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Spiritual Exploration

The Spiritual Exploration Committee of the Board of Deacons provides educational and spiritual opportunities for Plymouth members and friends in the areas of Bible study, spiritual growth, contemporary theology and interfaith dialogue.

Winter–Spring 2015

Last updated March 2, 2015.

Lenten Series: Reflections on Reconciliation, Race and Redemption

Mondays, Feb. 23–March 23, 6:30–8:00 p.m., Jackman Room. Free. No registration needed—come to as many as you like.

Faculty of United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities will lead a five-week series on Biblical passages that address issues of racial injustice, exclusion or oppression. Each week a different professor will lead an exploration of a text of their choosing. The faculty for the series represents a broad spectrum of voices and perspectives. Come for one session or all five; no advance preparation is required.

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Explore Your Beliefs and Experience of God

Thursdays, April 9–April 30, 7:00–8:30 p.m., Room 205. Free. Please register.
Shirley Rutherford and Paula Northwood

Most of us can describe our early teachings and beliefs about God, but over time much of that may not fit anymore. We may be able to describe what we no longer believe, but still struggle to articulate the updated version. Join this group as we share our journeys and grapple with how to articulate our beliefs. We will explore our understanding and experiences of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the afterlife and much more. Here is your opportunity to work on deepening your faith by articulating your beliefs.

Shirley Rutherford is a psychotherapist with a private practice in the Twin Cities. She is also co-chair of the Spiritual Exploration Committee and a deacon at Plymouth Church.

Paula Northwood is Minister for Education at Plymouth Church.

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Let the Beauty We Love Be What We Do . . .
Living Divided No More

Two sessions: Friday, April 10, 7:00–8:30 p.m., Chapel. Fee: $25.
Saturday, April 11, 9:00 a.m.–4 p.m., Fireside. Limited to 35. Fee: $75, includes a book by Sally Z. Hare. You may register for one or both: Please register here.

Sally Z. Hare

Sally incorporates into her low-key authentic message the invitation to wholeness and the importance of care of self and respect for others as we stand in the gap between our inner world and how we show up in the outer world. Learning to use open, honest questions along with developing the mindset and competence to live by Parker Palmer’s Habits of The Heart are important. They are:

Dr. Sally Z. Hare, Singleton Distinguished Professor Emerita at Coastal Carolina University, is president of still learning, inc. She lives in Surfside Beach, S.C.

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Book Study: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Monday, April 13, 10 a.m.–noon or 7–9 p.m., or Monday, April 27, 7–9 p.m. Free. Register here.

The study will be guided by Deb Rogers, congregational organizer with Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative. Deb has personal and professional experience in anti-racism efforts, including work in congregations. We are privileged to welcome her leadership and perspective to guide us in our discussion. It will be most helpful if attendees have read the book. Registration is helpful but not required.

This study is hosted by Plymouth’s new Racial Justice Working Group. All members are welcome; Plymouth’s Outreach Board, Board of Deacons, Westminster/Plymouth/Beacon Housing Task Force are especially encouraged to attend.

Book Study: A Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided on Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt

Thursdays, Jan. 29–Feb. 19, 10:30 a.m.–noon, repeated 7:00–8:30 p.m. Room 205. Free, please register.
Paula Northwood

Join this conversation about the book A Righteous Mind. It will challenge the way you think about liberals and conservatives, atheism and religion, good and evil. This book sheds light on why you hold your moral beliefs and why other people disagree with you. If you want some clues on how to engage with the “other side,” whomever that might be, this is the book for you!

Paula Northwood is the Minister for Education at Plymouth Church.


Soulful Living: Creating Peace in Our Lives

Saturday, Feb. 7, 9:00 a.m.–noon. Fireside Room. Fee $35. Please register.
Yvette Erasmus

Ever feel aggressive, angry or just plain violent? Want to understand why violence sometimes feels gratifying? Longing for ways to transform those energies into something more life-serving?

Join us to explore how the core principles of nonviolence help us to transform and work with violence, aggression, anger and judgment. We will explore how soulful practices of shadow work, deep listening, body focusing and intentional language offer us paths to inner peace that include and transcend human violent impulses.

Workshop facilitator Yvette Erasmus, Psy.D., has experience teaching Compassionate Communication at the Yvette ErasmusAslan Institute and leading preschool children, teachers, parents and prison inmates to a more spiritually centered communication model.

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Basic Training: Embodying Empathy and Self-Compassion

Saturday Feb. 21, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Fireside Room. Fee $75. Please register.
Yvette Erasmus, PsyD

Would you like a greater connection to your core values?  A deeper understanding of how to transform and process difficult feelings without repressing, controlling or numbing out from them?

Join us to explore how internalized systems of domination permeate our world views, keeping us stuck in depression, shame and moralistic judgments, and learn practical effective tools for creating more partnership, collaboration, inner peace and harmony in your lives. Participants will learn effective tools to diffuse heated conflicts in emotionally charged situations and to create deeper, fuller, more respectful, empowering connections with colleagues, intimate partners, family and friends.

This full-day introductory workshop is designed for people who are interested in learning the basics of the nonviolent communication model (NVC) developed by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg.

Workshop facilitator Yvette Erasmus, Psy.D., has experience teaching Compassionate Communication at the Yvette ErasmusAslan Institute and leading preschool children, teachers, parents and prison inmates to a more spiritually centered communication model.

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The Christmas Within

Dec. 21, 2 to 4 p.m., Jim Gertmenian and Sam King, Jackman Audio.

Explore how all the characters in Christmas story really have correlations in our own experience and how we can, by interacting with them, prepare for the birth of the new in our own lives. 


Download PDF for winter-spring 2015 Spiritual Exploration programs.

Please register for those programs that require it via the embedded links.

Keep in touch: To receive regular email notices about these opportunities, send an email with "Spiritual Exploration" or "Adult Learning" in the subject line.

At a on the title for details or to register.

Book Study: A Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided on Politics and Religion

Soulful Living: Finding Peace in Our Lives

Reflections on Reconciliation, Race and Redemption: Our Lenten series

Explore Your Beliefs and Experience of God

Let the Beauty We Love Be What We Do . . . Living Divided No More

Book Study: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness



Bible Study: It's Our Sacred Text

Compassionate Communication weekly sessions


PlymouthSpirit blog: Explore spirituality from
your laptop or home computer


Meditation 9:30 a.m., Sundays, Fireside Room. Diane Boruff and Jan Mattox lead.

In silence we come to know and live from the Divine Mystery within us. Join this ancient spiritual practice which includes three parts: opening meditation, walking meditation, closing meditation. No experience is necessary and everyone is welcome!

Meditation is a method and discipline designed to promote contemplative prayer. Each Sunday, there will be helpful instruction and then we will pray in silence. After the prayer, there will be time for discussion. This ancient Christian spiritual practice of meditation allows us to draw closer to God and to know God in daily life. In this age of media overload and busyness, it is transforming to add the joy of silent prayer to daily life. Today mediation is widely recommended by doctors to promote mental health and well-being. With modern machines, neuroscientists can now document the beneficial changes in brain activity and body functions such as blood pressure that occur during meditation. Science is now catching up to the knowledge that the mystics have experienced for ages. While in the prayer one goes inward in silence, the “fruits” or blessings of the prayer are revealed in daily life. Praying in silence with a group deepens the experience and adds a dimension of community. Having come to deep interior silence, one goes out into the world to serve in love. All are welcome to join in silent prayer.

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Bible Study: It's Our Sacred Text

Sundays, 9:15 a.m. Room 207
Mary Kay Sauter or Karl Jones

The Bible is quoted by statesmen, politicians, philosophers, poets and even orbiting astronauts. People from all walks of life have found in its pages just the right words for innumerable situations throughout history. But what does it mean to us? Join us as we explore the Bible this year. In September, we will begin with I Samuel.

We will continue working through the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) in fall 2014. Come every Sunday or whenever you can. Informed by recent scholarship of Process, Liberation and Feminist theologies, you will amazed by what you learn!

Mary Kay Sauter is a semi-retired UCC pastor whose ministry has been nine intentional interim pastorates. Karl Jones is an ordained UCC chaplain.
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Compassionate Communication weekly sessions

Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness. It comes from letting the world tickle your heart, your raw and beautiful heart. You are willing to open up, without resistance or shyness, and face the world. You are willing to share your heart with others.
—Chogyam Trungpa, Shambala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior

I was watching a group of women interacting with a new baby recently, and heard the repeated comment, "What a good baby!" In the culture I was raised in, this usually means that the baby doesn't cry much, doesn't fuss, doesn't interrupt adults getting their needs met, and this got me thinking about how early on our training to not value, honor or be aware of our needs begins.  Our training out of being vulnerable begins very early in our lives. 

Embracing vulnerability involves changing our relationship with fear. It involves developing the capacity to sit with discomfort and disease, to tolerate ambiguity and complexity and to remain kind and gentle with ourselves and others, while simultaneously deeply and relentlessly truthful. The skills developed through the practice of nonviolent/compassionate communication have helped me learn to sit with difficult emotions, to approach myself and others with compassion and understanding, and to connect to the human needs underlying all human actions. —Yvette Erasmus

Companionate Communication Weekly Psycho-Educational Practice Group
Wednesday mornings 10 a.m.–noon, starting Sept. 3. Fireside Room
Yvette Erasmus, PsyD . $10–$20 requested per session. No registration needed.

All levels of experience and interest are welcome at the practice, but a basic understanding of the Nonviolent Communication Framework taught by Marshall Rosenberg will be very helpful to you. 

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Ben Lee

Every Wednesday except holidays,
6:45-8:00 p.m., One Groveland

Beginning Yoga: Have you ever wanted to touch your toes? Do you often feel tension in your neck or shoulders? Ever wonder what yoga is all about? This fun and exciting class will leave you feeling stronger, calmer and more flexible.

Each class begins with gentle movements designed to enhance body and breath awareness, then moves into traditional yoga poses that create strength, energy and flexibility while at the same time supporting the development of a perfect balance between body and mind. Class ends with a guided relaxation to strengthen your immune system and leave you feeling light and refreshed.

This invigorating class is open to all levels and is set in a safe and supportive environment. No experience necessary. Just wear comfortable clothing and enjoy.

Ben LeeAbout the instructor: Ben's been studying and practicing yoga since 1994 and teaching since 2001. He brings his knowledge of anatomy and a thoughtful approach to individual differences to each class. Ben’s class combines postures and sequences from various styles of yoga that emphasize strength, energy, balance and deep relaxation.

Cost: $10 per session (no pre-registration)

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Explore Spirituality from Your
Laptop or Home Computer

Plymouth’s Spiritual Enrichment Committee hosts a web-based discussion forum that invites your participation. Each week, one of our clergy posts the liturgical reading for the next week’s worship and offers questions for discussion. We encourage members to share their own reflections on the website. It’s free, convenient and another means of rich, meaningful spiritual experience we so deeply enjoy at Plymouth. Go to

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