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The Jazz & Justice Church

The spirit of jazz and a passion for justice are the heartbeat of our community.

About: Our Values

Our Mission

Recognizing that the earth and all therein are a gracious gift from God, we come together as one in the Spirit of Christ:

To affirm our faith through creative services of worship and celebration;

To create an accepting community where all can find healing, comfort, nurture and love;

To provide learning opportunities that enable people to gain a clearer sense of God’s presence and guidance into ways we can live more in harmony and love with each other and all of creation;

To work together creatively and compassionately for peace and justice for all God’s creation;

And to provide a friendly environment with various opportunities for fun and fellowship in which meaningful, joyful relationships can flourish.

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About: Our Mission

Our History

Plymouth Church was formed in 1904 with the merger of two Oakland congregations – Oak Chapel Congregational Church (established in 1894) and Plymouth Avenue Church (established in 1874). Our first pastor was Rev. Joseph A. Benton, a professor at what was then known as Pacific Theological Seminary (now Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley).

From its earliest period, Plymouth was a pioneer in social services and youth activities. The church sponsored a well-baby clinic in the days before the Public Health Department was established, hiring a staff that included doctors, nurses, and a clinical psychiatrist. It also operated a community recreation center with basketball courts, bowling lanes and billiard tables.

In addition to providing direct services, Plymouth’s pastors and congregation have long been known for speaking out on matters of justice. We were one of the first – and sadly, one of the few – Oakland churches to speak against the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, for example.

Plymouth’s commitment to justice continues to this day. Rev. Lois Mueller (2000-2013), who was the first woman called as pastor of Plymouth Church, organized vigils at the sites of Oakland shootings in the early 1990s, led a clergy demonstration against the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and helped organize an interfaith demonstration in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011. Rev. Marjorie Matthews, our current pastor, is the second woman and first person of color called to serve Plymouth Church. A longtime educator and activist, she's led our church in a partnership with West Oakland’s Hoover Elementary School and in the broader movement to improve public education and eliminate mass incarceration.

About: About Us

About Our Denomination

We are proud members of the United Church of Christ (UCC). Our denomination was formed in 1957, but our roots go back hundreds of years to the Pilgrims and Puritans of the Congregationalist tradition.

The Church of Firsts: The UCC was the first historically white denomination to ordain an African-American, the first to ordain a woman, the first to ordain an openly gay man, and the first Christian church to affirm the right of same-gender couples to marry.

The Church of Extravagant Welcome: The UCC welcomes and includes people of different ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations and gender identities, class backgrounds, and religious traditions. We often say: “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.”

The Church Where God is Still Speaking: The UCC is a progressive denomination. We joyfully celebrate the traditions of our faith, AND we joyfully embrace the new things God is unfolding each day. We believe that “God is still speaking.” As the late comedian Gracie Allen put it: “Never place a period where God has placed a comma.”

For more information about the United Church of Christ, go to

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