and it feels good.Personal Ministry Focus – In 2018, I continued to serve as a member of the Board of Trustees for the McCormick Theological Seminary, a member of the Board of Directors for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and a member of the Board of Directors for the Plymouth Educational Center.
In 2018, I continued to write a daily Spiritual Blog which is located at https://nicholashoodiiiministries.wordpress.com/
Additionally, I also began to write and record a daily podcast audio reading of the Bible which began by reading the entire Book of Psalms on a daily basis, and is now currently in the Book of Genesis. After reading chapters from the Bible, I offer questions for reflection and a prayer. These podcasts can be accessed by going to the following sites: Apple Podcasts
. Or, at anchor.fm/nicholas-hood3
. Also, on Google Podcasts at Nicholas Hood3, Now on Spotify – https://open.spotify.com/show/1fQTqugJtGj6FCgHaGuG
In addition to the blog and podcasts, I often try to encourage the congregation by sending uplifting Bible verses via text messages, often daily, to over 550 members of the church.
For the past several years, the church website generates over $10,000 in donations. I believe that these contributions represent donations in large measure from members and friends of the church who view the church services online – often from around the country and other parts of the world. As we proceed to the future, I can envision the online presence of the church to expand.
I thank God and the members of the church for the opportunity to continue to serve as pastor and senior minister of the Plymouth United Church of Christ. Blessings,
Pastor Nick ked0 Grid Tab