In Spring 2020, we quickly pivoted to online offerings. The Book Group has met almost every Wednesday since May 2020 and Theological Think Tank began on Thursdays shortly after. From fall 2020 to summer 2021, former Vicar Margarette held a Sermon Reflection Series on Monday mornings and a Tuesday Text Study.
The Wednesday Night Program returned in the fall of 2021 with a discussion and Bible study on “Thriving Beyond Covid” and a study on Marian Apparitions (Appearances of Mary) led by Pastor Holly. We started 2022 with a lively exploration on the Enneagram. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more information about our Wednesday Night Program.
In the fall, the Racial Justice Task Force organized a group to participate in the Just Faith Series, session 1 — Faith & Racial Equity: Exploring Power and Privilege.
In June a group began session 2 — Faith & Racial Healing: Embracing Truth, Justice, and Restoration. See the The Welcome Table: Racial Justice Task Force page for more information.
Every fall we organize a Women’s Retreat over a weekend at a nearby retreat center. In 2019 we met San Damiano in Danville to discuss The Divine Feminine. We hope to be back in 2022!
The Book Group
We began offline in December 2019 and January 2020 with a discussion of a book written just for us (actually for the ELCA, our parent church body): Pastor Lenny Duncan’s Dear Church: A Love-Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the U.S.
We moved online at the end of March 2020, just a few weeks after the lock down began. Barbara Brown Taylor’s Learning to Walk in the Dark was an important guide for a difficult time. Trying to understand some of the challenges Christianity is facing today, we turned to Diana Butler Bass’s Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church is Transforming the Faith. Then it was back to Pastor Duncan to share Dear Church with members who had not had the chance to read it.
Shaken by the murder of George Floyd, in June we began a focus on books that we felt might deepen our understanding of the racism and oppression suffered by African Americans:
- Jennifer Harvey, Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation
- Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
- Richard Rothstein, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America
- John Lewis (with Michael D’Orso), Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement
- Brit Bennett, The Vanishing Half
- Nella Larsen, Passing
- Carl L. Hart, High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society
In the fall of 2021, we began to broaden our reading about racial discrimination in America, turning to books that we hope will give us insight into some of the experiences of Native Americans and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders. Our recent books have included:
- Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous: A Novel
- David Treuer, The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present
See the St. Paul calendar for more information about meeting times. The link to join the program is here. You can find our current reading schedule in our newsletter. For more information, please contact our moderator, Stephanie Oana.
Please join us!
THEOLOGICAL THINK TANK THURSDAYS
Gary Pence, retired professor of the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, leads a free-wheeling discussion on Thursday evenings called Theological Think Tank. No curriculum, no plan, no structure. Each week the group picks the topic for the next week. Sometimes Gary leads the group through engaging questions; sometimes the discussion moves wherever the group takes it. All thoughts and ideas, however unconventional, are welcome – Gary will give the ELCA’s official position but that is always open to questioning by participants. No conclusions, just great topics and mind-opening conversations.
Previous topics: Bible; Life beyond death; God; Sacraments; Unitarian-Universalism; Prayer; Job; Early Christian writings that didn’t make it into the canon: Pharisees and early Christian community’s attitude toward Jews; Virgin birth; Mary-Mother of Jesus; Devil and the demonic; Luther’s Small Catechism; Sharing our faith; Types of biblical interpretation; Dostoevsky’s “The Grand Inquisitor;” Heaven; Eastern Orthodoxy and the great schism with the Western church; Predestination/election; Baptism; Lent; Does God tempt/test us; Atonement theories—why did Jesus die on the cross; Theology of hymns in our hymnal; Holy Week; Death and dying; End-of-life decision; Physician assisted suicide; What happens after we die?; Forgiveness and the unforgivable; Reconciliation, repentance, reparation
WEDNESDAY NIGHT PROGRAM
The Wednesday Night Program was off to a great start in 2019-20.
After shutting down in March 2020, the Wednesday Night Program started up again on Zoom in the fall of 2021. Recent programs have included:
- A program on Death & Dying, presented by Airalee Studley, Life & Relationship Coach/Death Doula
- Immigration and the Bible, led by Vicar Paul
- Exploring the Enneagram, taught by Jacinta Sutpin
- Marian Apparitions (Appearances of Mary) and related art, led by Pastor Holly
- Thriving beyond Covid, a series of reflections and Bible studies, led by Pastor Holly
We hope to start meeting again in person soon!
Click Here to Read the Highlights of Our Last In-Person Programs
Week of Peace Celebration:
Special Screening of One Voice: The Story of the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir
Documentary Film: Inocente
Panel: Working with the Homeless
Housing: Speaker from the Oakland Mayor’s Office
Homelessness: A Biblical Perspective
Panel: Action and Advocacy
Christmas-Themed Bible Study;
Swedish Dinner with Santa Lucia and Program about Christmas Celebrations Around the World;
Children’s Christmas Program and Sing-a-long
Images of God:
Discussion of the book Dear Church by Pastor Lenny Duncan
Documentary Film: This is Hunger
Panel: Speakers from community agencies
Hunger: A Biblical Perspective
Walking a Labyrinth (history, meaning, and an actual labyrinth in our Narthex)
Workshop on sacred music with Village Harmony