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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.

Fall 2014

Mark your calendar: Jesus Seminar on the Road will come to Plymouth Nov. 7-8, addressing the question: Does God have a Future? Why It Matters Now. Sessions may include: The God of our Ancestors, The First Signs of Trouble, The God of our Modern Ways, The Post-Modern Critique of God.

Also, watch for information about Heart to Heart Couples' Enrichment Weekend, Nov. 7–9, sponsored by the United Church of Christ ($420/couple).

Beyond the Basics: Deepening Compassionate Communication

Yvette Erasmus. 9 a.m.–4 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 18. $75; limited to 25. Please register.

Join us for a full day intensive workshoprkshop designed for people who have attended a basic or introductory course in Nonviolent Communication or who are familiar with the practice and want to deepen their own learning and growth using the NVC model.

Workshop facilitator, Yvette Erasmus, M.Ed., 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. She also is a graduate student working toward her doctorate in clinical psychology.

For additional information, contact Yvette Erasmus or the program coordinator, Anne Seltz, at

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Below are recent offerings to provide a flavor of Spiritual Exploration.
Updated July 16, 2014

Spring 2014

Special Event: Hedrick Smith on Wealth Disparity

7:00–8:30 p.m., Thursday, April 10, in the Sanctuary. Free-will offering.

More is written every day about the extreme disparity of income and wealth in this country resulting in a tiny sliver of excessively wealthy individuals at the top of our social economy with much of the remainder of the population struggling to make ends meet. The consequences of this phenomenon for the well-being of future generations are enormous. Both President Obama and Pope Francis have made recent speeches about the harmful effects of income disparity and many candidates have marked it as a key topic for coming election campaigns. These developments in our economy and society are not just cyclical, as some would have us believe, but the result of conscious efforts and actions of people and institutions over the past half-century. These events are chronicled in an extremely well-researched and -written book Who Stole the American Dream? by Pulitzer Prize–winning author and journalist Hedrick Smith. Join us to hear Smith make the case for a more balanced economic society.

Hedrick Smith, Pulitzer Prize-winning former New York Times reporter and editor and Emmy award-winning producer/correspondent, has established himself over the past 50 years of his career as one of America’s most distinguished journalists. Over 25 years, PBS viewers saw Hedrick Smith as a principal panelist on Washington Week in Review and as a special correspondent for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Smith has received seven honorary doctorate degrees. He is well known as an effective speaker to college commencements, civic groups, business conventions, and lecture series nationwide, admired for cogent analysis and compelling story-telling.

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Drawing as a Spiritual Practice

In May, Randall Rogers offers two classes that meet four times and, for the final meeting, visit the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

"Seeing Spring" 10:00 a.m.–noon, Saturdays, May 3, 10, 17, 24, 31. Cost: $100.

"In the Beginning..." 7–9 p.m., Thursdays, May 1, 8, 15, 22, 29. Cost: $100.
Limited to 10.

"Seeing Spring"
This set of four sessions will focus on our ability to "bear witness" to the arrival of Spring. As such, it will include ideas and metaphors for re-birth, renewal and honing an inner awareness of the process as well how Spring's external manifestations speak to our inner self. When possible and the weather permits, we will be outside. All levels welcome.

"In the Beginning. . ."
This set of four sessions will be geared toward the beginner in all of us. We will delve into the very fundamentals of drawing including, shading, shape, line and perspective. If you are among the many who claim, "Me? I can't draw!" come let's put that notion to rest; for drawing is merely the act of "seeing" with intention. In this way, drawing is a delightful bridge to a spiritual practice.

Randall Rogers is a local artist and long-time resident of Minneapolis. A graduate of Augsburg College who founded and ran his own design group for 20 years, Rogers abandoned advertising for the sake of a quieter and more heartfelt life. He is currently working on a body of large (3' x 5') graphite drawings that seek to elicit the deepest emotion from the most humble, intimate views of hands and facial features. Demanding as much as 300 hours to create, each drawing is itself a meditation and invitation to step into the sacred space “within.”

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What More? How to fulfill our life's promise

Sam King leads a women's retreat, Feb. 14–16, 2014 (begins 6:30–7:00 p.m., Friday; ends 2 p.m., Sunday), ARC Retreat Center; $250 including housing and meals; limited to 21. Full with a waiting list.

Do you have a nagging sense that there is unfinished business in your life but are unsure as to how to manifest, before you die, what wants to come into being through you? On this retreat, we will address the obstacles each of us face in coming to full flower. Through poetry, storytelling, art making, movement to music and interaction with the natural environment, we will come to greater clarity about how to spend what time is left to us, how to make the contributions we have to offer in personal and public arenas. Together, we will move our energies toward fulfilling what we perceive to be our particular purposes on earth.

Poet and teacher Susan Deborah "Sam" King recently published Dropping into the Flower, her fifth book of poetry. "On the top of my list of favorite things I’ve been part of at Plymouth are the women’s retreats I have led at ARC retreat center," says Sam King. "Those who participate are invariably 'game' and open to the activities I suggest, producing beautiful art, moving pieces of writing and powerful stories that have sustained me and others. This kind of openness does not exist in every organization! The sense of bonding that has been part of every retreat has been particularly precious to me. I’m looking forward to one last experience with anticipation and some real sadness."

Sponsored by the Spiritual Exploration Committee of the Board of Deacons, this retreat can be a respite, an inspiration, a deepening of community. The ARC, located about 50 miles north of the Twin Cities, offers comfortable accommodations in beautiful and serene surroundings. Go to their web site,, for additional information.

For additional information, contact retreat coordinators Jan Mattox ( or Anne Seltz (

Book Study: A Life of Being, Having and Doing Enough

Jeff Sartain. Offered twice each date: 10:30–11:30 a.m. and 7–8 p.m., Thursdays, Feb. 6, 13 and 20. Room 205; free. Book available at your local bookstore.

Jeff Sartain will lead a three-week book study on Wayne Muller’s recent book A Life of Being, Having and Doing Enough. Muller takes on a complicated subject that is more relevant than ever in a world that seems to have reached a crisis point of exhaustion, disappointment, fear and anger. Many of us find it hard to take a Sabbath, to slow down or to stop for replenishment and renewal. Another part of the problem is our inability to allow our work to feel sufficient for the day. The author challenges us to listen to our inner thermostat for signs that we have done enough and can take a break or stop altogether. This inner wisdom or heart’s knowing is a much more reliable guide than the deluge of external forces, schedules and e-mails that assault us on a daily basis. Through reading the book and conversations, the participants will find practical ways to embrace being, having and doing enough.

Jeff Sartain is Executive Minister at Plymouth.

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Book Study: Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

Paula Northwood. Offered twice each date: 10:30-11:30 a.m., and 7-8 p.m., Thursdays, March 13, 20, 27 and April 3, 10 and 17. Room 205: Free. Book available at your local bookstore or from

During the season of Lent, Paula Northwood will lead a book study on Reza Aslan’s recent book, Zealot. The narrative of Jesus of Nazareth is arguably the most influential narrative in human history. In Reza Aslan’s book, he balances the Jesus of the Gospels against historical sources and describes Jesus as a man of contradiction; a man of peace who exhorted his followers to take up arms; an exorcist and faith healer who urges his followers to keep his identity a secret; the seditious “King of the Jews” whose promise of liberation went unfulfilled in his life time. During this Lenten season, join us as we grapple with the riddle of how Jesus understood himself and the mystery that is at the heart of claims about his divinity.

Paula Northwood is Minister for Education at Plymouth Church.

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Man Salon: Introduction to the Gospels

Jim Gertmenian. 7:00-8:30 p.m., Thursdays, February 27, March 6, 13 and 20. Offsite at a studio in the Cedar-Isles neighborhood of South Minneapolis. Free. Limit 20.

This will be a four-week opportunity to look at how the four canonical gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) came to be written and to examine their basic content. We will work together on several of Jesus' parables, track the trajectory of his ministry and give some attention to the question of his historicity. On the final evening, we will engage in a group re-telling of the Gospel of Matthew in order to experience the oral tradition from which the gospels came.

Jim Gertmenian is the Senior Minister at Plymouth Church.

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Yes, No and Maybe: Boundary Setting with Compassionate Communication

Yvette Erasmus. 9 a.m.–4 p.m., Saturday, March 8. Jackman. Cost: $75.

Do you say yes, when you really want to say "no"?
Do you feel guilty when you ask for what you need?
Do you speak to yourself and others using a lot of shoulds?
Wishing you had some tools for setting boundaries with demanding people?

This full-day introductory workshop is designed for people interested in learning the foundations of the nonviolent communication model (NVC) developed by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, and are especially interested in working on setting personal boundaries with others.

Benefit from . . .

Workshop facilitator, Yvette Erasmus, M.Ed., 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. She also is a graduate student working toward her doctorate in clinical psychology.

For additional information, contact Yvette Erasmus or the program coordinator, Anne Seltz, at

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Chapel Labyrinth Walk

M. J. McGregor. Wednesday March 19, 5:30–8:30 p.m., in the Chapel.

Come walk the medieval labyrinth pattern of Chartres Cathedral by candlelight in the Chapel. This spiritual meditation tool offers a time to slow your pace and refresh yourself.



Download PDF for winter-spring 2014 Spiritual Exploration programs.

Please register for those programs that require it.

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 glance...

Fall 2014—Watch for additional offerings!

Beyond the Basics: Deepening Compassionate Communication



Bible Study: It's Our Sacred Text


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.; on hiatus until September 2014. Room 207
Mary Kay Sauter

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 January, we will talk about the book of Joshua.

We will continue working through the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) in winter and spring 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.
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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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