Meaning

On the spiritual path, we all seek meaning: ways to connect personal fulfillment to something larger. Meaning is here as a conversation partner in our shared quest for spiritual understanding. In each episode, host Chris Bohnhoff engages members from Plymouth Congregational Church of Minneapolis in a conversation about the deeper significance of the things they do. A series of questions ends each episode, helping you to reflect on each guest’s wisdom and how it may illuminate your own spiritual path. Plymouth is a large, vibrant, progressive Christian church on the edge of downtown Minneapolis, home to a wide spectrum of spiritual seekers. Our commitments to social justice work and the arts as an avenue to the sacred provide a rich, varied backdrop to our efforts to bridge what can sometimes feel like a huge gap between work and connection to the divine. Plymouth is an opening and affirming church offering radical hospitality to all. Whoever you are, wherever you are on your life’s journey, we welcome you and offer you God’s love.

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Episodes

6 days ago

To introduce our guest, Tara Bauer, I need to do a little quick nerding out. If you were to click around Plymouth’s website to the Clergy and Staff page, you’d see that Tara is listed as a Covenant Partner. If you’re not a seminarian you’d be excused for not knowing what that means, but it’s rooted in how the United Church of Christ thinks about sending people out into the world to do ministry. Unlike some denominations, the UCC assigns ordination status through a local church body. So even for chaplains like Tara, who has served as an Air Force chaplain since her pastoral residency at Plymouth from 2011-2013, a covenanted relationship with a local church is required to stay in good standing with the denomination. But the huge importance of covenant in our church and in our denomination is a topic for another day. For now, let’s dive into my conversation with Tara and the meaning she finds in military chaplaincy.

Thursday Sep 15, 2022

It's happened to all of us. An amazing idea comes to us and practically as soon as it does, our inner critic throws up a cloud of reasons why it can't happen: not enough resources, not enough know how, nobody to help make it real. And this doesn't just happen to individuals; institutions have their own inner critics who are skeptical of growth and new initiatives. In this episode, host Chris Bohnhoff talks to Seth Patterson about making meaning out of those perceived barriers and the liminal space of bouncing on the diving board before your body decides to jump.

Thursday Sep 01, 2022

Like many people, Plymouth member Kareem Murphy kept his distance from organized religion in his twenties. Then, in the midst of a successful career as an equity partner at a Washington DC lobbying firm, he found the right moment to re-engage with his spirituality. Now, as the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for Hennepin County, Kareem integrates his spiritual self into all aspects of his life. We talked about his religious history, and about the opportunities that have presented themselves to him as a direct result of his strongly held spiritual ethics.

Monday Aug 01, 2022

Not long ago, Plymouth member Karen Barstad had a conversation with her sister about where they find the divine. Her sister’s answer was in nature; Karen’s answer was in community. From musical groups, to friendship circles, to groups whose purpose is to walk with people through life transitions, Karen has been a member of many sub-communities at Plymouth, and we talked about what meaning she has pulled from those often messy and imperfect, but always affirming and empowering experiences.

Friday Jul 15, 2022

The summer of 2022 has not been an easy one for people in progressive spaces. We’ve seen the overturning of Roe vs Wade, multiple mass shootings, more instances of police killing of unarmed Black men, the congressional hearings on January 6, the war in Ukraine. . . all significant steps backward in terms of the struggles for peace and social justice. I sat down with Plymouth’s Lead Minister, DeWayne Davis, to talk through the question: given the immense challenges presented by this moment, how does one avoid sinking into cynicism, despair, and pessimism? Where is the enduring wisdom that can help us meet this moment? If you’re DeWayne, you find wisdom in our not-so-distant past. . . and on Netflix.

Friday Jul 01, 2022

How do you think about the study of history? Many of us were conditioned to think of history as a set of dates and names to memorize: a static set of facts that suggest the story of the past. But according to longtime Plymouth member Annette Atkins one studies history to bring today into contact with other times and populations. In the process, new questions emerge that lead to new understandings of both the past and the present.   A retired professor of history at St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict, as well as the author of “Creating Minnesota: A History from the Inside Out,” Annette reflected with me about how she has made meaning out of the study of Minnesota’s past, as well as her search for meaning and self-identity in a post-teaching time of life.

Wednesday Jun 15, 2022

What is your response to uncomfortable situations? How do you respond when confronted with a person or conversation that you disagree with, or that reveals a side of society or yourself that is hard to see? If you take your cues from social media or our popular culture, you might respond with anger, or defensiveness, or by distracting yourself from the source of the discomfort. But what does a spiritual path suggest as a more productive response?   I talked about this with Seth Patterson, Plymouth’s Minister for Spiritual Formation and Theater. He reflected on the constructive role that discomfort plays for him as a leader, as a performer, and as a community member.

Wednesday Jun 01, 2022

EJ Kelley has followed a unique path: in the midst of a successful career, he followed a persistent internal voice that kept telling him that he could do more to help the marginalized in our community. Instead of sticking it out until traditional retirement age and then devoting himself to philanthropy, he left his paying job and, as a way of recharging, started volunteering at the Groveland Food Shelf. As it happened, at the same time he began practicing meditation and centering prayer.

Sunday May 15, 2022

At Plymouth, like everywhere, groups form for all kinds of reasons: to work on projects, to learn about specific topics, to work on boards and committees, and often just for fun. But is there something that makes small groups formed in spiritual community unique? I talked about it with Plymouth’s Minister for Congregational Care and Worship, Beth Hoffman Faeth, and it may not surprise you to hear that her answer is that yes, big things do happen in church-context small groups. In fact, for Beth, small groups are at once an anchor to community, a gateway to authenticity, and an invitation to transformation.

Sunday May 01, 2022

Larry Johnson, the Plymouth Drop In Center’s coordinator, is a guy that loves a good story. Before coming to Plymouth, he served in Vietnam, then held a long career in classroom education that turned into educational video production. An activist at heart, Larry now creates a safe, caring environment for adults in Plymouth’s neighborhood with a mental health diagnosis

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