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Remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free.  

- Isaiah 58:6  


We are proud of our past.

Plymouth Church has a long and storied history of fighting slavery and racial discrimination and injustice in America. The 21 men and women who founded the church in Brooklyn Heights in 1847 called as their first pastor Henry Ward Beecher, thus beginning the most prominent ministry in the second half of 19th century America. Beecher's powerful preaching and outspoken opposition to slavery filled the pews to overflowing.

For over 170 years Plymouth’s congregation has been a participant in America’s struggle for racial equality and human rights. Abraham Lincoln worshiped here twice in 1860, brought to New York by members of the congregation to launch his first presidential campaign. Plymouth was a stop on the Underground Railroad, called the Grand Central Depot for the numbers of enslaved Americans who sheltered in our basement on their way to freedom. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King preached here in 1963 delivering a sermon titled “The American Dream,” which presaged the thoughts and concepts embodied in his most famous “I have a Dream” speech later that year.

We act in the present.

The New Abolitionists, Plymouth’s anti-trafficking ministry, works to free those trapped in modern day slavery. The trade in people and forced labor is a multi-billion dollar criminal industry that denies freedom to 20.9 million people around the world. And it happens here, in Brooklyn, right in our own backyard. Those trafficked aren't only those born overseas and brought here illegally. They are also our own children and neighbors. Criminals use force, fraud and coercion to profit from people trapped in the sex trade, or working unpaid in restaurants, nail salons, sweatshops and other businesses throughout New York City.

We build for a better tomorrow.

As a congregation and as individuals we reach out and embrace trafficking survivors through organizations that support them. We work with Restore, Sanctuary for Families, ECPAT-USA and others, and look for new projects to expand our ministry.



  • The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally.

    • 68% of them are trapped in forced labor.

    • 26% of them are children.

    • 55% are women and girls.

  • The International Labor Organization estimates that forced labor and human trafficking is a $150 billion industry worldwide.

  • The U.S. Department of Labor has identified 136 goods from 74 countries made by forced and child labor.

  • In 2015, an estimated 1 out of 5 endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were likely child sex trafficking victims.

    • Of those, 74% were in the care of social services or foster care when they ran.

  • There is no official estimate of the total number of human trafficking victims in the U.S. Polaris estimates that the total number of victims nationally reaches into the hundreds of thousands when estimates of both adults and minors and sex trafficking and labor trafficking are aggregated.

Statistics from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline and Polaris BeFree Textline


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