Adult Education: Past Studies at Grace
Curious about what kinds of topics Grace takes on in its Sunday morning OASIS, weeknight virtual, and small group classes? Here is a list of recent studies, along with Power Points and handouts used in each study (where applicable). To see what we're doing now--and what other offerings are currently available--click here.
Reading Luke with Grace (Jan 3-Mar 28, 2021)
Grace embarked on a church-wide study of the Gospel of Luke, reading 2 chapters a week. This included weekly discussions for adults on Sunday mornings and opportunities for children and youth as well. Check out the Read Luke with Grace page for more information and materials!
As part of a church-wide study, Grace read and discussed The Acts of the Apostles, picking up where the Gospel of Luke ends. In Luke we see Jesus teaching counter-cultural ideas about welcoming the outsider, prioritizing the poor, and sitting at table with all of God's children. In our study of Acts, Grace adults explored how the early church put these teachings into practice, forming working communities that attempted to embody God's great love. How did the apostles handle differences in theology? How did they treat each other? How did the earliest Christian communities structure themselves during this turbulent era, what role did the Holy Spirit play, and what lessons can we draw for our own turbulent era? Click here to see the materials,.
Galatians and Philippians (Sept 18-Nov 20, 2022)
This 6-week study used a video series based on Peter Enn's book How the Bible Actually Works. Enns explains how an ancient, ambiguous, and diverse book leads us to wisdom instead of necessarily giving us specific answers. We have a sacred task, he points out, to re-experience and reimagine the God of the Bible in our time and place, just as the biblical writers did in theirs.
FAITH AND SPIRITUAL GROWTH
An Altar in the World (Sept - Nov 22, 2020)
This online adult Sunday morning class focused on how we can maintain our spiritual center, using the book An Altar in the World, by renowned preacher and author Barbara Brown Taylor, as our guide. The book explores ways to experience the divine in our everyday, human activities, such as “wearing skin,” “getting lost,” “saying no,” and “living with purpose.”
Testimony: Vocabulary of Faith (Apr 11- May 16, 2021)
How do we articulate what we believe fluently and in ways that clearly demonstrate our faith to the world? How do we live and move and have our being in ways that embody our deepest Christian commitments? The 6-week study explored these questions from a Reformed theological perspective, using a curriculum developed by Presbyterian Outlook.
April 11: Session 1: Almighty — Who Is God? Handouts: Core Values Discussion Questions Who Is God? Scripture Passages Confessions
April 18: Session 2: Imago Dei — Who Are We? Handout: Session 2 Imago Dei.ppt
April 25: Session 3: Covenant — God in Relationship. Handout: Session 3 Covenant.ppt
May 2: Session 4: Grace — God Who Saves. Handout: Session 4 Testimony_Grace.ppt
May 9: Session 5: Love — God of Action. Handout: Session 5 God of Action - Love.ppt
May 16: Session 6: Christian Community — God of Belonging. Handout: Session 6 Testimony Community.ppt
LIVING OUT OUR FAITH IN EVERYDAY LIFE
Brave Church/Hard Topics
In the Fall of 2022, Grace started a mid-week virtual discussion using the Brave Church: Tackling Tough Topics Together by Elizabeth Hagan (2021) as a framework. We explored topics that Christians often find difficult to discuss with each other, either because they are too personal or too controversial. The intent is not to change what you think but rather how you engage in conversation on these topics with people who have similar or different opinions. In 2022, our discussions covered creating brave spaces, sexual identity/orientation, mental illness/mental health, domestic violence, and Christian nationalism. You can find the topics, background materials, and notes from the Fall 2022 session here.
We continued taking on hard topics in the spring of 2023, having difficult discussions in faith, social justice and Christianity, climate change, the prison system, antiracism, the rise of "nones" and the future of the church, and abortion. You can find the topics, background materials, and notes from the Spring 2023 session here.
Prior to the pandemic shutdown, Grace would gather weekly in local restaurants, pubs, and other public establishments to to enjoy food, beverage, fellowship, and discussion on the breaking news of the day, the messiness of everyday life, or questions of faith. When the pandemic hit, we shifted to a monthly Virtual Pub(lic) Theology as an opportunity to learn, grow, encourage, and find comfort with each other. We don’t have all the answers, but we offer a safe place to explore the questions. Settle in with your favorite food and/or beverage, and join your friends from Grace - and friends you bring - for a lively evening of conversation and fellowship!
PEACE AND JUSTICE
Grace is committed to biblical understandings of justice and peace and periodically sponsors focused studies to expand our understanding of key issues facing the world today. Even if you missed the group discussions, you may want to read these books on your own.
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
Just Mercy is the true story of author and world-renowned civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson as he works to free a wrongly condemned death row prisoner. In addition to exploring the central storyline of a history-making battle for social justice, Stevenson details the histories of others from marginalized groups who are falsely convicted or harshly sentenced and engage with moral and philosophical reflections on the American criminal justice and prison systems. This book also touches on gun violence, political corruption, a long history of suffering, and the potential for mercy to redeem us.
The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church's Complicity in Racism by Jemar Tisby
(from the Amazon description) The Color of Compromise takes listeners on a historical journey: from America's early colonial days through slavery and the Civil War, covering the tragedy of Jim Crow laws and the victories of the Civil Rights era, to today's Black Lives Matter movement. Author Jemar Tisby reveals the obvious - and the far more subtle - ways the American church has compromised what the Bible teaches about human dignity and equality.
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Olua
Over the past decade, the past few years, the past month--many of us have become aware that as Christians, we are called to face the reality of our nation's legacy around race. But (especially for white people), how do we talk about things that make us uncomfortable? How do we help heal the hurts? What do we need to better understand in order to become a part of the solution? This study used the book So You Want to Talk about Race to explore these topics. The author, Ijeoma Oluo, guides readers through definitions and history and black experience in an attempt to make possible honest conversations about race and racism and how they infect almost every aspect of American life.
City of a Thousand Gates by Rebecca Sacks
City of a Thousand Gates is a deeply empathic first novel by American writer Rebecca Sacks. Without taking sides, the book illuminates the competing perspectives and desires of people throughout Israel and Palestine. And it reveals the humanity of people caught in the atmosphere of hostility that pervades even the most intimate aspects of personal life. Central to the novel is the question of the abuse of power, and how oppression harms both the oppressed and the oppressors. Through the pages of this book, we explored the many facets of the antagonism between Israelis and Palestinians and pondered the larger question of the impact of the abuse of power.
Whom Shall I Fear?: Urgent Questions for Christians in an Age of Violence by Rosalind C. Hughes
(adapted from the Amazon description) In the book Whom Shall I Fear: Urgent Questions for Christians in an Age of Violence, Rosalind C. Hughes explores the questions being raised by churches as they grapple with the fear of violence. The book provides thought-provoking reflections on topics such as locked doors, living faithfully in an unfaithful world, the question of armed security in a church setting, and the duty of Christians to extend hospitality to their neighbor. It includes stories from survivors of gun violence and wisdom on how churches can work to transform an anxious and fear-driven world. Whom Shall I Fear? helps the church thoughtfully wrestle with what it means to be a church of grace, welcome, and love when confronted with acts of cruelty, division, and hate.
Interrupting Silence: Speaking Out against Injustice (Apr 24 - June 5, 2022)
Discussing politics in church has long been viewed as ill-advised, if not unbiblical. And yet the political questions our nation faces--especially related to social, economic, and international issues--do have moral implications. What is the role of the church in addressing these implications in our public and political life? How can the church address legitimate concerns in the public square, without losing its spiritual connection to God? In this study we explored the Church’s role in speaking out and advocating for compassion for all in public policy and decision-making. For more information and a link to class materials, click here.
Incarnation: Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas (Nov 29-Dec 20, 2020)
During Advent , the OASIS class read Incarnation: Rediscovering the Significance of Christmas by Adam Hamilton. A rotating group of facilitators lead our discussions around the different names for Jesus and what they mean for us.
Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent (Nov 28-Dec 19, 2021)
In 2021, our OASIS Adult Discipleship class studied Enuma Okoro’s 2012 book, Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent. The book focused on the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth, parents of John the Baptist, offering a daily meditation to contemplate as we travel through the Advent season.
Grace’s Sunday morning OASIS discussion took a fresh look at the birth stories of Jesus. The star, the wise men, the manger, the shepherds -- we practically know the stories by heart. They are beautiful and emotionally resonant. But the stories are also stories with a faith purpose. Matthew and Luke are the only two gospel writers that include birth stories, and their versions are very different. Why? In this study we explored how each birth story serves as a preview of the specific gospel it is in, capturing in a nutshell the "good news" that is emphasized by that author.